The Power of the Resurrection

Easter Sunday Morning Bible Study

April 16, 2006


But what’s the big deal about the Resurrection?  Why is it that important?

Frankly, it’s the Resurrection that sets Christianity apart from everything else.

Jesus made some amazing claims in His lifetime.  He said some amazing things.  But He proved He was worth listening to by doing something that no one else ever has done – He rose from the dead.

The Resurrection is a part of this spiritual transaction that took place during that time we call the Passion Week.

When Jesus died on the cross, He was a sacrifice, dying in our place, paying for our sins.
But the Resurrection proves that His death was different from all others.  He not only paid for our sins, but He was able to conquer death itself.

But the Resurrection is more than just a historical event.  It’s something that ought to impact our lives today and every day.

It’s the Resurrection that gives us power.

The need for power

Do you have a cell phone?  Aren’t cell phones amazing?  Can you ever imagine life without a cell phone?  There is this amazing, invisible network that you can tap into with a cell phone – a network where you can do all sorts of things:  Communicate with people around the world, surf the internet, get updates on the Angels’ games, etc.

But your cell phone won’t work without a battery.  It won’t function like it’s designed to without a battery.  You can’t enjoy the benefits of the invisible cellular system all around you without that battery.

It’s the same in the realm of the Spirit.  We are surrounded with a world that we do not see.  It is a world filled with angels, demons, and the Spirit of God.  It is where God dwells.  And you need power to be able to live and function in that world.

The power is tied to the Resurrection of Jesus.

Rom 8:1-11 NKJV

:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

It doesn’t say that there is no condemnation for those who stop sinning.  It doesn’t say that there is no condemnation for those who do everything for God perfectly. 

Yet these are the very things that we are constantly condemned over.

It says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. What does it mean to be “in Christ Jesus”?

Being “in Christ Jesus” is something that happens to us when we’ve accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  It happens when we’ve become “born again”.

When I’m “in Jesus”, I in effect go everywhere and do everything that Jesus does, or has done.

Abraham Lincoln was walking into town one day when he was overtaken by a man in a wagon going in the same direction.  Lincoln hailed him and asked, "Will you have the goodness to take my overcoat to town for me?"
"With pleasure," responded the stranger, "but how will you get it again?" "Oh, very easily; I intend to remain in it!"

When I came to the point where I trusted God to forgive my sins, I received forgiveness for my sins and freedom from condemnation:

(John 3:16-18 NKJV)  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. {17} "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. {18} "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

This is the great need of the world.  We know something is wrong and we feel the guilt of our sins.  But God offers complete forgiveness.  He takes our sin and removes our condemnation.

:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

the law of the Spirit of life – the authority that the Holy Spirit has in my life as a Christian.

When we get a hold of what it means to be “in Christ”, we no longer are bound by the other law.

We all understand the law of gravity.  If you don’t pay attention to the law of gravity, you could get hurt.  I’ve been painfully aware of the law of gravity ever since I fell off that truck a couple of weeks ago.  Ouch!

But as pervasive as the law of gravity is, you don’t have to be limited by it.  There are ways around it.

If you find another law that is “higher” than the law of gravity, you just might fly.  The law of aerodynamics is used by an airplane to cheat the law of gravity.

When we learn how to get a hold and use the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, we will find that we no longer have to be bound by that law of sin and death.  We no longer have to obey sin.

:3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,

The Law is spiritual (Rom. 7:14), and when we are trying to obey it in the power of our own flesh, we can never accomplish God’s standards.

God sent Jesus to take on human flesh.  While He was a human, He went to a cross to die, where God heaped the sins of the world upon Him.  Jesus died, paying the price for our sins.

(Isa 53:5 NKJV)  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

Jesus’ death was enough to meet God’s standards.  It qualifies us for heaven.

:4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

When we’re walking in the Spirit, we will obey the requirements of the Law.

There are two aspects of this:

1. Jesus paid for the world’s sins by dying on a cross.  When we trust in Him, His blood is applied to our sins, and the requirement of the Law is met.
2. And now as a Christian, as I learn to let the Holy Spirit lead my life, I find that I start doing the things that God wants me to do, naturally.  I don’t have to force myself.  The Spirit does the work.

:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

set their mindsphroneo – to feel, to think; to direct one's mind to a thing, to be of one's party, side with him (in public affairs)

The word can almost give you the impressions of political parties. There are issues that the Congress votes on where all the Republicans vote one way and all the Democrats vote the other way. It seems that it’s not an issue of what you think ought to be done, but what your party says should be done.

Which side of the “aisle” are you on?  The side of the Holy Spirit, or the side of the flesh?  When the Holy Spirit votes a certain way on an issue of your life, if you are “minded” or of the same party as He is, then you’ll vote the same way to.

You can tell which “party” a person is from by how he votes.  If a person’s life is constantly voting for fleshly things, then guess what his “mind” is set on?

:6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

carnally minded – to live with the flesh being the priority in your life.

God created man as a “trinity” – body, soul, and spirit.  The person who has not opened their heart to Jesus is dead spiritually.  And the priority in their life is generally their “body”, their flesh.

Look at the advertisements on TV.  It all appeals to your flesh – and not necessarily in the sense of bad sinful things, but even just in the simple bodily needs - like feeding your stomach with the latest Ciabatta sandwich, quenching your thirst with the latest version of Gatorade, or covering your body with the latest in Spring fashions.

Jesus said,

(Mat 6:31-32 NKJV)  "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' {32} "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
Without God, a man tends to order his life after his bodily needs.
Abraham Maslow developed a theory of how man was motivated according to what he felt his needs were:

Maslow ranks human needs as follows: (1) physiological; (2) security and safety; (3) love and feelings of belonging; (4) competence, prestige, and esteem; (5) self-fulfillment; and (6) curiosity and the need to understand.

It’s the “physiological” needs, satisfying hunger, thirst, and bodily needs that are the main priority for most people.

Jesus went on to say:

(Mat 6:33-34 NKJV)  "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. {34} "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

When a person becomes “born-again”, and the Spirit comes to dwell inside them, priorities begin to get changed.  God’s ultimate desire is not that we live after our bodily needs first, but after our spiritual needs first, so that the order of importance becomes “spirit – soul – body”

One priority leads to death.  The other priority leads to life and peace.

King Solomon was looking for answers in life – and he recorded part of his journey in the book of Ecclesiastes.

He tried to satisfy himself with intellectual pursuits.  He was known for acquiring an amazing amount of knowledge. (Ecc. 1:13)
He tried to satisfy himself with wild parties, flowing wine, great entertainment.  With 1,000 wives he would have no lack of sexual fantasies. (Ecc. 2:1)
He tried to satisfy himself with material wealth.  He made huge amounts of money.  He built huge palaces. (Ecc. 2:4)
Yet with all his searching, he remained empty.
It wasn’t until he looked to the spiritual aspect of his life that he found his answers.
(Eccl 12:13 NKJV)  Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all.

:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.

enmity – There is a state of war between the flesh and God.

(Gal 5:17 NASB)  For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

nor … can bedunamai – to be able, to be capable, strong and powerful.  This is the word that we often associate with the power that the Holy Spirit gives to us (Acts 1:8)

The flesh, by itself, is unable to line itself up to obey the Law of God.  It doesn’t have the power to do it.

:8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

cannotdunamai – to be able, to be capable, strong and powerful. 

This is because in my flesh alone, there is “no good thing”.

(Rom 7:18 NKJV)  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.

You are not ever going to be able to please God by yourself.  This is why it’s totally futile for a person to think they should clean up their life before they come to church.

On the other hand, there is a way to please God.

(Heb 11:6 NKJV)  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Pleasing God starts when you come to the point where you are going to trust Him.  And this begins at learning to trust Him to save you.

The Gospel:
We have a huge need – our own sin separates us from God and is going to end up sending us to hell.
But Jesus died on a cross to pay for our sins.  He offers to forgive our sins because they’ve already been paid for.
All I need to do is to “trust”, to believe in Him.  I need to trust Him to forgive me and pay for my sins.

All the good deeds you’ve ever done were unable to please Him.  All the sin you tried to stay away from was unable to please Him.  Only when you started to trust Him was He pleased.

:9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

Paul is referring to what happens to a person when they open their heart to Jesus.  The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in their life.

If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit is in you.  You can’t be a Christian without the Holy Spirit being in you.

But the point of this passage isn’t just to have the Spirit “in” you, but for you and I to learn to “walk after” (vs. 4) and to “live after” (vs. 5) the Spirit.

There is more to the Christian life than just having the Spirit in you.

We also need to learn to yield our lives to the work of the Spirit.  We need to be filled with the Spirit.

And as a Christian, you already have a step in the right direction.  The Holy Spirit is in you, now you need to learn to yield yourself to the Holy Spirit.

Before you were a Christian, you did not have the option of living a life according to the Spirit.  You were dead spiritually.  But now that you are a Christian, you have the option of living your life after the Spirit.

:10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

The idea is that when we become a Christian, our body is in a state of spiritual death.  The body is dead.  But when the Holy Spirit comes into our life as we receive Christ, He is life.  He brings life.  He gives life.

:11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,  He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.


The power to change

God has power for your life.  He has the power for you to tap into the great spiritual world around you.  He has the power to help you change.
Ludwig Nommensen, a pioneer missionary to the Batak people of Indonesia, spent two years living with them and studying their traditions.  At the end of that time, the chief asked him if the Christian faith differed from Batak traditions.  “We, too, have laws that say we must not steal, nor take our neighbor’s wife, nor bear false witness,” the chief said.
The missionary answered, “My Master gives the power to keep His laws.”
The chief was startled.  “Can you teach my people that?”
“God can give them that power if they ask for it and listen to His word.”  So for six months Nommensen taught the Batak about the power of God.  At the end of that time the chief said, “Stay, your law is better than ours.  Ours tells us what we ought to do.  Your God says, ‘Come, I will walk with you and give you strength to do the good thing.’”
Some of us stay at the cross, some of us wait at the tomb,
Quickened and raised with Christ, yet lingering still in the gloom.
Some of us 'bide at the Passover feast with Pentecost all unknown,
The triumphs of grace in the heavenly place that our Lord has made His own.
If the Christ who died had stopped at the cross, His work had been incomplete.
If the Christ who was buried had stayed in the tomb, He had only known defeat,
But the way of the cross never stops at the cross and the way of the tomb leads on
To victorious grace in the heavenly place where the risen Lord has gone.

- Annie Johnson Flint

Do you need God’s power?
Do you need His forgiveness?
Do you need His power to help you do what’s right?
Do you need His power to keep going?
Come to the empty tomb.  Ask for His help.  And trust Him to help you.