In our study of Romans chapter eight, we look at the two major functions of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. By God's grace we know that we are saved and we also have the power to live a life that is pleasing to Him.
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," NIV translation
In chapter 7, we saw that we are no longer under the law and so we know that there is no condemnation for the believer. We also see that those who do not accept Jesus Christ will, in fact, be judged by the law.
"because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." NIV translation
The "law of the Spirit of life" refers to the fact that, as Christians, we are to follow the advice and guidance of the Counselor that was provided. So, we are free from the law but we are not just released to walk in this world on our own. Instead, we are to listen and obey the prompting of God through the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:3 & 4
"For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit." NIV translation
The purpose of the law was to point out sin but it did not have the power to redeem the sinner. That took the act of God sending His Son to perfectly keep the law on our behalf. So. through Christ, the law was fulfilled in the life of every believer.
Romans 8:5 & 6
"Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;" NIV translation
Listening and obeying the prompting of the Holy Spirit will keep us from many harmful actions. On our own, our actions would lead to all kinds of sinful things which separate us from the Father which is death. But, with the Spirit, we have the very mind of God to guide us and to draw us closer to Him who is our life and our peace.
Romans 8:7 & 8
"the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God." NIV translation
The mind that is controlled by the desires of the flesh instead of the Holy Spirit is in direct opposition to the working of God. That does not mean that, when we sin, God turns His back on us but, when the sin controls your mind, you cannot please God. Although the law is powerless to save, it still shows us God's standard of behavior. We are forgiven when we don't live up to what He created us to be but He still wants us to live a holy life.
"You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." NIV translation
Here, we see the first function of the Holy Spirit and that is the fact that you can know that you are saved if you have the Spirit. There are many people that call themselves Christians but, if you ask them, they will tell you that they are not really sure of their salvation. That doubt is not of God but is a scheme of the devil. Our Father does not want us walking around unsure about His love for us. It is really very simple: If you have the Spirit, you are a child of God. If you don't, then, you are not. Got the Spirit?
Romans 8:10 & 11
"But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you." NIV translation
The bodies that we have now are dead and dying but, with the Holy Spirit, comes the promise that we will be raised with new bodies. The Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing what is to come.
"Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation - but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it." NIV translation
Jesus Christ rescued us from the death that we were facing and so Paul reminds us that we don't go back to doing the things that had put us in danger. A simple example of this is: Think of a person that does not know how to swim and yet, while wading in the ocean, they are pulled out and under by the waves. The lifeguard swims out and saves them by pulling them in to the shore. The person does not, then, turn around and run back into the ocean.
Romans 8:13 & 14
"For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." NIV translation
This passage plainly shows us the second function of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian. That is the Spirit is to lead us in our daily lives. That leading (and our following) will allow us to "put to death the misdeeds of the body". That leading is for every part of our daily walk from what we eat to what we say and do, as well as where we go.
Romans 8:15 & 16
"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." NIV translation
Many people walk around every day in fear of different things but the only thing that anyone in this world should fear is God. But, we who have the Holy Spirit do not have a reason to fear anyone or anything. As children of God, we know that He is for us so who or what can stand against us?
"Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." NIV translation
Since we are His children, we are also His heirs and that means that we share in the trials and suffering of this world. It seems that many people are happy with the blessings of God but are not prepared for the persecution that comes with being identified as a Christian.
Romans 8:18 & 19
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed." NIV translation
Our sufferings in the here and now do not compare to the wonderful that is to come. Well, that is all fine and dandy but, as people struggling with the flesh, we aren't really happy with many of the things that we face each day. We go around trying to put a smile on instead of just admitting that this life is not easy but its gonna get better for us, as Christians, when He comes back. Every struggle is an opportunity to be a witness of God's grace to those around us.
Romans 8:20 & 21
"For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God." NIV translation
In Genesis 1, God created all things and it was good. Death and decay entered that perfect world through the disobedience of one man. Since that time, even the earth has longed to go back to perfect harmony with God. That day is coming when all things will be made new and freed from the bondage of sin and death (see Revelation 21).
Romans 8:22 & 23
"We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." NIV translation
All of the earth and everything in it was tainted by sin and is waiting to be renewed. We, who have the Holy Spirit, look for the day to come when we will have our new bodies. These new bodies will no longer face the struggle with the flesh but will be completely free from the effects of that sin.
Romans 8:24 & 25
"For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." NIV translation
Many have been confused by this passage and got the idea that Paul is talking about a hope of salvation but that is not what he is saying. We are saved and we know it because of the daily presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The hope that he is talking about is the hope of our resurrected bodies when Jesus comes back to get us. We patiently wait and hope for that day to come soon!
Romans 8:26 & 27
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." NIV translation
In situations where we do not even know how to put into words our requests, the Holy Spirit communicates with the Father on our behalf. The Spirit always knows the will of God and so speaks on our behalf giving us comfort and guidance as needed. It is so awesome to know that God loves us so much that He made a way for us to communicate with Him even when we do not have the ability to do so on our own.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." NIV translation
God has a plan for everything and, as His children, we know that He wants what is best for us. We know that His hand, as Sustainer of all things, is at work and we can trust in Him.
"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." NIV translation
We are all being made anew into the likeness of Christ. That is quite simply what it is to grow in the faith. This growth is a partnership where God completes the transformation in us as we listen and follow His leading.
"And those he predestined, he also called; those he justified, he also glorified." NIV translation
In the beginning, God knew the entire plan of salvation and He even knew who would accept His grace and who would reject Jesus. Those He knew were going to accept it, were gently called to put their trust in Him. This has been used as an excuse for not sharing the gospel as many have said that God knows those who need to hear and will accept it. That is true that God knows but we do not and so we must scatter the seed in every direction and trust God to cause it to grow and bring the harvest. We also see that those that have been justified (declared not guilty of sin because Jesus took it upon Himself) have also been glorified. That glorified speaks to the fact that people can see the light of Christ in you when you have been set free by the gift of grace through Jesus Christ.
"What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?" NIV translation
Keeping in mind that the Creator of all things has done all of this on our behalf, Paul asks the question of who can oppose us? This can help to strengthen us as we face daily obstacles in our walk with the Lord. No matter what, Jesus said that He would never leave or forsake us.
"He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" NIV translation
What could be of more value than your only child? Most of us would say that there is nothing short of our salvation that is more important. With that in mind, we can remember that God sent His only Son to pay for our sins. If He would not hold back what is dearest to Him, then, why can't we accept and expect that He will provide ALL the things that we need? He gave His best so why wouldn't He give us the rest?
"Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies." NIV translation
God has declared us not guilty as the crime (our sins) were put on Jesus Christ. If God has declared this, then, who has the authority to bring us to trial again? The simple answer is that nobody can do it. But, Satan (our accuser) will try to get us to think that he can and he will try to get us to accuse ourselves. Our defense is to rest in what Jesus has done on our behalf.
"Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." NIV translation
The only one that has been appointed to judge in matters of salvation is Jesus Christ. That judgement is put off until the day of our death or until He comes back (whichever comes first). At that time, those that have rejected his grace will be condemned. Even now, He speaks to the Father in heaven on our behalf.
Romans 8:35 & 36
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: 'For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.'" NIV translation
In his normal style, Paul asks a question and then gives its answer. Here, he asks who or what can separate us from Jesus Christ and the answer is nothing. He quotes from Psalm 44 as a reminder that no matter what we are going through we can walk through it victoriously with Jesus Christ. It is for the glory of God that we live and do everything and that includes going through the tough times.
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." NIV translation
Though the world sees us as "sheep to be slaughtered", Paul says we are even more than survivors or conquerors. Our identity is in Christ and so we are sons of the most high God. We are the owners of everything through our relationship with Him.