The Indwelling Spirit's Invisible War (Romans Sermon 51 of 120)
January 13, 2002 | Andrew Davis
War Against the Flesh, Life in the Spirit
I. The Mortification of Sin
Please, if you would open your Bibles and look with me at Romans chapter 8, we're going to be zeroing in this morning on Romans 8:9-13, the indwelling spirit's invisible war. Now, I'd like to ask you to imagine if you would, that you were living back in the Middle Ages and you were in a walled city in a castle, and you had received news. The city had received news that your bitterest enemy had invaded your borders. And scouts had come back and said that there was absolutely no doubt whatsoever that sometime before dawn, the attack would come on your city. And suppose the commander of your city told you to stand on the ramparts on the wall and watch. With what kind of attitude would you watch that night? What kind of passion would keep you awake all night long? In effect, that's what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus said to Peter and to the other disciples, watch and pray, so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is what? It is weak.
And so Peter was commanded that night to watch diligently, and to pray and to prepare for the onslaught of temptation. And you remember what happened to him, the same thing that happens to you, he fell asleep and he did not watch. He did not prepare himself for that battle and so he fell into sin. And so we have before us in the text here, described a war that God is calling us to. It is an internal war, a war with the flesh, a war with sin. And we are called to fight that war by the power of the Spirit. Look at verse 13, it says, "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." As some might say, "Them's fighting words." That is the language of warfare, that is... You're being called to enlist and to fight a battle. You're being called to stand on the wall and watch, because the enemy will most certainly come. One Puritan writer said, "When sin let's us alone, we'll let sin alone, but until then we're going to fight." And so we're called to a war, we're called to a fight.
Now what is the context of this? Well, the context is glorious good news, isn't it? Isn't Romans 8 one of the greatest chapters in the Bible? Romans 8:1 says, "There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." No condemnation for you, if you are Christian. And that's wonderful good news. But along with it in this chapter, comes a serious warning that while we may be free from sin's condemning power, we are not free from sin's indwelling influence and presence. We have a bitter foe that seeks our very life and we are not free from the command of God, "Be perfect therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect." "You shall be holy, because I am holy." "Make every effort," it says in Hebrews 12:14 "to be holy. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord." That's an incredibly important passage. What it's saying is that there's a holiness that comes as a result of your spirit filled effort. And if you don't have that, what I call sanctification holiness, you're not a Christian. And if you're not Christian, you will not see the Lord. And so we're right in the business of sanctification here in Romans 8:9-13. I think these verses maybe the most important verses in the Bible on how you fight sin internally by the power of the Spirit. We are called to fight.
Living the Two Journeys
Now, I didn't want to give you a static impression like we are in a castle, as if we're not moving, or that we're kind of like stuck here. We're actually more called to journey out. A perilous quest, somewhat like the Lord of the Rings. Some of you have seen that movie or read the book. There's a sense that we're called to move out and to journey across a perilous quest. And we're given, I think, laid before, as I've said before, two journeys that seem to have no end. The journey of internal holiness, the way of holiness growing until you are perfect like Jesus morally. And how long a journey is that? And then laying out before us also is the journey of world evangelization. That we should take this Gospel message to the ends of the earth and proclaim it to those who haven't heard. And I have found that in the church life, the two intimately go together, don't they? Who is it that's going to be faithful to take the Gospel, who's going to be preaching, who's going to be proclaiming, but those who are putting sin to death in their own lives. Those that are growing in holiness, those that are truly Christians. So these two journeys are enmeshed together. The journey of discipleship, the journey of evangelism. And it's to that that we are called.
Now, the good news of the Gospel, we've already understood is that justification by faith clears us of the guilt of all sins. If you've heard the Gospel message of Jesus Christ our Savior, dead on the cross, buried on the third day, he was raised again to new life, and you realize that he died in the place of sinners just like you. And that if you trust in Him, you'll have eternal life. You've heard that message, you have believed you're justified just at that moment, instantaneously clear to the guilt of all sin. And so there is for you now, no condemnation if you're in Christ. Wonderful, good news. But just as soon as you are justified, the Holy Spirit, the indwelling Spirit comes into you and begins to say, "Let's Move. Let's start growing. Let's start walking like a Christian. Let's be holy. Let's put sin to death." And that's the journey that's before us. We have a daily duty to put indwelling sin to death. Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." That's dynamic, isn't it? That's a journey. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." There's a journey, a road to be traveled.
And so it's a perilous journey, and that journey in this text, is a journey of internal holiness, a journey to be like Christ. It says in verse 13, (I think the NASB has a little better,) "If you are living according to the flesh you must die, but if by the spirit you are putting to death continually the deeds of the body, you will live." Colossians 3:5 gives it in direct command form, "Put to death therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature. Sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry." So our question today, is what does it mean to put sin to death? What does that mean and how do we do it? What are the means that God has given us? What is the relationship with the indwelling spirit? How important is it? That's what's before us today, the mortification, the putting to death of sin.
The History of Mortification
Now, there is a long history in the church and in humanity of a struggle in this area. A long history of efforts that people have made to do this very thing. Perhaps you've heard about the early monks in the desert on the fourth century. After the Roman persecution had ended and it was really not possible at that point to become a martyr anymore. People who are serious about their faith began to look at monasticism, began to look at the life of John the Baptist, who lived out in the desert and who wore rough clothing and ate locusts and wild honey and had an odd kind of life. And so Antony for example, a Coptic, an Egyptian Christian, went out into the desert and began living the life of what some have called a spiritual athlete. Putting sin to death, freeing himself from all worldly temptations, so he thought. Going out into a cave apart from people and just living a holy life as far as he understood it. Problem was, he brought his enemy with him, the indwelling sin. He didn't leave it behind, and so, he had lusts and he had anxieties and he had fears and he had temptations and they just were there with him constantly.
Others followed as well. One man sat on a stile, on a pole, for decades and somebody brought him food. And he'd pull it up in a bucket and he just spent his whole time fighting sin up on top of a pole. He was trying to get away from all temptation. I think the real heroes in that story are the ones that brought him the food every day. I think that's remarkable. But this man also brought his enemy with him. It was an internal enemy, the enemy of the flesh. Sin within the heart could not escape it. Soon there came to be communities of monks, monasteries would grow up and people would try to help each other in the battle with the flesh. The problem with all that is that they may have been making progress in the one journey, weren't they? Journey of personal holiness, but where was world evangelization? It was all inward focus, it all came in. And so you may be growing in holiness but at the same time who's hearing the Gospel through you? It's supposed to be proclaimed to the ends of the earth.
Those Catholic monasteries grew up and they were a big part of Medieval Europe. Martin Luther entered one, you remember the story. And he sought to put sin to death by physical mortification. By fasting, by prayer, by sleeping on stone floors without blankets, by torturing his body. But it says in Colossians 2, that those things have little effect on fleshly or sensual desires. And then immediately goes into chapter 3 which tells you to put sin to death. And so how can it be? Romans 8 tells us that by the power of the spirit, and by the power of the spirit alone may we put sin to death." That is the message of Romans 8.
Now, I’m giving you an extended quote here from John Owen, and I think it's powerful. Look and read along with me. John Owen, a Puritan theologian from the 17th Century said this: "The vigor and power and comfort of our spiritual life depends on the mortification of the deeds of the flesh." Do you see that? The vigor, and the power, and the comfort of your spiritual life depends on your putting sin to death. If you do not put sin to death, your spiritual life will not be vigorous. It will not be powerful. It will be sick and weak and ineffective and fruitless, and so you must put sin to death. This is not an option if you're a Christian. And I think it's so important for us to realize, to whom is Paul speaking? He's speaking to those that he's already assured that there's no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus and he's calling them to war. He's calling them to put sin to death.
Owen goes on, he says, "The choicest believers, the best ones, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin. The principal efficient cause of the performance of this duty is the spirit. The holy spirit. All other ways of mortification are vain. All helps are helpless it must be done by the spirit." What do you think Owen had in mind when he said, "All other approaches are vain?" I think probably that history that I've already traced out for you, of worldly or fleshly physical efforts to put indwelling sin to death. It must be done by the Holy Spirit.
I want you as a Baptist, to see yourself on a pilgrimage. I want you to see yourself on a journey. I want you to see yourself traveling and moving through hill and vale. Traveling and making progress in your Christian life. You're a pilgrim on progress. You are not static. You didn't pray the prayer, walk the aisle, get the thing and then you're finished. You're on a journey and if you're not on the journey you're not justified. If you're not on the journey you're not a Christian. That's what it's saying here. There are two journeys in scripture, aren't there? Jesus described them in Matthew 7, "Enter through the narrow gate for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it, but small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it." Is that not a dynamic passage? You're on a journey, you're traveling somewhere, either that road is heading toward heaven or it's heading toward hell.
And so you are on a journey and it's not unopposed, is it? You have enemies on the journey. It's difficult, it's hard. What did you think it meant at the end of Romans 8 when it says, "Know in all these things, we are" what? "More than conquerors?" Is it possible to conquer without a conflict? Is it possible to be an overcomer without a war? A victor without a battle? It's impossible. And so what's laid before us is a perilous journey, a difficult journey, hard. And through Christ and through Christ alone, in all these things we're more than conquerors. Through Him who loved us, through Christ and through Christ alone we can walk a life of holiness in His presence, and that is what this text calls us to.
II. Present Condition: Realm, Indwelling, Body, Spirit
Now, as we look at how the New Testament teaches holiness, it always teaches it the same way. It's so vital that we understand that. How does Paul tell us to be holy? Well first, as always, he's telling us who we are, what is true about us, what is our present condition. And in that we look at realm and indwelling, and then we're going to learn about the body and the spirit. What realm do you live in? Now, this is review for those who've heard me preach, but basically there are two realms, aren't there? There are two kingdoms, they're not of equal power. Do not think that the Devil's kingdom and God's Kingdom are of equal power like we're in some kind of a equal struggle here, not at all. God is the creator of heaven and earth. And any time He wanted to He could pull the plug on Satan. But there are these two realms. And if you are not a Christian you are in the realm of the devil, you're in the realm of the world of the flesh. You're under the power and the control of the flesh.
And so it says in verse 9, "However, you [as a Christian] are not in the flesh." You see that? "You are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit." What does that mean you're not in the flesh? I feel like I'm still in my flesh. I haven't died yet. There's my hand, I feel it. What does it mean I'm not in the flesh? Well, it's talking about a spiritual position, a spiritual realm that you're in, a kingdom really, and you're not there anymore. Somebody say, "Praise God." We're not there anymore, we got transferred from it. We got rescued "from the dominion of darkness and brought over into the Kingdom of the Son He Loves," Colossians 1:13. You were rescued and it's all that matter in terms of the domain, the dominions, whose are you? To whom do you belong? Who possesses you? You're either Satan's or you're God's. You're either child of the devil, or you're child of God. One or the other, there's no third option. Scripture gives us no third option. You're a possession of God if you're a child of God, possession. Isn’t that beautiful?
It is written in Exodus 19:5, "Now, if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all the nations," God said to Israel, "you will be my treasured possession." Isn’t that beautiful? The treasured possession of God out of all the nations, that was Israel. The apple of His eye. Psalm 135:4, "For the Lord has chosen Jacob to be his own and Israel to be again his treasured possession." That's the way God spoke in the Old Covenant. Well it's the same language in the New Covenant, exact same language. It says here in verse 9 "And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ," what? "He does not belong to Christ." He is not Christ's, of Christ. And so you belong to Christ if you are Christian. You belong to Christ. There is always a struggle for self-esteem. Find your esteem there that you are possessed, owned by Jesus Christ.
He says in John 10:14, "I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me." Do you see the possessive? They're my sheep, I bought them with my blood. I paid the price for them and they are mine. Says later in John 10:27 and 28, "My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. No one can snatch them out of my hand." Well, this ownership is the ground of our obligation to fight sin. That's the way Paul speaks, look at verse 12, "Therefore brothers, we have an obligation" or "we are debtors," we owe something." Going to talk more about that in a minute. But we are not debtors to the sinful nature to live according to it. We don't owe the sinful nature anything. It's a matter of possession, who owns us, what realm are we in.
First Corinthians 6:19-20, it says, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you whom you have received from God?" Now listen, "You are not your own. You've been bought at a price, therefore glorify God in your body." You see the logic of the obligation? You are owned, you are bought, someone paid something for you, and so you're not your own, therefore glorify God with your body. And then it says in Romans 14:8, "If we live we live to the Lord and if we die we die to the Lord. So whether we live or die," what? "We belong to the Lord." We are His treasured possession. Non-Christians are not his treasured possession. They're not owned by Him, not in this way. Jesus said to his enemies in John 10:26 "You do not believe because you are not my sheep." And He says in John 8:44, "You belong to [or you are owned by] your Father, the devil."
So there are two realms, two kingdoms. You either are owned by or belong to your father, the devil, or you are a child of God. Possessed by Him, a treasured possession, you are Christ's sheep, you're owned by Him, bought at a price. These are the realms. And we are told in this passage of Romans that we are no longer in the flesh, we are now in the spirit. Is that not glorious good news? There's been a rescue. We are told negatively what we are not, what is not true of us. We are not in the flesh. We are not in Adam anymore. We're not under the condemnation of Adam anymore. We're not under the law. We're not controlled any longer by the sin nature. We don't have any longer that carnal or fleshly mind in which we delight in sin and delight in the sinful world that surrounds us. We're not any longer bearing fruit for death. We're not any longer unable to please God. All of those things that he just said in Romans 8:5-8. But instead, we are in the spirit. We've been rescued. We've been transferred to a whole new realm. We are in a new kingdom now. We are in Christ. We are under grace. We are controlled by the Spirit. We have our mind on the things of the Spirit. We are bearing fruit for life, and we are pleasing to God moment by moment.
And so there has been in our case, in our condition, a great rescue. You hear about these SWAT teams that are trained, specially trained to go into hostage situations, right? And they're given special equipment and special training and they know how to move in there and rescue the captive and get them out of there. Or you hear about those two missionaries in Afghanistan that so many of us were praying for. They were delivered, they were rescued by a military action. Both of those things are nothing compared to what happened to you if you're Christian, you are rescued, you are delivered from the dominion of darkness and brought over into the kingdom, the new kingdom of Christ. Jesus put it this way, in Luke 11, "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his house, his possessions are safe but when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils."
He's talking about driving Satan out. And so you were the spoils, And He is the someone that is stronger, and the devil is the strong man, and he had this armor in which he trusted. And the strong man lost to the stronger man, Jesus Christ. And so you were delivered, you were rescued from the dominion of darkness by a stronger one, by Jesus Christ.
Now let me ask you a question, is this not tremendous grounds for assurance? If you're a Christian, you're in the new kingdom, aren't you? You're in walled city, you're protected. And who is guarding that is it not Jesus Christ is he not also a strong man? Is there anyone stronger than Jesus, who can overpower him, take you back and bring you back to the devil's kingdom. Can it be done? It cannot be done. "My Father, who is greater than all is given to me and no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one." We are kept by the power of God. We're in a new kingdom and we cannot be snatched back. So that's the foundation of holiness. Understanding who you are. What kingdom do you live in, you're citizenship of a... You're a citizen of a whole new realm now. It's a whole new way of living in this new kingdom. And so He tells you who and what you are, and then he tells you what? Live like it. Live up to it since you are a child of God. That's the way He teaches holiness. And so we can know now that we're in this kingdom, can't We? We can know as we see the activity of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We are not in the flesh but we are in the spirit and as possible to know based on the indwelling spirit, the one who lives in us now. "If indeed," it says, "the Spirit of God lives in you." If the Spirit of God lives in you... Don't let that "if" bother you. Sometimes the word if can really mean since.
"If you're my son, now act like it," you might say. It doesn't mean you may or may not be my son, it means since you're my child please live up to it, that's what it's saying. So if indeed we have the spirit, we should say as Christians, since we have the spirit there's no doubts here, He dwells within us, He lives within us.
Now let's again try to understand this properly. Talk about having the spirit of Christ. Here we hear the secular way of talking about Christmas we need to catch the spirit of Christmas. What is the spirit of Christmas? I've never been able to figure it out. Is it materialism? Is it parties? What is the spirit of Christmas? Is it good cheer? We just went through it. Think about it, our minds are cleared now, we can look back on it. What was the spirit of Christmas? And you're told to catch the spirit of Christmas. Or we're all looking ahead, we don't like looking back. The catching the spirit of spring, you want to see some warm weather... There's a spirit that you catch. Is that what it means here? It's like it's an attitude, a way of thinking, a way of an outlook. We're going to catch the spirit of Christ. Kind of, have Christ attitude about things.
Is that what it's talking about here? Not at all. Actually, you were invaded by the Holy Spirit, He came, the third person of the Trinity and lived within you, and you became his temple. He dwelt within you. If you could have seen in the spiritual realm, it'd be like the, Shekinah glory coming down and entering into you. There's a person in you now, that wasn't there before. He has an intellect. He has a will. He has power. He makes plans. He has feelings. And he communicates those feelings. He has passions. He loves things, and He hates things. And He's living within you if you're a child of God. The Spirit indwells every believer, verse 9 "If anyone does not have the spirit of Christ... " What? "He does not belong to Christ." If you do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit, you are not a Christian. You're not a Christian.
Well when did the spirit come? It came the moment you believed. "Having believed you are marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit," Ephesians 1:13-14, same thing that Peter preached in Acts chapter 2, when the people heard this is Pentecost sermon they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and other apostles, brothers what shall we do? Peter replied, "Repent to be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the promises for you and your children and for all who are far off, for all of whom the Lord your God will call."
So all those who are the called, who are Christians, they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and he lives within you. Not only the Holy Spirit though, actually the scripture teaches that the whole trinity that lives within you. We have here in the text that the spirit lives within us but we also have indications in John 14:20, "On that day," Jesus said, "You will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I am in you. I am in you," Jesus said. And then Jesus said that same time in John 14:23 said, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him and we will come to Him and make our dwelling with Him." Do you understand what that saying? That the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the triune God lives within you, if you are Christian. Isn't that incredible? And not just some of the time, all the time. By the way how does it make you feel when you sin? Isn't that striking? And isn't that the ground over the call for holiness. You're indwelt now by the Holy Spirit, you're indwelt by the Father, Son and Spirit. And the spirit has come in.
Well, what should you expect from your body? Well this text covers that as well, verse 10, "And if Christ is in you, though the body on the one hand is dead because of sin. Yet the spirit on other hand is alive because of righteous." So it talks about the body here and what does it say about the body? Well, it's not very complementary, is it? Your body is dead. It's dead, not it's dying or it will die. It's dead. This is very striking and Paul meant it to be striking. Well, why is it dead? Well, it's dead according to this because of sin. Romans 6:23, "The wages of sin is death." And this is what I think it means. Your physical body is under a death sentence. And that death sentence, plays itself out everyday. Your physical body's under a death sentence. Your cells within you are dying constantly, aren't they? They're being replaced but not perfectly, that's called aging. Your cells are being replaced but little by little you change, you're decaying, you're dying. The principle of death is already in your body, you're under a death sentence. And as matter of fact if the Lord does not come back in our generation, if we are not the final generation, everyone of you who listens to me right now and I who speak, will sink into the grave. Will we not? Is that not promised? That is the outcome for our body. Our body is under a death sentence. Not the final word for the body, we'll talk more about that in a minute. But we're going to wrestle with the ground, according to the curse. And in the end, the ground is going to win. And we're going to sink into the dust because of sin. And God has not, in fact, removed the death sentence. Death is the final enemy that he will remove at the end of the worlds.
Meanwhile in this present age, we are under this physical death sentence. And we live it out everyday, this present corruption, the decay is part of our physical life. We have within, you talk about an invisible war. There's an internal war going on inside you right now. Isn't there? Viruses, bacteria, maybe even some cancer cells multiplying too fast, your immune system's keeping up, struggling right. But in the end, they will win and you will die. That is what it's saying here. The body is dead, though the body is dead because of sin, but we can go further than that. The body is also a seat of sin, isn't it? It's an avenue in which sin works or through which sin works. Your body uses or your sin uses your body to do its work. Lust entices you to evil thoughts through members of your body.
Greed entices you to want to accumulate more through members of your body. Pride entices you to want to be a king or a queen in your life through members of your body. Laziness entices you to procrastinate again through members of your body. The body is a seed or an enticing to sin. Take a minute, put your finger here in Romans 8 and look over to 1 Corinthians chapter 9, the very next book in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 9, And Paul tells us how this doctrine should make us feel about our bodies. If this is true Paul, that our body is dead because of sin, how should we think about the body? How should we think about it?" Look what he says in verse 24, "Do you not know that in a race, all the runners run but only one gets the prize. Run in such way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the game goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." Verse 26, "Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly. I do not fight like a man beating the air." Now look at verse 27, so vital, look at with your eyes. "No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I preach to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." Now, what does Paul mean there? I think he means that he keeps his body under constant vigilance. He's on it all the time. It's really a dangerous thing to him to get the sense that his body is dangerous to his Christian life.
Go back to Romans 8. He beats his body and makes it a slave because it is a dangerous thing to him in his spiritual endeavor. He doesn't trust it. He's got to fight its inclinations. He's got a fight it's whining and complaining, right? You know what I'm talking about. When you try to get up early and have a prayer time. It's whining and it's complaining, "What do I have to do this for?" Your body is fighting against the very thing that the spirit's doing in you.
Yet he paused to fight against the body's oppositions. It's rebellions and its desires every step of the way. It's like you're in charge of a rebellious prisoner and you need to take that prisoner 50 miles down the road to some other place. What's that journey going to be like? You've got to watch it every step of the way, and it's going to be difficult. That's what the body is like and ultimately there's future corruption in the grave. John Paton, I've told the story before, was a missionary determined to go to the Pacific Hebrides Islands as a missionary to preach the gospel to a tribe that had just finished eating as a cannibal, the last missionary that went there.
How would you like to be the next missionary that goes? But John Paton felt the call of God and he wanted to take the gospel that second journey we've talked about, to the ends of the earth and that was the middle of the South Pacific. Well, one of his aged friends godly man dear old Christian man tried to dissuade him and said, "The cannibals! You'll be eaten by cannibals!" and John Paton said so beautifully, "Mr. Dixon, you are I perceive advanced in years now and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave and there to be eaten by worms. I confess to you that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus. It will make no difference to me whether I'm eaten by cannibals or by worms. And in the great day, my resurrection body will arise as fair as yours in the lightness of our Redeemer."
Is that not a great answer? Why preserve the body, why try to be young, why buy those special products they advertise late at night or whenever, why do that? You're going to sink into the grave. So that's the future of the body. Where is the present in the body? It's not all bleak is it because the body is also the vehicle of our service to God in this world isn't it? Is it not this mouth that's speaking these words now. Is it not your ears that are hearing the words. Your mind that's thinking about it. Are they not your hands and your feet that will do your service to God this week. Your body is not all evil. It's just weak it's a ground of sin. It's a difficult thing, but it needs to be brought under control and used for the glory of God. The body, that's what to expect with the body.
What about the spirit? It says in verse 10 "If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin yet the spirit is lie, life or alive because of righteousness." It's difficult to interpret this. I think it's either that the Holy Spirit is life because of righteousness, or your spirit is life because of righteousness. I don't think that the the word spirit should be capitalized here. I think it's referring to your spirit. I may be wrong on that it's possible but looked down on verse 16. It says, "The Spirit himself testifies with... " What? "Our spirit, that we are children of God." So at least somewhere in this passage, Paul is thinking about something called our spirit. So we've got our spirit and we've got the Holy Spirit. What I think happens is the moment you come to faith in Christ, you're a new creation. You have a new soul, a new spirit a new spiritual existence within you. And it will never die ever. It is alive. And why? Because of righteousness. Whose righteousness? Not yours. The righteousness of Jesus Christ given to you.
It had a beginning but it will have no end and it will survive death. It'll survive your last days in the hospital. It'll survive your funeral. It'll survive judgment day even. It'll go right on into glory. Amen! Hallelujah! The new spirit put in you will never die. It's life because of the righteousness, the gift of righteousness through Jesus Christ. And so it says in 2 Corinthians 4:16, "Therefore we do not lose heart." We don't get discouraged even though we age. Even though we lose capabilities. Even though we may even lose members of our body. Even though corruption is all around us and within us too. We are not getting discouraged. We do not lose heart. We knew it would happen. Though outwardly we are wasting away yet inwardly in the spirit we are being renewed day by day isn't that beautiful. We have this treasure in jars of clay. Don't beautify the jar of clay. I'm not saying, don't comb your hair. And put on nice clothes On Sunday do that, but I'm saying don't trouble yourself about the body too much. Keep it under control. Use it to serve God but realize that your future lies elsewhere. And there is a future. God has a future promise for your body.
Look at verse 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." Those death filled bodies… He is going to give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who indwells you. God has not forgotten your body. He's not left it out of the picture. He created your body. He created the physical world and he has a future plan for it. It's called resurrection. And nobody but Jesus has this resurrection body right now. It's yet future but it's coming and it's promised to us we'll talk about it more later in this chapter not now. But it's here in this verse and without question as promised look at verse 23, "Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption of sons, to the redemption of our bodies." So you're going to be groaning inwardly, but you're going to be waiting eagerly with hope for your resurrection body and it's going to come.
III. Living Up to Your New Identity... Or Else!!
Well so then what look at verse 12 we're going to live up to our new identity so then as a result of all this doctrine all that's teaching we are under obligation. We're debtors , we owe something. There's an ought or I should do to this Christian life, isn't there? We owe Christ everything. We must live up to our obligations. Now I want to make it caution here. This is not, you should never think that you're mortifying or putting sin to death is somehow paying Jesus back for the blood he shed for You. You can never pay that back and you should not think of yourself paying him back. Your good deeds none of them should be thought of as paying Jesus back for what he did. You can't. You never will, just accepted by grace, it's a gift. But the obligation is different, it's a sense of ought, a sense of ownership. He is your lord, you should obey him. There's a warning here isn't there?
It says, if you live according to the flesh you must die, but if by the spirit you are in the business of putting sin to death, you will live. You have no obligation to the flesh, none, you owe it nothing. Isn't that beautiful? You owe sin nothing. You owe the devil nothing. He has no authority over you so you can say to sin, no I'm dead to that sin. Sin shall not be your master because you're not under law but under grace, Romans 6. Now we have the power of the spirit to say no. It is the spirit that stands behind our saying no to temptation. We owe the flesh nothing, but we owe Christ everything. And so, therefore, he comes to us as a commander and he commands that we should put sin to death by the spirit. Now the command is just implicit here, it's explicit in Colossians 3:5; "Put to death therefore whatever belongs to your earthly nature." And how do we do it? We do it by the power of the spirit. Daily life in step with the Spirit. The Spirit leads, you follow. The Spirit prompts, you respond. The Spirit commands and you'll obey.
Moment by moment by moment you put sin to death. That's how it happens. We could and should spend hours on this. I actually believe that this is a fitting topic for Sunday evenings in depth, how to put sin to death. I'm being led now and probably that's what I'm going to do. We need to follow the Spirit's lead, we need to feel the Spirit's passions. When the Spirit is rejoicing in us, we need to rejoice too. When the Spirit is grieved with us, we need to grieve, mourn and wail and change our laughter to mourning and our joy to gloom and repent. We need to keep in step with the Spirit as he leads us to holiness. We need to go to war, brothers and sisters. When sin leaves you alone, then you can leave sin alone. Recently some friends gave us some betta fish. Have you ever heard of the betta fish? Beta fish are beautiful fish that have the proclivity of hating each other and fighting each other to the death until there's only one left. And so this was an unusual little tank that had these compartments and they're beautiful and they swim around but they can't get at each other so they survive and they go on. There's a barrier between the two. Well, that's a good paradigm of the flesh, the sin nature and the Holy Spirit.
They will never be friends. You can't sin and say "now Holy Spirit, let's sit down and see if you can work this out. Let's see if there can be some kind of reconciliation here between the two of you. You seem to have a difference, you seem to hate each other. Is there something that can be worked out?" No, there is nothing that can be worked out. They will be at war until it's over. Owen put it this way, in terms of walking down the street. You walk down the street or path and you see a viper and the viper sees you. Then you begin to engage the viper with a stick. You begin to see this is a strong viper and very quick, quicker than you thought, they can move. "Say listen, I'm actually sorry that I talked to you, I'm sorry I interacted with you, I would like to you leave you alone now. I would like to walk the other way and you go your way and we will just part." Is that going to happen? No. If you turn your back and start walking, you will die. You must kill that snake or it will kill you and so it is with sin. And the Holy Spirit convinces you that what I'm saying is true. You can have no separate peace with sin. There can be no white flag, no surrender. You have to go to war. The Holy Spirit has come to give you the power. Be strong then in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God and take your stand and fight, there's no other way. John Bunyan pointed out there's no armor for the back side by the way. No armor for the retreating coward, just for standing firm and fighting sin.
Now what is our application? Simply first, understand your position. We've talked about it, who are you? Are you in the Spirit or are you in the flesh? If you're in the flesh, you are lost, you're under condemnation. If you're in the Spirit, you can do the things that I've been talking about today. You have the power and the authority to put sin to death. You have the indwelling Spirit. Therefore, understand not so much your power, understand the power of the Holy Spirit within you. Understand your future, your promised inheritance. You know what's beautiful? Romans 8:1 tells you the outcome of the journey. In the end you will win. In the end there will be no condemnation. In the end you will triumph and be victorious. You will be glorious, you will win in the end. So therefore, fight now. Understand these things.
I want to finish by just taking you briefly through a day led by the Spirit. Tomorrow morning, it's Monday morning. The alarm wakes at 5:30, wakes you. 5:30, maybe even 5:00 because you need a quiet time. What happens when that alarm rings an hour and a half earlier than you're used to setting it? Your flesh groans and says, "No way." But the Holy Spirit said, "Yes way, get out of bed." And so you pray and ask for help. The next thing you know you're on your feet. You go and you shower and shake the cobwebs out and whatever it takes and you go to begin your Bible study. You open up the Bible and you begin to read. Your mind is drifting and wandering, you want to just get through it, get through it, the chapter, get it done. The Holy Spirit says, dig deep, meditate, take time. Your flesh is lazy. But the Holy Spirit says meditate, chew over each phrase and so you do. And you pray, "Lord open my eyes that I might see wonderful things in your law." And so you read, and when you get done you've learned some things.
And God has spoken to you, and given you so marching orders for the day. And at that moment, your flesh wants to take that information and throw it out the door. Right? Wants you to be a hearer of the word only, and not a doer of the word. So instead you're going to say, "By the power of the Spirit, I want to do these things today. I'm asking for your help. Move in me, work in me." And so the Spirit moves, that you obey what you read. Then you get dressed, and you sit down and eat breakfast. And you have your breakfast, and there's that second donut, or maybe some third donut. And you're saying, "Hmm... Flesh wants it," Spirit says, "You've eaten enough, maybe even too much," and so there's a war, a struggle. Put sin to death. You say, "No, this is over eating, it's sin, I won't do it." Get in the car and start driving and your flesh wants to listen to the talk radio station, or secular radio, or whatever it is that your flesh wants, and the Spirit says, "Why don't you begin praying for your work day? Why don't you go in ready for your work day, that you might be able to witness for me today. Pray for your co-workers, pray for your boss, pray for yourself to work." "Ahhh... Alright, I'll pray." And so you follow the lead of the Spirit.
You get into work, you start your work day, coffee break comes around and you see a coworker and the coworker says to you, "How are you doing?" "I'm doing well, how are you?" "Well, I'm not doing too well, I'm having some problems at home." Well you know that this is a tailor-made opportunity to listen, to show some love, maybe even begin a Christian witness with this person. And the Spirit prompts you to be bold, to say something about Christ, and your flesh says, "No way am I going to do that. They're going to think I'm a Bible thumper, they're going to think I'm a religious fanatic." And so you don't share. And the coffee break ends, you go back to your office or whatever, and then the Spirit gets busy on other side, and starts to convict you, and says, "You know, you missed an opportunity there, and I'm grieved about that, and so I want you to be grieved too." And so you say, "I'm grieved, I'm sorry, and I confess that to you sin." And the Spirit assures you that the blood of Christ is sufficient to cleanse you of all sin. And you resolve at that moment that you're going to be more open to witnessing opportunities.
Well guess what? At lunch time that same person's sitting alone. Sitting alone! And the Spirit prompts you and says, "Go over and sit there." Just like he did with Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. "Go over and sit there, and talk to him." And this time you're ready, and you say, "Okay, I will." And you go sit, you listen for awhile, and then the moment comes to say something for Christ, and you do. By the Spirit. You put you own fleshly desires to death, and you say something about Jesus to that person. Invite them to church. They're interested, it's the best witnessing opportunity you've had in ages.
Well, lunch is over, you go back, about an hour later your lunch starts to hit you, the blood is all working on your food, and you get sluggish and sleepy. You know what I'm talking about? And you can't really work, and you're working on a report for your boss, it's due in two weeks, you're ahead of schedule anyway, and you're tempted to be lazy and to laze around, and the Spirit says, "Come on, whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord, not with eye service, like people are watching but do it as you're offering it up in worship to me."
And that's how your day ends. You go home, your spouse greets you and says, "Where's the orange juice, and milk, and other stuff I asked you to get?" "I'm sorry. I forgot." And there starts to be one of those communications that happens sometimes. Not with me of course, I want you to know that, that never happens with us. But it may happen in your marriage. And so, your pride starts to rise. It starts to rise, and as it rises the Spirits says, "Put sin to death, don't be prideful." And say, "I'm sorry, I forgot I'm going to go back out." And so the day ends with you setting your alarm clock, and what time do you set it for? Same time as yesterday. That's a day with the Spirit. I've skipped a lot of stuff, but that's what the Spirit's calling you to do. Keep in step with Spirit and put sin to death, and walk with him day by day.