Romans 8 (Series week 6)

The video for week 6 can be watched at the bottom of this page.

Bible readings: Romans 8:1-17, John 3:3-8.

We have 5 weeks and 7 chapters behind us, so I thought we’d do our catch-up with a video for a change.

There are so many things that can be said to wrap up these first 8 chapters of Paul’s letter to the Romans, you’ll have to forgive me for not saying them all.  I shall try to point out those things which are most helpful either to our understanding or our living.

Firstly, we should recognise that Paul returns to legal language.  “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  This is a summary statement for what has gone before, but it is also a legal declaration.  There is no condemnation. You are absolved!  Not guilty!  Possibly not even charged!

Why not?  Well it’s all this legal stuff again.  Do you remember last week how my old tennis rules no longer apply to me as a table tennis player?  This very much relates to what Paul is trying to say.

He introduces a new law – “The law of the Spirit,” and compares it against “the law of sin and death.”  The results are totally different – I’ve drawn this one up on a diagram so it can sit there for a while.

The net value of all Paul’s words, as he works his way around discussing these laws and their effects is quite simple.  If you want to live apart from Jesus, the law of sin applies, and good luck with that.  If you put your faith in Jesus, God accounts that to you as righteousness (chapter 4) – that is, you are right with God because God says so – you are “in Jesus”, and God’s Spirit lives in you.  You are made a citizen of God’s Kingdom, a member of God’s family, and there is a new rule of law – Paul describes it as the law of the Spirit.

Here, what is true for Jesus is true for you, because you are “in Jesus” (chapter 6).  You have died to sin “in Jesus”, and raised to life “in Jesus”.  You are alive spiritually, not only because you are “in Jesus” but because God’s Spirit is in you.

What Jesus spoke about to Nicodemus (our first reading) has come true for you – you have been born of the Spirit; born again.  That which is flesh is flesh (sarx), and has to answer to the laws of the flesh.  But that which is spirit is spirit, and it answers to the law of the Spirit.

Of this law Paul says “the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace,” and “the Spirit gives life because of righteousness, which comes from God because of your faith in Jesus.”

This is all great, and I hope it’s making sense to you.  It won’t make your life trouble-free.  It won’t deliver your circumstances from being affected by sin around you.  It won’t even mean that you no longer sin.  But your heart will be directed towards God, and God has delivered you into his own family, where there is grace, forgiveness and eternal spiritual life, if your faith is in Jesus.

But there is more good news to come.  “And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

This is deeply personal.  “Abba” is not a 70s Swedish pop group, it is a word that means “Daddy” but without the childish undertone.  It names a deeply personal relationship with God.  We understand that Jesus referred to God, his Heavenly Father, as Abba.  Since Paul goes on to talk about us being co-heirs (brothers) with Jesus, this should be no surprise.

Paul is now pointing us beyond the legalities into the deeply personal.  All of this that we’ve been discussing makes us part of the family.  God becomes Father, Abba, Daddy.

Don’t be fooled as some do by thinking this somehow weakens God to some sentimental puppet that we can manipulate by flashing our adoring eyes heavenward.  Not at all!  What it means is that God who created and sustains our universe has allowed us into his own family.

We become more than we could ever have been.  We become more than we ever should have been.  And it is all by the grace of God, for the purposes of God, in the power of God.  It is a sobering, even frightening thing that is offered to us, and not at all to be taken lightly.

There are other days to focus on the loving, life-saving nature of God’s purposes, and indeed our part in that purpose.  But our journey through Romans 1-8 has been a study in how Paul explained God’s plan of salvation – how God designed to rescue us from our lost-ness, rescue us from the power of sin which held us captive, and deliver us into freedom from sin in his own eternal Kingdom.

There is every chance that God’s plan was greater than you thought.  It is highly likely that what God has delivered you into is greater than you imagined.

I assure you that the experience of being fully spiritually alive in Jesus is greater than you have experienced up to now.  There is much more God wants to show you, so much more God wants to affect in you, if you would lift your eyes to a better horizon.

There is so much God wants to do through us to deliver this life to our broken world, and there is a place in that for you, more wonderful and challenging than you would dare imagine.

It begins with this simple question – God offer Jesus to you as the way.  Will you put your faith in him?  If you have, it has already begun.  If you will, there it will begin.

And once begun, will you keep your eyes on him and trust him for the journey.  There is so much yet to come.

Video of week 6 readings and message, runs 26:26.

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