The Good Life and the Indwelling of the Spirit (Romans 8:9-17)
One of my supreme joys in life is being a father. I still remember the first time my son uttered my name, "dadda", and took his first tottering steps. As I reflect on the origins of my relationship with my son, I am reminded of the beginning of my relationship with God. I have to believe that God was pleased when I said his name as his child. I believe he was delighted as I took my first steps of obedience and entered the waters of baptism at an early age. It is one of the greatest privileges of the believer in Christ to call God our Father in Heaven. An examination of how this is possible is magnificent and mysterious. When a person begins to realize and believe the truth of the good life in Christ, the Spirit of God enters in them and begins to change them from the inside out. Their whole outlook and motivation for living changes. They start to realize that they are not their own, nor are they controlled by way of the flesh anymore. They can experience victory and benefits on earth and confidence beyond the grave due to the indwelling and empowering Spirit of Christ.
Romans 8:9-17 reminds us of the many benefits we experience today and tomorrow as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit of God in our hearts. In verses 9-11, Paul reminds believers that it is the work of the Spirit of God that imputes the righteousness of Christ to our souls. It is this righteousness that is the source of resurrection life in our souls and eventually our bodies. In verses 9-11, Paul writes, "You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact, the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you." Upon reading these verses, we begin to wonder what response we should have toward God due to this work of righteousness that gives life through his Spirit. In Romans 6:11-13,
Paul offers at least three responses:
He says we consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Vs.11).
He calls us to refuse to allow sin to reign in our bodies and give in to the flesh's passion (Vs. 12).
He calls us to walk as those who have been given a righteousness that leads to life.
Romans 6:13 says, "Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you since you are not under law but under grace."
The beauty and comfort of Romans 8:9-11 are essential for believers to grasp and remember, especially in times of difficulty and darkness. The second half of this passage, Romans 8:12-17, assures believers that the flesh does not have the final say in their lives. Instead, the intimate, persistent witness of the Spirit of God quietly whispers who they are and what they will gain if they do not give up. The battle of the flesh and the Spirit is real. However, true sons of God are called to be led by the Spirit and to put to death the desires of the flesh. We are also to be reminded that we were adopted into the family through Christ and have the great privilege of calling God "Father" as Jesus does. We are heirs of the promises Jesus has fulfilled and will fulfill. The journey for the believer in Christ will not be comfortable. We must be willing to suffer as Jesus did on earth if we are to share in his glory someday. It is good to know that when we are persecuted or struggling, the Spirit of God enters the darkness to reminds us we are adopted sons who serve an ever-present Heavenly Father. It is the most incredible privilege to be able to cry out "Abba! Father!" when we are joyful or sorrowful.
As I prepared this message, I was reminded of the song written by Bill Gaither in 1970, The Family of God. In this beautiful song, the words ring out as follows:
I'm so glad I'm a part of the Family of God,
I've been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I'm part of the family,
The Family of God.
Are you a part of the family of God? Have you been forgiven and cleansed by the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Son of God? If so, you are a part of the eternal family of God on this sod called earth and into the promise land beyond this life.