“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, we read about God’s amazing grace and His salvation that’s available to all through faith. There is nothing we can do to earn it. And yet, Romans 8:17 makes it sound like there is something we must do to maintain it. However, this ‘suffering’ speaks to our identity in Him—a mark of genuine salvation when we begin to become like Him.
When we are a part of God’s family, we begin to experience the same emotion, the same passion as Christ. We suffer with Him as we begin to see things the way He sees things. We begin to see people the way He sees people. We begin to love the way He loves. We’re compelled to live self-sacrificially because of His great love shed abroad in our hearts.
Jesus, living His life through us, compels us with His love to live self-sacrificially for God’s glory and for the benefit of those that we love so much. This is His passion—His emotion. When we suffer with Him, we care deeply about the things and the people that we never cared about before. That can be agonizing at times, but it is the passion of Christ that He is sharing with us and that we share with Him. As we live and love in the same manner as Christ, we are no longer bound by the fear of losing anything because we know we have the greatest thing in knowing Him!
Romans 8:16-17 says, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
In previous studies, we’ve learned how we can become a part of God’s family by grace through faith. So what does it mean that we “suffer with Him”? Must we experience persecution in order to belong to His family? Or is there more to this idea of suffering than meets the eye?
This past Sunday, we slowly studied just one verse—Romans 8:17—as we carefully considered what it means to suffer with Christ. Watch our study and take time to think about what emotions God experiences.
Who are you in Christ? Are you a carnal creature at odds with and in enmity against God? No! That’s who you were before you yielded to Him. In Christ, you are a new creation—old things have passed away, all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
You have been set free from your old nature and you have been given a new spiritual nature. You have been born again by the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God LIVES and DWELLS within you. You are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit—if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.
That’s why your identity in Christ is so important. You have been given the Spirit of adoption. You can call God “Abba Father Daddy” because you are one of His children. So don’t permit the world, the devil, or your old nature to convince you that you are still a slave to sin, bound to the muck and bound to the mire. They trick you into sowing to the flesh, bringing serious harm to yourself and others.
If the Spirit of God dwells in you, sow to the Spirit. Keep in step with the Spirit. Cultivate a relationship with Him—beginning with acknowledging that He is here, leading us home, available questions and full of answers. He would love to tell you who you are and who Jesus is. He would love to unfold for you what it means to be a child of God and what it means to be an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ. He would love to show you how you can be more than victorious through Him who loves us.
Talk with Him. Spend time with Him. Consume what cultivates an unhindered relationship with Him. Continually set your mind on the things of the Spirit.
Sowing and reaping are real things. One small seed sown can, in time, produce thousands more seeds. This principle has spiritual applications. The content we consume is seed. If that seed feeds our flesh, then we are sowing to the flesh. If it is seed that feeds our spirit, then we are sowing to the Spirit.
It’s important to remember that there is a delay between sowing and reaping. The Apostle Paul knew this, and encourages us to not grow weary of sowing to the spirit for in due season we will reap if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).
After a season of sowing, you may find a harvest of right living and the fruit of the Spirit in your life. But the presence of that fruit doesn’t mean we should stop sowing to the Spirit! It’s a continual process of sowing and reaping.
This past Sunday, we continued looking at Romans 8 as we considered the importance of sowing to the Spirit.
In Acts 8, the preaching of the word of God is mentioned seven times. The man at the center of most of those mentions was a man named Philip. He was one of seven men chosen by the apostles to serve physical food so that the apostles could continue to serve spiritual food as the church began to grow.
While Philip was serving, God was teaching, training, and forming Philip for what was next. Philip had no way of knowing where or when he would serve God, but God did. He was preparing Philip not only to be the first great missionary in the church, but also the first great evangelist!
Whether he was serving physical food or spiritual food, the work meant the same for Philip because it was all unto the Lord. Everything was little compared to what His Lord had already done for him. It was his continually formed heart that allowed him to be continually trained for what was next.
What is next for you? Do you know? You may not know now, but the God you serve does. If you have surrendered to serving Him, then you are in a perfect place for Him to form in you the internal integrity and spiritual sensitivity that is ready for any thing at any time. Any opportunity to give God glory—whether that be serving physical or serving spiritual food.
It’s been said that the greatest commentary of the Bible is the Bible itself. There’s so much that the Bible has to say about itself that it illustrates examples of key aspects that it describes at lengths elsewhere.
As we have been studying what it means to follow the Spirit, it’s helpful to look to the many examples of followers of Jesus in the past who have kept in step with the Spirit that we can learn from.
This past Sunday, we considered one of those examples in the life of Philip in Acts 8. In this passage, we see not only what it looks like to have our mind set on the things of the Spirit, but also about baptism—which is a great preparation for our time for baptisms this coming Sunday (September 11) at Wilson Park right after service.
Watch our study of Acts 8:26-40 as we looked to the life of Philip as an illustration of what it looks like to be in step with the Spirit.
What’s going on in your mind is important. It’s a constant conflict between the flesh and the Spirit for control of your mind. So what you allow to enter our minds is of the utmost importance in determining whether the flesh or the Spirit wins control. You have influence in this battle for our mind!
Ralph Waldo Emerson put it this way: “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and reap a destiny.”
The Apostle Paul understood the struggle that occurs in our minds and the strategy for victory. He also used the metaphor of sowing and reaping to help us pay attention to what we let sink into our minds: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:7-10)
That last line is so important in light of the small battles and the long war that continues for our mind: And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
We mistakenly think that five minutes of Bible reading is an adequate amount of spiritual content for an instant transformation of our character. But that’s not how sowing and reaping works. There is a delay between sowing and reaping. It takes time for what we sow to take root and grow before it can be enjoyed. And that’s why we shouldn’t grow weary while doing good. In due season we will reap what we sow—either the works of the flesh as a result of feeing the flesh, or the fruit of the Spirit as a result of feeding our spirit.
Pause and consider…what are you sowing right now? What content are you consuming in your mind? What will you be reaping in due season? Don’t be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a person sows, that he will also reap.
Even after Christ sets us free, we have a choice of what to set our minds on—the things of the flesh or the things of the Spirit. In our previous studies in Romans, we’ve considered the constant conflict between the flesh (our old sinful nature) and the Spirit (our new nature in Christ) for mind—the place where we make decisions and take action.
We have influence over this conflict by choosing which side to feed. This choice is as simple being careful of the content we consume in our mind. Just like planing a seed, our thoughts will yield a harvest. God’s word makes it clear—if we sow to the flesh, we will reap corruption. But if we sow to the Spirit, we will reap eternal life.
Watch our study of Romans 8:5-6 as we considered the eternal importance of sowing and reaping.
If anyone has the authority to give us an honest assessment that we can believe, receive, and enjoy, it is God. He is the only ultimate authority that can accurately appraise our value and worth.
And yet when we hear His honest assessment of us, we too often disbelieve its accuracy, reject its honesty, or redirect its sincerity—and intentionally or not, we question His authority in our lives.
Instead, we must repent, believe, receive, and enjoy His true and accurate view of us. God has so many more wonderful and honest assessments of our current condition in Christ that have to do with His character and His grace. As a loving, life-giving authority in our lives, He really wants us to believe Him and receive what He says is true—without disbelieve, false humility, or rejection.
Because we struggle with this, we need a helper—someone who could not only bring back to remembrance of all that God has said to us, but also someone would could help us to actually believe, receive, and enjoy all that He has said to us.
We have such a helper—the Holy Spirit! He is our teacher and guide through the scriptures. The Holy Spirit helps us understand God’s honest assessment of our current condition in Christ and helps us to act as more than a conquerer through Him who loves us. We simply need to co-operate and give Him the opportunity to do so. That is walking and serving in the newness of the Spirit.
Romans 8 begins with no condemnation (see Romans 8:1) and ends with no separation (see Romans 8:38-39). In between these two magnificent truths is a description of our victory through life in the Holy Spirit.
In fact, Romans 8:37 says life can be even more than a victory for you through Him who loves you. But why is it that we sometimes struggle with receiving and implementing this reality in our lives? What keeps us from believing, receiving, and enjoying this truth?
It’s something we considered as we looked at Romans 8:1-4 again this past Sunday. Though we studied the same scripture last week, there is so much depth to these verses that we needed to plunge its depths again! Watch our 2nd study from Romans 8:1-4 and join us this Sunday as we worship the Lord and continue our study in Romans.
In Romans 7, we read about the ongoing war for control of your mind. It’s the war between the flesh and the spirit battling for that part of you that makes decisions.
If it seems like the war has intensified since you surrendered to Jesus, it has. Your flesh has been continually corrupted by its deceitful desires since your were saved and set free to follow your flesh or the Spirit.
It’s so important the know that this war for control of your mind will persist until you arrive in Heaven. Which is why it is so important to starve what feeds the flesh and reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, and consume what feeds the spirit to be alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In Romans 8, we discover where victory in this war is found—walking according to the Spirit. In the Spirit is freedom from the flesh—freedom they tyranny of thinking that God’s favor must be earned through legalism.
We don’t have to earn His favor—Jesus did this for us! We’re no longer under the law of God—we are free to simply fellowship with Him. That is what He has saved us for—fellowship with Him. So enjoy the freedom you have in Christ to live in free fellowship with Him today!
Romans 8:1 is one of the most magnificent statements and important truths in all of the Bible: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…”
In order to appreciate this truth to the fullest, we need to consider it in its context—which includes an odd verse before it, and the verse following it.
At first read, it seems as though these two verses go together. However, there is something in these three verses together that will not only help us appreciate Romans 8:1, but will also help us properly appropriate the truth we find in Romans 8:1.
Watch our study from Sunday as we dive deep into the first four verses of Romans 8.
With our minds, we are limited to just wanting to serve the law of God. But our flesh (our body) wants to serve another law—the law of sin. So we struggle as we look for a solution, which is only found in Christ. Through Him we are able to live in the newness of the Spirit because we have been made alive spiritually.
Think this through—we are made up of an inferior trinity: body, mind, and spirit. Before Christ, we are spiritually dead in our sins and transgressions. So without Christ, the order is upside down:
Our flesh, our bodily appetites, rules over us—telling our mind what to do. That’s the struggle we read about in Romans 7 as Paul describes the tension between knowing what’s wrong, but doing it anyway.
But when we are born again of the Spirit, we’re made alive spiritually and the right order is restored:
Now, our spirit communes with the Holy Spirit and renews our mind so our mind communicates to our body what to do!
The problem is that even when we are born again, we can neglect the fact that we have been made alive spiritually—that we have been called to serve in the newness of the Spirit. If we neglect this life in the Spirit, we’ll be stuck in Romans 7. But if we walk according to the Spirit, there is no condemnation and we joyfully live in the promises found in Romans 8.
Have you neglected this reality or have yet to be born again in the Spirit? Jesus Christ wants to deliver you from a body of death! Call out to Him and ask Him to revive or resurrect you spiritually so that you can walk with no condemnation, no separation from Him, and in the newness of the Spirit.
At the end Romans 7, the Apostle Paul expresses what we all feel—the push and pull between mind and flesh. He knows the right thing to do, but he does what is wrong anyway. In desperation, he asks, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
It’s not the law. While the law is good, it cannot give life or save and sanctify us. The only thing that the law can do is show us that we have fallen short of God’s ideal.
Thankfully, Paul provides the answer in the very next verse: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” And throughout the next chapter, we read of the newness of the Spirit available in Christ: no condemnation, no separation, more than conquerers.
This Sunday, we considered the newness of the Spirit made possible to us through Christ as an introduction to one of the greatest chapters in all of scripture. Read ahead as we dive into this amazing chapter this coming Sunday!
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
There’s a mistake in seeking the gift rather than the Gift Giver. When we become focused on the thing we think we want rather than the One that’s wanting us, we lose out on a deeper relationship with Him.
Author Oswald Chambers understood this. For four long years, he was constantly seeking the gift of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. But he became increasingly frustrated because he didn’t receive the kind of confirmation he thought he should receive. It was only after he read Luke 11:13 that he understood that he was looking for the gift rather than the Gift Giver.
So he simply said, “God, please baptize me with your Holy Spirit. God, thank you for baptizing me with your Holy Spirit.”
He believed. He received. It’s as simple as that.
So how should we respond to all that we’ve learned about the person and the help and the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Just believe and receive. If you are looking for a more complicated answer, there isn’t one. Believe God when He says that He wants to give you a gift. And then thank Him for the gift He has given you.
We've gotten to know the Holy Spirit—who the Holy Spirit is, what the Holy Spirit does, and the gifts the Holy Spirit gives. In light of this, what should our response be? What must we do? It’s a common question…with an uncommon answer.
There are many gifts the Holy Spirit gives. To better understand these gifts and their uses, we looked at 1 Corinthians chapters 12, 14, and 13 in that order and on purpose.
1 Corinthians 12 introduces us to many of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and begins by saying, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant…” It’s important that we know about the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 14 teaches us about their proper use within the gathering of believers—“Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40). It’s also important that we know how to use the gifts the Holy Spirit gives us.
But using God’s gifts outside of God’s way is frustrating and annoying. Thankfully, God has “a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31). It’s the way we discover in 1 Corinthians 13—love!
Love must always be in the middle of receiving and using the gifts that God gives by His Holy Spirit. You see, these gifts aren’t really given for you. They are given to you to help to love others. Love for God and love for others must be in the middle of all that we do, especially in this area of spiritual gifts.
In Matthew 7:11, Jesus says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
This past Sunday, we considered the good gifts God gives us through the Holy Spirit. Knowing what these gifts are was only half of our study. It’s essential that we have a proper understanding of how we are to use these gifts and why He has given them to us.
Watch this third part of our Walk in the Spirit series—then join us next Sunday at 10am as we conclude this series and consider our response to the Holy Spirit.
Jesus didn’t leave us as orphans. He didn’t leave us comfortless or helpless. He sent the Comforter, the Helper—the Holy Spirit who comforts, helps, and teaches us. But these are just a few of the things the Holy Spirit does.
The Holy Spirit also reminds us of God’s word. Have you ever had a conversation with someone, and a certain scripture pops into your head? That’s the Holy Spirit at work, who helps you by teaching and reminding you.
But wait! There’s more—so much more!
The Holy Spirit empowers us (Acts 1:8); leads us (Romans 8:14); guides us into all truth (John 16:13); strengthens us (Ephesians 3:16); seals us (Ephesians 1:13); teaches us to pray (Romans 8:26-27).
And if you don’t have a relationship with the Holy Spirit yet, the Spirit walks alongside you to convict you of your sin, shows you Jesus’ righteousness, and warns you of the coming judgment (John 16:8) so that you can know Him and He can live in you and you can live forever!
You can walk in the Spirit right now! We can’t earn salvation—no amount of self-help will ever be enough help! We are saved by God’s grace when we have faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. All you have to do is realize that you (like everyone else) are a sinner, that Christ died for your sins, and ask Him for forgiveness. Then turn from your sins and begin your daily relationship with Him. And with each passing day, your reliance upon Him will grow and grow.
The Bible is so much more than a self-help book, yet many approach it as if rules and regulations will finally help them overcome life’s many problems. “If I could only try harder to control myself enough to actually do what the Bible says to do, then one day maybe I could actually have self-control.” This thinking is a tragic mistake.
When we look at the Bible like a self-help book, we err in thinking that all we have to do is try harder. But trying harder and attempting to control ourselves doesn’t work! A reliance on the Holy Spirit that comes naturally though a daily relationship does!
As we consider Paul’s encouragement in Romans 8:1, we’re taking a closer look at what it means to walk in the Spirit so that we won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. Last Sunday, we learned who the Holy Spirit is. This past Sunday, we looked at what the Holy Spirit does and how He helps us.
Imagine what physically walking with Jesus would be like. Following in His footsteps day after day. Talking with Him by the Sea of Galilee or in Jerusalem. Watching Him performing amazing miracles. Listening to His parables and teachings. Imagine how reliant on Him you’d become—when difficult situations would come up, Jesus would respond.
Just as we would become reliant on Jesus to provide for us daily while walking with Him, Jesus wants us to have an even deeper reliance on the Person, presence, and power of the Holy Spirit. He said that our relationship with the Holy Spirit would be even more real, tangible, and helpful than having Him physically walk by our side (see John 16).
So how do we develop this daily reliance on the Holy Spirit? Just like the disciples developed a reliance on Jesus—by walking with Him daily. Which really takes the pressure off, doesn’t it? You don’t need to solve some spiritual puzzle or attain a certain level of holiness. You just have to practice the presence of God—start walking and talking with Him as you develop a personal relationship with Him. Like any relationship, it will take time as you walk and talk with the Holy Spirit every day. And it can start right now!
You see, reliance comes from relationships—and relationships start with, “hello.” So if you haven’t said, “hello” to the Holy Spirit, why not say “hello” right now? And if you have, continue to speak to Him throughout the day, every day—and you’ll find that as your relationship with Him grows, your reliance upon Him will deepen.
Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” But what does it mean to “walk in the Spirit?” It's an important question to ask—and answer. Before we start this walk, we took time on Sunday to get to know the Holy Spirit.
What does it mean to “serve in the newness of the Spirit”(Romans 7:6)? This is one of the most important questions a believer in Jesus can ask because the answer is the only way to get off of the swing from license to legalism. Unfortunately as believers, we swing back and forth between these two extremes for much of our walk with the Lord.
We start our walk with Jesus so thankful for grace and grateful that the thimble of our sin was fully overwhelmed by the ocean of God’s grace. As we understand this unmerited favor, there comes a season where we take it for granted. If we’re not careful, we start to justify sinful choices on the basis that we have God’s forgiveness and use God’s amazing grace as a license to sin.
Convicted of this, we overreact and feel as though discipline and devotion and rules and regulations are what we need to prevent falling into temptation so we can re-earn God’s favor. We continue for a time until it gets exhausting and wonder why we even try—after all, God is going to forgive us anyway.
So we swing back to license…then back to legalism…and back and forth, again and again. But there is a new way to serve God that get’s us off of this awful and exhausting pendulum.
On that pendulum, the law is the pivot point and sin is the power that makes it swing. What an awful abusive relationship as we are battered between two extremes! The only way out of this awful and abusive relationship is for us to die. But how? How could we somehow die to the law and to sin and then be born again to newness of life and live in and serve in the newness of the Spirit?
The answer is found at the end of Romans 7—“I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25)
When we died with Christ, we died to the law and to sin. When we rose with Christ, we rose to newness of life—we have been born again to newness of life! And now, we no longer desire to find a balance in the tension between license and legalism, but our desire is to live in and to serve in the newness of the Spirit.
There are two extremes in reaction to God’s grace: on one side there is license; on the other side, there is legalism.
On one side of the spectrum, there are those who see God’s unmerited favor too good to be true. It’s almost too dangerous to tell people that they are completely forgiven and righteous forever because of Jesus. After all, wouldn’t they use that as permission to sin? This is license—“since we are saved by grace, we are free to live however we please.”
On the other side of the spectrum, others feel compelled to avoid the dangers of license and think it is necessary for strict adherence to some sort of tether to goodness and godliness—a law we must live by if we are to have any hope of pleasing God. This is legalism—“we must please God by living according to the law to sanctify ourselves through our own efforts to be good.”
Normally when there are extremes on either end, there is usually a position found somewhere in the middle. But, that’s just not the case here. God has something for us that is completely separate from this entire spectrum.
Watch or listen to our study of Romans 7 as we understand how we can be free from the pull of these two extremes.
From Pastor Dom...
When I first gave my life to Jesus, there were friends in my life who helped me to grow in my understanding of God, through His word, and for those friends