Romans 8:10

You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.  (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all.)  And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. (Romans 8:9-10, NLT, 10 underlined)

Unless we are still alive when Christ comes back, we are going to die.  Whether today or eighty years in the future, we are going to die.

Dying is not good news.  Death is not the natural event people sometimes make it out to be.  Death is the most unnatural thing I have ever witnessed.  It’s horrific.  Watching a death is watching the identity or being of someone . . . vanish from their body.  Without the presence of a person, the body is a shell.  This presence, being, identity . . . this is the soul.

Where is your soul going to go when it has to leave your body?

No matter how much you exercise, brush your teeth, or eat tofu, you are still going to die.  No matter whether you make it on the Forbes top 100 or Oprah or the New York Times Bestseller, you are still going to die.  No matter if you give all your money away or score 2400 on your SAT test or beat screen 117 of Donkey Kong, you are still going to die.

Where is your soul going to go when it has to leave your body?

If Christ lives in you, your soul will leave to live forever with God.

And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. (Romans 8:10)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

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Romans 8:9

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all.) (Romans 8:9, NLT)

Have you ever heard someone talk about “Christmas spirit” or “the spirit of Christmas”?  “Christmas spirit” is a mood or a will to be generous and cheerful.

But the Holy Spirit—in Romans 8:9 called the Spirit of Christ—is not a mood.  The Holy Spirit is a presence.  The Holy Spirit is a Being, not an emotion.  God manifests Himself to us in three forms, as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is Christ’s gift to His followers.  After He died on the cross and was resurrected from the grave, He went back to Heaven.  But He didn’t leave us here alone!  Instead, He sent us His Spirit, God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit.

What does it mean to have the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is the presence within a Christ follower that encourages the follower to pursue God through Jesus Christ.  There are lots of people who try to pursue God, but the Holy Spirit reveals the only way to find God: by faith in Jesus Christ.

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all.) (Romans 8:9, NLT)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on April 25, 2011 at 6:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Romans 8:8

That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. (Romans 8:8)

No good works are ever going to get us to Heaven because, without Jesus Christ, they aren’t good works.  They are bad works.  And with Jesus Christ, those good works don’t need to get us to Heaven, because Jesus Christ has already paid for our entrance there!

Have you ever tried very hard to do good works to please God?  It’s a hard path and it leads to the same place trying to do bad works leads: Hell.

In Pilgrim’s Progress[1], an analogy about the Christian life, the main character—appropriately named Christian—hears that salvation from destruction is possible.  He sets out on a journey to find salvation.  Along the way, a man tells him that he needs to go over a hill to the town of Morality to find a man named Legality.  That sounds easy enough.

But when he starts climbing the hill, he discovers he’s made a BIG mistake.  The hill is impossibly high, and he’s afraid he’s going to fall to his death.  As if this isn’t hard enough, the fires of Hell start shooting up from the ground.  He very nearly dies trying to get back down.

The problem with trying to get to Heaven doing good works is that we can’t do good works if we’re bad.  We can certainly make choices that are less horrible than other choices, but our sin nature doesn’t allow us to make a single good choice.  Good works are only possible through Jesus Christ, and at the point you believe in Jesus, you don’t need those good works, you want to do them!

That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. (Romans 8:8)

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[1] Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, 1678.  This is a wonderful story, but I would recommend reading a modern translation, since the English of his day is difficult to read now.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Romans 8:7

For the sinful nature is always hostile to God.  It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. (Romans 8:7, NLT)

Every human on the face of the earth recognizes their sinful nature.  It may be their closest confidant or their worst enemy, but it never goes away.  It never sleeps.  It never takes it easy on you.  And it never stops talking.

There have only been three humans to have ever begun their existence without a sin nature: Adam, Eve, and Jesus.  Adam and Eve brought the sin nature on humanity by choosing it over God’s nature already within them.  The rest of us, born to them, don’t know what it’s like to live without a sin nature.  We inherited it from the two very selfish people who wrecked the lives of every descendant they would ever have.

Jesus, however, is not a descendant of Adam and Eve.  Jesus, fully God, came down as a second Adam, to reverse the curse the first Adam placed upon humanity.  He did not lose God’s nature.  With His death, all people who accept His payment for their sins by believing in Him are eternally freed.

Eternally freed doesn’t mean this body isn’t still a mess.  Until our bodies are transformed (by our death or the return of Jesus), we are stuck with the sin nature.  I picture this sort-of like how a bulldog is stuck with its rather unattractive head.  The bulldog can’t leave its head behind to find a new one.

Even though Jesus’ followers are stuck with their sin nature as long as they live in these messed-up bodies, the good news is we don’t have to follow it.  God’s Spirit makes it possible for us to turn and follow Jesus Christ instead.

For the sinful nature is always hostile to God.  It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. (Romans 8:7, NLT)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on April 24, 2011 at 10:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Romans 8:6

So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. (Romans 8:6, NLT)

What an incredibly simple and perfect way to explain the two choices we have.

On the one hand, we can let our minds go to those places our sinful natures so desire, and we get exactly what was ask for: death.  Relationships die, opportunities die, and, eventually, we die.

On the other hand, if we follow Jesus, we can trust His Spirit to control our minds, and, again, we get exactly what we ask for: life and peace.

Peace is awfully hard to come by in this world.  The top news stories quite often proclaim global disrest.  Trendy magazines, books, and blogs reveal ways for us to improve ourselves so we can (allegedly) have more peace.  Best-selling novels and video games transport us to a world more inviting than ours, or to explore a character more ‘interesting’ than us, or go on an adventure more exciting.

There’s a never-ending list of ways we can live longer or better or happier . . . and there’s constant unrest that comes from the inevitable disappointment these ways bring.  Peace, then, is finding life.

We spend our lives looking for life.

Why?

Because life brings peace.

And death brings distress.

We don’t want to die.  We want to live.

But the garbage thoughts we have . . . don’t bring us to life.  They bring us to the very thing we want to avoid: death.

So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death.  But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. (Romans 8:6, NLT)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on April 24, 2011 at 10:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Romans 8:5

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. (Romans 8:5, NLT)

We can’t go north and south at the same time.  And we can’t think good and evil thoughts at the same time.

This verse doesn’t say a Jesus follower will never have evil thoughts.  Jesus is making His followers perfect, but they are not perfect until their sinful nature dies—until they die, or, if Jesus comes back before they die, then as soon as He transforms their bodies.  Like caterpillars to butterflies, they will be without the ugly sin nature at last.

Until that time, those of us who follow Jesus are in an all-out war.  Our old sin nature battles the Holy Spirit who lives within us.  And every second of every day, we make a choice: follow the sin nature or follow the Spirit.

How do we know if we’re following the Spirit? The Spirit gives us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23).  If our thoughts aren’t bringing us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, we can be sure we are not following the Spirit.

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.  (Romans 8:5, NLT)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Romans 8:4

[God] did this [giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins] so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.  (Romans 8:4, NLT)

There is no separation in the Bible between believing in Jesus as Master and Savior . . . and following Him.

Today, though, our culture—even sometimes our churches—have become confused about what it means to believe in Jesus.  In some people’s minds, Christianity seems to be a hobby, like baseball or baking.  Or, Christianity seems to be a special event, like a birthday party or a trip to Disney Land.  Or, Christianity seems to be a philosophical stance to be debated and critiqued.  Or, Christianity seems to be a political persuasion.

But the Bible tells us a different story.

The Bible says that Christianity is following Jesus.  Not as a hobby, but 24/7.  Not for a special event, but for every event.  Not for philosophy, but for faith-and-action.  And not for politics, but for Person.

Jesus will change how His followers use free time, celebrate special moments, make sense of the world, and respond to the government.  But Jesus isn’t limited to our categories.  He is everything worth living for.

But it is not possible to follow Jesus Christ on our own.

So Jesus, having purified His followers through His blood, gives them His Spirit.

This Spirit is Holy.

And this Spirit draws His followers to His holiness.

[God] did this [giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins] so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on April 24, 2011 at 5:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Costing Christ

Often times we think of Christ as having suffered and died, and that pain being over . . . but we miss the connection between the present and the past.  If Christ died for all sins, then every sin I commit in my present cost Him pain in His past.  I am actively causing Christ pain by my choice to sin, by adding to what He paid for on the cross.

There are things that Christ must still suffer through His body, the church. (Colossians 1:24b, NCV)

There is no sin that could ever be worth Christ’s suffering.  There is no anger, no grudge, no bitterness, no fear, no anxiety, no lust, no jealousy, no hostility, no addiction, no selfishness . . . that could ever be worth the suffering of Christ Jesus my Redeemer.

I want to live my life right now, right this second, in a way that shows I revere the price He is paying for me.

A reminder for all who follow Christ.  (And if you don’t follow Him, there is no better time than now, and there may not even be any time besides now.  He will pay for you, too.)

You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives.  The Spirit is in you and is a gift from God.  You are no longer your own. God paid a great price for you. So use your body to honor God. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, CEV)

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Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Romans 8:3b

So God did what the law could not do. He sent His own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins.  (Romans 8:3b, NLT)

It’s easy to imagine someone giving pain, but it’s hard to imagine someone taking pain away.  Even the people we love most don’t take our pain away from us.  They can’t erase our deepest regrets or unravel our most tangled problems or make up for our worst traumas.  At best, they can be there for us, and, let’s face it, they aren’t there for us all the time.

The idea, then, that someone we don’t know could come along—would come along—and take away all our regrets, all our problems, all our traumas . . . is almost unimaginable.  Almost.  But isn’t this really what we wish for, what we most crave?

When Jesus took away our sin, there was only one place He could place it: on Himself.

So God did what the law could not do. He sent His own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins.  (Romans 8:3b, NLT)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on April 24, 2011 at 12:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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Romans 8:3a

The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. (Romans 8:3A, NLT)

The law of Moses was the 10 commandments, and the regulations that came with those laws. A lot of people think of them as the “Thou shalt/Thou shalt not” commandments.

“Thou shalt” and “thou shalt not” is an English translation from about 400 years ago, and it reflects the language of that day.  Today we would relate better to “You must” and “you must not”.

People tend to hate rules, not because the rules are wrong, but because we are wrong.  There’s nothing wrong, for example, with making a rule that you have to slow down to 15 mph in neighborhoods to protect children who might be out playing.  There is something wrong with us when we don’t want to do it.  Yet if it is our child who gets hit by a speeding car, we are furious the rules weren’t followed.

God’s laws are the same way.  We may not want to follow them, but we want everyone else to!  The cost of this kind of thinking is a world that is often times very hard to live in.  We take advantage of each other, lie to each other, hurt each other, and some people even kill others.

So we don’t need to be rescued from the rules, but from ourselves!  It is us who are broken.  Even when we try to follow the rules, we always come up short.  This is because our sinful nature, growing inside us, is in an all-out war for our soul!  Our sinful nature does its best to break every rule in the book, making us less and less fit for the Kingdom of God, and more and more fit for Hell.

The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. (Romans 8:3A, NLT)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on April 24, 2011 at 12:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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