Living Free in Christ pt. 4

Romans 8:1-13
Preached @ Harambee Church by Pastor Mike Gunn on April 29th, 2007

“For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
Romans 8:13

“The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin.”
John Owen

How does Christian transformation take place? This is definitely an important question, and one that we are taking a look at during this study of Romans 6-8. The teaching of Grace is dangerous in that it can be mistakenly understood as meaning that God is not concerned with our behavior. While this is not true, God is more concerned with your motives (Heart) than with your behavior (Actions). Behavior changes can be a mask for the sins of the heart, and changing behavior is not the goal of Christian transformation, loving God with our heart, mind and soul is, and loving our neighbor as a result of that change is certainly the goal of the gospel.

What We Don’t Mean
1. That you can live in perfect victory over sin on this earth
2. That cleaning up your life is the clear path to God
3. That sin is always manifested outwardly
4. That you can overcome sin without God
5. That holiness or righteousness is something you work harder for

What We Hope to Say
1. Sin is far worse than its symptoms
2. Our Motivation and power to transform comes from God alone
3. That we have been freed from the oppression and power of sin in our lives, but the presence of sin remains in reality in our “Flesh”
4. That there is no condemnation for sin in Christ Jesus, and we are freed to love God and others without being motivated by guilt or need.
5. That the resurrection is the single greatest event in human history, and the backbone for the Christian faith

It is important to see in the verses we have already looked at, that we can now see ourselves for who we are; sinners in the hands of a loving God! Look at chapter 7 in the final verses leading up to Romans 8:1. These are incredible verses! Though we are “Wretched,” we are loved, and there is no “Condemnation” (Judgment) against us because of Christ Jesus (See also Luke 11:13; Jeremiah 17:9). No other system of thought teaches this truth. Liberals deny sin, and have no category for evil, while conservatives love to talk about it, but believe it is out there, and do not know what to do, when they sin. But when we begin to understand that we are evil, yet loved, it humbles us into realizing that we have a bond with all of humanity that can’t divide any longer between “Good” people and “Evil” people. We “All sin, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We all are flesh (Sarx). The flesh Paul mentions in chapter 7 has to do with man’s desire to be his own god. Gaining our acceptance from God by way of rituals (Like circumcision, baptism, etc.) or from our own keeping of the law does not find favor with God apart from Christ. Being our own God can come in the form of breaking all of the laws, or by keeping all of the law as a form of self-righteousness. The gospel gives us the freedom to admit that we are sinful, but that we are loved and accepted in Christ.

Today I hope we can begin to see a new way to apply this reality in our lives, so that spiritual transformation can become a reality in our lives.

From the Head…
We Are Free in Christ (Romans 8:1-3)
Applying will power does nothing to transform us since self-centeredness can take both a moral and immoral form.

We are Enabled by Christ (Romans 8:4-13)
The answer is found in these next verses (Esp. vv. 5 + 13). “Putting to death the deeds of the body,” does not mean your physical body, but has to do with the idea that you are trying to gain approval by physical means rather than spiritual (ie. Works based, self-salvation, rather than faith based in Christ, see Romans 4). It is in recognizing this and “Killing” off this idea that brings forth transformation. Trying to do it by our works robs our joy, and brings forth death (Romans 8:13). In the bible mind is not just the rational end of man, but the whole person. The mind encompasses the heart, the mind and the emotions. What are you most preoccupied in? What motivates you? What are you living for? Is it Christ or something else? It is because we are free from the condemning power of sin that we can now put to death the indwelling power of sin. Our master is Christ, and not our desire to make ourselves God.

…to the Heart
So the gospel gives you the ability to change, and the method by which we can identify our real problem (Our desire to be our own gods), but it also goes beyond this to give us the power to change. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we change. It is the Spirit that brings to our mind the beauty of Christ in such a way, that He becomes more beautiful than anything else that we place our affections on. We work in concert with the Spirit by yielding to the things that we discover by the Spirit and His word. In order to put to death the flesh, we need to be in Christ, and have His Spirit in us, and then as we set our hearts and minds on His word, He can begin to do His surgery in our lives.

The gospel gives us a frame work that is more than emotions (Affections), more than the will (Volition) and more than pure reason (Cognition). It confronts us with ourselves, and allows us to see that we are loved in spite of it, and that God has given us His Spirit in order to live a life that is pleasing to Him.

2 comments so far

  1. Jalene on

    As I sat and listened to this sermon I was reminded of a wedding. I felt the need to write down the things God was showing me… here is what I wrote:

    The bible uses a marriage/wedding as a means of communicating what our relationship to God is. My favorite part of a wedding is when the bride cmoes in. Everone stands and turns to welcome in this radiant beauty. Yes, she is radiant and beautiful. She represents us washed clean, a new creation. This certainly is a miracle to stand and recognize. But I only glance at her. I glance at her to have in my mind what he sees and then I watch him as she walks toward him. The groom represents Christ in this biblical metaphore. I love to watch his face, the awe at her beauty, the love he feels for her in that surreal moment. Everything else falls away. We all have things about us that are less than pleasant, but he isn’t standing up there thinking about all that. In fact I imagine that he and his bride become the only two beings in the universe.

    God doesn’t see our bad stuff on the day of judgement. Christ washed us clean. He loves us more than we can imagine. I certainly don’t think that the universe falls away when God considers His love for me because He loves all His creation. I do believe that He can know each of us so intimately that our minds can’t comprehend how He can manage loving all of us in that way. It certainly seems like the universe falls away with how intensly He loves me, how faithfully He moves in my life… even in the most miniscule ways.

    I use to think I wanted a small wedding, no major deals. Spending all that money on things I will only use once seems pointless in my mind that has been trained for so long to be practical – recycle as much as you can, conserve! BUT… this is a ceremonial witness of the gospel. God calls us to baptism because it is an outward expression of our salvation. A marriage ceremony is an outward expression of not only our salvation, but our sanctification as we walk closer and closer to Jesus until finally we are in His presence sitting at the wedding banquet table rejoicing in the day’s happy events.

    This vision has special meaning for me because of my history. For so many years I couldn’t see my beauty or worth. Even after salvation, my worth/beauty was lost to me. Through the process of sanctification I have finally seen that I have worth beyond sinful things. I can see this because I choose the life grace offers rather than enslavement in death.

  2. sermonrant on

    Thaks Jalene

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