Introuduction and review
We ended yesterday's post by noting how true spiritual freedom means dependance upon God through faith in Jesus Christ. By being set free from condemnation and set free to desire God, the sinner is transformed into a saint who now can live for God. True freedom depends on God. This is what makes Romans 8:1-11 such a maginificent stretch of verses, in that it is the believer's declaration of dependence. The irony of the Gospel is that one is never more free than when their bound to Jesus Christ. Freed from condemnation as a result of depending on His righteousness. (Romans 8:1-2) Free to desire God as a result of dying to my own selfish desires. (Romans 8 Free to live for God as a result of dying to self. (Luke 9:23-24; 14:26-33; Romans 6:19-20)
Today we once more turn our attention to what I am calling the believer's "declaration of dependance" in Romans 8:1-11. This idea is influenced by the founding document of our nation - the "Declaration of Independence". Independence is a fine definition of freedom when we are dealing in the realm of men. However to assert the same definition of freedom in the spiritual realm is to miss the intent of the Gospel. Having spelled out yesterday "what" spiritual freedom is: namely depending on God in Jesus Christ, we now turn to the "how" of this reality. This is to say, how does it look and how do we live out our spiritual freedom in Jesus Christ as those dependant upon God?
1. Get in Christ by faith.
Romans 8:1 states - "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." You and I cannot get "out" of condemnation unless we are "in" Christ. Romans 8:2 describes how this occurs: namely by the Spirit of Life and His guiding influence or what Paul terms "law". On February 20, 1962, decorated WWII and Korean War veteran John Glenn circumnavigated our globe three times in a span of just under 5 hours. Reaching speeds of over 17,000 m.p.h, Glenn achieved a feat that no one had ever accomplished. How did he do it? He did this otherwise impossible feat by climbing into the Mercury program space capsule known as "Friendship 7". Moreover, the laws of lift and science of Rocketry were necessary to overcome the other leading infllence - gravity. Glenn's inaugural journey was one of the quintessential moments that launched the modern space race. You and I dear friend must needs by "in Christ" if we are to declare dependance on God and be set free from condemnation. The abundant Christian life of which Paul speaks is entered into by the New birth in saving faith. (John 1:12-13; 3:3, 16; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23). But there is more to this wonderful scenario, namely...
2. Live out your new found freedom by ordering your mind. Romans 8:3-8
The Christian has the capability of telling their mind how to think. Prior to salvation, we were bound over to sinning out of necessity and thinking around ourselves and to our ends. (Ephesians 2:1-4) However, God intervened in saving grace, broke the chains of sin and quite literally, the bound-over will was free to choose Christ by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:6-9) The remainder of the Christian life is all about taking every thought in my mind that is not of Jesus and bring it under submission to His word. (1 Corinthians 2:10-13; 2 Corinthians 10:4-5) What happens as a we order our minds by the Word of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ? Romans 8:6 explains - "For the mind set on the flesh isdeath, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace."
When a Christian attempts to exercise their mindsets in the way they did before salvation, the result is disastrous. To think in the way of the world, the flesh and the Devil is contrary to the new nature. The Bible refers to the Christian attempting to be what he is not as being "carnal". (1 Corinthians 3:1-4) Sadly, carnal-minded Christians operate way-below their calling, Spirit-given potential and choose to settle. Though the Spirit still indwells such saints, the Spirit is grieved (Ephesians 4:32) and quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
Christians must continue to fight the good fight of faith (2 Timothy 4:6-8) and put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18) to fend off the temptations and allurements of this world. (1 John 2:15-17) We must remember that true spiritual freedom is not marked by our "independence", "self-sufficiency" and "inward focused selves". Rather, true spiritual freedom is marked by dependence upon the One True and Living God Who is Father (James 4:6-8); Son (Matthew 11:28) and Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:16)
If I am going to heed the Father's will, Christ's Lordship and the Spirit's leading, I must get the Bible into me by memorizing and meditating (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 119:11). To depend on God and thus be truly free, instant obedience is the order of the day. (John 14:21-23; James 1:22-25)
So to practically live out the delcaration of dependence on God means starting of course by getting in Christ, followed by daily ordering our minds around the scriptures and training ourselves how to think Godly and thus do godly living.
3. Rely on the indwelling Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9-11
The remarkable thing about spiritual freedom and all that is entailed in the Christian's declaration of dependance on God is the fact that He lives inside of me. God in the Person of the Holy Spirit indwells the Christian at salvation. (Romans 8:14-16; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19-20; 12:1-3; 12-13; Galatians 4:6) This is truly profound. Why? Up until the Old Testament, God and His people related to one another by way of God coming "upon" and "over" the person. In a far lesser but still same sort of way, believers in the Old Testament we saved by grace operating in their hearts to believe on God's promise of salvation. (Genesis 15:6; Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 4:4) This Old Testament work of grace was deemed "circumcision of the heart". God revealed Himself to His people and occupied the tabernacle and temple. Even though the people of God lived for God by His Spirit, His work was mainly outside of them.
When Jesus came and especially when the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 following His ascension, the way in which God was going to work was no longer just "on and upon" but now "in and through". Jesus Himself contrasts both of these distinction in John 14:17 - "that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you." Salvation was from Pentcost on going to be an "inside job". The very God calling believers unto Himself in the New Testament New birth was going to indwell them by the Holy Spirit. Thus to declare our dependance on God means following the Spirit's leading. We say "no" to the flesh (Galatians 5:16) and put on the Lord Jesus Christ by practically heeding the scriptures, coming to God in prayer and learning to discern His voice. (1 Cor 2:10-13; Jude 20-23; Hebrews 4:12-16). The Spirit's abiding work in believer's not only carries them through in this life (Romans 8:9-10) but also delivers them ultimately to the throne as resurrected saints upon the second coming of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:11).
So as we practically live out our freedom in Jesus Christ, how ought it to be? We of course must begin by getting into Christ by faith. (Romans 8:1-2) Secondly, following conversion, we re-order our minds around the scripture. (Romans 8:3-8) Then finally, we rely upon the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-11).
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