Romans

'Be killing sin, or it will be killing you'

Each and every single Sunday when we hear God’s word together it is a moment of immense spiritual importance. That said, as I get ready to preach there are some parts of the bible that seem to stand out as of particular relevance to our church life at that time. 

The sermon on Romans 8v12-17 from a couple of Sundays ago was like that. This was partly because of the way v13 urges us to engage in a lifelong, sustained and continuous battle with our sin:

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
— Romans 8:13

Here are just three of the many reasons this verse, and the sermon on this passage, are of such importance:

1. It’s not familiar

The call of this verse is repeated elsewhere in the bible (for e.g. Colossians 3v5) but it’s not one we hear all that often these days. We are so used to either ignoring or winking at our sin, and even using God’s grace as an excuse for doing so. But the life lived by God’s grace is a life of putting sin to death.

2. It’s both realistic and hopeful

v13 assumes the presence of sin in the life of Christians - there’s no fanciful notion that we will ever be free in this present life from the need to engage in this struggle. At the same time Paul speaks in such a way as to raise our expectations of being able to achieve real progress in the battle. We are not held captive by sin anymore. We can, by God’s grace, experience change. 

3. It’s a must

This is what a Spirit-led life looks like. This is what those who are headed to glory do on their way there. And a life of unchecked sin is headed down a very different path. This is a struggle we must be engaged in. 

If you weren’t in to hear this particular sermon I’d encourage you to make the time to listen. In fact, I’d encourage each of us to listen to it again with the bible passage open in front of us. 

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The Spirit and Christ

One of the things we will inevitably keep coming back to as we make our way through Romans chapter 8 is the work of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, this is a subject that can be a cause of confusion amongst Christians. 

One of the reasons for that is because we separate the Spirit’s work in our lives from Christ’s work for us. We sometimes focus on issues of particular gifts the Spirit gives, or certain experiences we ascribe to the Holy Spirit. But the big picture of the Spirit’s work is that he is all about Christ; making Christ known, conforming us to be like Christ, putting into effect the salvation Christ has won. 

This is something we’ve seen even just in the first 11 verses of Romans 8, for example:

Jesus achieves what the law could not achieve (v3) in his death on the cross but this becomes ours through ‘the Spirit of life’ (v2). 

Christ died so that we might live a new life of obedience to God, but this new life can only be lived by walking according to the Spirit (v4)

The Spirit is the Spirit of Christ and it is impossible to belong to Christ unless the Spirit dwells in us (v9). 

Jesus rose again for our salvation but his resurrection will actually becomes something we share in and experience ourselves because of the Spirit who dwells in us (v11).

In other words, Romans 8 shows us that what Christ has achieved objectively for us in his life, death and resurrection, is applied and made real to us personally by the Spirit. 

This blog post is related to the recent sermon on Romans 8v5-11 which you can listen to again to by clicking here

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