Sunday: Romans 8
In order to live a victorious Christian life we must first get our thinking straight. Freedom begins in the mind. As long as we remain deceived nothing can change. We have to see the new realities that have come to us through Christ and steadfastly hold on to those truths in order to escape the cycle of failure Paul has just described (Ro 7:14-25). In Romans 8:1-4 Paul lists three foundational truths which make it possible for us to fulfill the requirement of the Law (Ro 8:4), which ultimately means to love God with all our heart, soul and mind (Mt 22:37-40) and our neighbor as ourselves (Ro 13:8-10).
Monday: Romans 8:1
v1: In verse one Paul says, There is now no condemnation to the ones in Christ Jesus (literal) meaning believers do not fall from grace when they sin. The atoning work of the cross not only cleanses those sins we commit before becoming a Christian, but also continues to atone for the sins we commit after becoming a Christian (Ro 8:33, 34; Heb 7:23-27). As long as true faith burns in the heart a persons sin is forgiven. Yes, the Bible acknowledges the possibility of someone renouncing his or her faith in Christ (Heb 6:1-8; 2Pe 2:19-22) or becoming re-enslaved to sin to the point that faith is extinguished (Ro 6:16; 8:13), but these are viewed as extreme and unusual situations. Far more common is the cycle of frustration Paul describes in 7:14-25: believers who want to obey God but repeatedly fail because they do not know how to escape the power of temptation.
Tuesday: Romans 8:1
v1 (continued): It is to those in this latter category that Paul directs his words. He assures those who are frustrated with themselves (or worried about those who are weak) that our sins continue to be forgiven while we learn how to escape this cycle. In reality all of us need a constant flow of mercy for the rest of our lives because even the best of us continues to fall short of Gods standards. So, for the rest of our lives we must refuse to allow condemnation and shame to drive us away from Christ, and continue to bring our sins to Him, confident that He forgives us. Pauls first foundational truth to which every believer must cling is. I am forgiven.
Wednesday: Romans 8:2
v2: The second foundational truth to which every believer must cling is: I am free. Prior to being born-again I was a slave to both Adams nature (a rebellious, independent, selfish spirit) and my own sinful flesh, but when I was joined to Christ my spirit was set free and elevated to its proper position of rulership over my flesh. Now, I am able to obey the Holy Spirit. Believers who repeatedly fail to obey God over a long period of time may wrongly assume that it is because they are helpless slaves to that sin, but Paul says that is not true. He says,
the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from sin and of death. Christ has set every believer free from sin and the death that comes with it. Failure to walk in that freedom shows that I have not yet learned to lay hold of the power that has been provided. As a Christian I can never say, I cant change, only, I have not yet learned how to live in the freedom Christ has won for me.
Thursday: Romans 8:3
v3: The third foundational truth is this: I am full. I am no longer alone in my battle against sin. Because of Christ the Holy Spirit is now able to dwell within me. The Law of Moses failed to produce obedience because it was unable to provide people with the power to escape from the control of sin. Pauls description of his own attempt to obey the command, You shall not covet/lust (Ro 7:7-13) illustrates this failure. He says,
the Law (of Moses) was powerless because it was weak through the flesh
. Without Gods help humans are unable to obey His Law. Even those who diligently observe its required rituals (Php 3:4-6) inevitably fail when it comes to internal attitudes (Mt 5:21, 22, 27, 28, 43-48). We cannot meet Gods standards of inner purity or love our neighbors as ourselves (Ro 13:8-10). Those standards are too high and our flesh is too strong.
Friday: Romans 8:3
v3 (continued): Paul says God solved this problem by
sending His own Son in the likeness (homoiomati) of sinful flesh
. This means Jesus became a man with flesh just like ours. He experienced the same temptations, emotions and weaknesses we face, but He never sinned (Heb 4:15). And when He died the power of that sin in the flesh was broken. Apparently, sin infects not only our human spirit but also the flesh of our physical bodies. They too have been sold into bondage to sin (Ro 7:14). They too have become rebellious. This is one of the reasons Jesus had to be physically incarnated to save us. He needed to do more than just release our spirits from Adams rebellion. He also needed to atone for our bodies so that sin would no longer have the moral right to govern them.
Saturday: Romans 8:3
v3 (continued): Our physical bodies have participated in our sins, and as a result have come under Gods judgment and are sentenced to death. Even our flesh needs atonement and deliverance from sins dominion. And this took place when Jesus died. By faith our spirit and our flesh are both joined to Him in His death and sin loses its right to control us. In the spiritual world our participation in His death has the same effect as though we ourselves had physically died. And this is true of His resurrection as well so that the Spirit of life that raised Him from the dead dwells in us just as it (He) does Him, infusing our bodies with His life. Here is where we find the new source of power that will enable us to obey God. The same Spirit that brought Christ to life, which is the Holy Spirit, is now united with my spirit and fills my body. What was once unclean and under the judgment of death has been cleansed and has become a holy temple in which Gods Spirit can dwell. As a believer, I am not only forgiven (8:1) and free (8:2), but full of the power of God (8:3).