170319 Romans 8:1-10

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 March 2017 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Preacher: Seminarian Jordan Bence
Sermon Text: Romans 8:1-10
Sermon Theme: We Have a New Strength in the Spirit!

Believe it or not when I was a child I didn't always make the best choices. One of the worst choices was made in my younger years after a brief dispute with my mom. After much time was wasted trying to explain to her that I had the world entirely figured out by the young age of eight, I realized it was no use. I decided it would be much better for me to take on the world alone so I was going to run away from home. As I planned my escape I filled my backpack with all the essentials; a handful of Legos, hot wheels cars, basketball cards, and a Kool-Aid burst and granola bar in case I got hungry on the trip. By the time I reached the end of the road I realized I had made a mistake. On my own as a young boy vs. the world I was powerless. I was powerless to feed myself. I was powerless to clothe myself. I was powerless. I denied the strength and help my parents could give. In a similar way when we take on this world without God we are powerless. We deny the help and strength our almighty God gives to us. When we take on this world by ourselves we will long for the desires of our own sinful flesh and flee from the perfect desires of the Spirit. In chapter of 8 of Romans Paul reminds us of the great strength and power of the Spirit that is ours through Jesus. We have a new strength in the Spirit. We see what Christ has done. We have his Spirit at work.

As we look at the text for today verse one greets us like a trumpet blast. But before we can get into chapter eight it is of great profit that we look back to chapter seven. In chapter seven Paul has a sobering reminder for all of us. Paul reminds us that on this side of heaven we will battle against sin day after day. There will always be a struggle present between us and sin. He tells us in chapter seven verse 16, "What I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." This fact is not only true of Paul but each and every one of us. As we look at God's Word we know what God demands of us to: love our neighbor, keep God's commands, care for the needy, put others above yourself. Yet we know we fail to do these day after day. There hasn't been a single day that we have followed all the commands our God has given us in his word. And if we're honest with ourselves we know we fail to keep these demands many times over in a day. Paul reminds us why these things are true in verse 21 of chapter seven; "Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me." How true this is. As God's children, we go through life earnestly wanting to serve God and keep his commands but sin is right there with us. Just when we think we've started living our life as a perfect testament of our faith in God, there sin is to slap us like a two by four in the face. Paul's message in chapter seven is very humbling. Paul isn't giving us opportunity to beat our chests and show how great we are, but this chapter reminds us how much we need our savior. Paul reminds us in chapter seven that if we ever want to beat our chest there sin is to knock us to our knees and remind us that we are its slave on our own.

But where sin knocks us down to our knees and shows us how powerless we are chapter 8 verse one is there to respond. "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ." After hearing of the despair of chapter 7, chapter 8 begins as Paul's shout of triumph in God's grace to us because of Jesus. Any argument that sin tries to present us is squashed with this verse. Although we will most certainly struggle against sin during this lifetime we know there is now no condemnation for us in Christ. Notice that Paul doesn't say that there is now no condemnation for those who try really hard, or for those who have kept a majority of God's laws. No. Paul shouts that there is now no condemnation for those who are in CHRIST. And we have no condemnation right now!

Paul goes on and tells us why this is true. "Because the Spirit's law of life in Christ has set you free from the law of sin and of death." Now the wording Paul uses to tell us why this is true may be confusing to us or cause the red flag to shoot up. How can Paul tell me that a law is going to set us free from another law? That doesn't make any sense. We all know that the law cannot set anyone free at all. When Paul says law of the Spirit here, he is talking more about a principle instead of a list of commands or demands. The principle that sets us free is the principle of Grace. The principle that God's son has done everything for us and sets us free from the law of sin. What exactly is this law of sin and death the law of the Spirit frees us from? The law of sin is the law that states anyone who sins is a slave to sin. The law that states because of your sinfulness, which you inherited from Adam, you are all going to die.

Paul highlights how powerless we were in connection to the law as he goes on. "For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh." The law that God gave to his servant Moses was powerless to save. The law did not set us free because it was powerless to do so. Ever since the fall into sin the law was been unable to save because our sinful flesh weakened it. Ever since the fall we have inherited the sin that was brought forth through Adam and Eve. This has made it impossible to be saved by the law because it is impossible for us to fulfill it perfectly. Even the most pious Christians who try to follow the law perfectly will miss the mark and fail to follow the demands perfectly. If the law itself was able to save then God would not have even had to send Jesus to die for us, we could have been able to save ourselves. We know this is not the case.

God needed to do something and he did. "God did by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh." Paul continues by telling us that God made us free by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh. This is not saying that Jesus, the son of God, came in sinful flesh but its likeness. The perfect son of God did not take on sin until the cross where he bore the sins of the entire world. If Jesus came in sinful flesh, then that would have meant he was not true God and was uncappable of paying for the sins of the world. We know that was not the case. Jesus did come and he did pay for the sins of the world as a sin offering. Jesus was our sin offering that made the payment we were unable to make. His blood paid for what we could not.

The actions of Christ have a close connection to us that Paul highlights. "in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us." Paul is not telling us that the requirement of the law has been completely met by us but in us. The righteous requirements of the law have been fulfilled in us because we are in Christ and he has fulfilled the requirements of the law perfectly. Anything that the law demanded of us was already fulfilled in Christ. Although you and I have fallen short, Christ has not. Any sense of despair that sin may try to enslave us to is destroyed by Christ. We have a new strength in the Spirit. We see what Christ has done.

As Paul goes on in the text he introduces a conflict. The conflict between flesh and between spirit. Paul reminds us that the flesh is still at work in us. It always will be. But as certain as we are that the flesh is at work in us, so also is the Spirit. The powerful Spirit of the almighty God is at work in all of us. We have a new strength in the Spirit. We have his Spirit at work.

Paul lays out the conflict before us between flesh and Spirit. "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God."

Paul tells us that there is a fight in us. A fight between flesh and between spirit. Although our sinful flesh was crucified with Christ it continues come back to life in us. Paul tells us that the flesh desires flesh, while the spirit desires spirit. The desires of the flesh lead us down a road to death. They are in complete hostility to God. They don't care what God thinks, but they are completely contrary to the thoughts of God. The flesh is a complete enemy of God. The flesh has no interest in pleasing God, nor is it capable of doing so. On the other hand, the spirit desires things what please God. The spirit leads us to life and peace.

And Paul reminds us that we have the spirit at work in us. " You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness." But when did this happen? When did the Spirit of God ever begin to live in us? This all began at our baptism. With the presence of water and the word also came the presence of the Spirit as he began to live in you. What a great reassurance that is. The reassurance that tells us that the same powerful Spirit that raised Christ from the dead has been at work in you since your baptism and continues to do so. Paul is reminding us that we have strength in the Spirit. Strength to live a life that fights the desires of the flesh and follows the desires of the spirit. The strength of the spirit is no match for the strength of the flesh. Paul is reminding us that we are of the spirit and he reminds us that the spirit is giving us life right now. And in that life is the strength of the spirit as well.

Looking back at what Paul said might confuse us at first. We might ask ourselves, why does Paul keep returning to the gloom of the flesh if he has assured us with the message of the Spirit? Paul is retelling us something in this chapter that he has already told us in chapter seven. Paul is reminding us that although the unbeliever in us was crucified he continues to come back. Although Christ conquered death once and for all on our behalf, Paul reminds us that it still has an effect on us. Paul is reminding us that as long as we live on this earth we will be battling against the desires of the flesh. But thanks be to God we are not fighting this battle alone. We fight this battle with the Spirit. And just as the Spirit drown our old man on the day of our baptism, the Spirit continues to drown out the old man and fill our lives with his power.

This brings me back to my great escape as a child. As I went on my way down that street I realized something that we all realize in this life. On our own we are hopeless. Just like I was hopeless to face this world without the help of my parents, how much more hopeless we are facing this world without God. When we faced this world on our own we failed. We were not able to fulfill what the law demands nor did we come anywhere close. But because of Christ there is no condemnation for us because Christ did what we could not. He fulfilled the law in our place. We have peace knowing Christ has done everything that was needed. Although we most certainly have peace we know that the flesh is still waging war against us day after day. Even though the flesh was crucified with Christ it continues to come back and attack us. We know that we are powerless to defend ourselves but we are not alone. Ever since our baptism we have the strength of the spirit to defend against the flesh. This spirit is at work in our hearts right now and lives in us . We have a new strength in the spirit. We have seen what Christ has done. We have his spirit at work. Amen.

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.


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