Romans 8:9-16

Thursday Evening Bible Study

September 18, 2008


Paul has been talking about the difference between a life lived after the flesh and a life lived after the Spirit.

When Paul talks about “flesh”, he is talking about our “sin nature”, that part of us that wants to rebel against God.

Some Christians talk themselves into thinking that they no longer sin.  The problem is that they are lying to themselves.
Our “sin nature” is attached to this physical body that we live in.  As long as we live in this “fleshly” body, we will struggle with sin.

But Paul has also talked about the new life that happens when a person comes to trust in Jesus.

God puts a new nature inside us, our “spirit” gets a new life, we are “born again”.
Paul has been talking about the conflict we have inside us, the conflict between the spirit and the flesh.

:9-11 Spirit Life

:9  But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.

dwellsoikeo – to dwell in; from oikos – a house

When you become a Christian, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside of you.

What do you call a “house” where God dwells?  A temple.

(1 Cor 6:18-20 NKJV)  Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. {19} Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? {20} For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

The Spirit of God is living inside us, but I wonder just how much He’s “at home” in us?

:9 Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

Even if the Holy Spirit isn’t “comfortable” inside us, even if He’s “grieved”, He’s still inside of us.

If a person does not have the Holy Spirit inside of them, then they are not a Christian.

Note:  The Holy Spirit is called

“the Spirit of God”

“the Spirit of Christ”

That puts Christ on the same level as God.  This verse hints at the “deity of Christ”.

How do I know if I have the Spirit of God in my life?

Paul is going to give us several ideas.

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

lifedzo life

Paul doesn’t use the word for “living” (dzosa), but the word “life”.  You expect him to say, “the body is dead, but the spirit is living” (as translates all the modern translations).  I think this is one of those times when the King James is actually a better translation here.  Paul is talking about the Holy Spirit (capital “S”), not the human spirit.

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.

And so the struggle starts, the dual nature.

Your body experiences death because of sin.
But there’s this new nature, the “Spirit”, living inside of you.

:11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,

This is talking about the Holy Spirit of God.  God the Father raised Jesus from the dead.  The Holy Spirit is dwelling in us.

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

give lifezoopoieo (“life” + “to make”) – to produce alive, begat or bear living young; to cause to live, make alive, give life

mortalthnetos – liable to death, mortal

He’s talking about the bodies that are “dead” because of sin.  This is just another word for “death”.

The resurrection gives us the power to live for Christ in these bodies that are so prone to sin.

The power comes through the Holy Spirit.


Transforming Life

Not only is the Holy Spirit in us life, but He takes these dying bodies of ours and gives them life as well. 
It’s not that the Holy Spirit comes as a little light to dwell in this dark, dead cave of a person, just a little light in a dark cave.  But when He comes into our lives, He begins to transform the dying cave and new life begins to spring up.  He brings a new life.
Keep in mind the kind of power that’s involved here.  It’s the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.
(Eph 3:20 NKJV)  Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,
If I take an ordinary gardening glove and ask it to play the piano, it’s not going to be able to do what I ask.  But if I put the hand of a piano player inside the glove, it will be quite amazing.  The glove will play the piano.  Well, not exactly.  It’s really the hand inside the glove that plays.  As you can tell, the hand doesn’t do as good when it’s inside the glove, but it’s way better than when the glove tries to play by itself.
That’s how we as sinners can find ourselves doing what God wants in our lives.
We let Him “fill” us.  We let His hand fill the inside of us, the glove.

:12-17 Spirit of Adoption

:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors; not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

debtorsopheiletes – one who owes another, a debtor; one held by some obligation, bound by some duty

We don’t owe the flesh anything. The flesh may want to cry out as we are starving it, “But haven’t I been good to you?  Haven’t I taken care of you all these years?  Can’t you just feed me this once?”  But the truth is, we don’t owe our flesh anything!  It’s given us nothing but pain and death.

Paul doesn’t quite finish the thought, but the implication is that we aren’t debtors to the flesh, we are debtors to the Holy Spirit.

:13 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.

you will die you will (die)mello – to be about; to be on the point of doing or suffering something; to intend, have in mind, think to

dieapothnesko – to die (very similar word to “mortal” in verse 11)

The result of living after the flesh is death.

I don’t think it’s just limited to hell here, though hell certainly is in mind.  I think the death we experience from living after the flesh starts right at the time we are sinning.  We are cutting ourselves off from the source of life.  We are separating ourselves from God.

(Isa 59:1-2 NKJV)  Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. {2} But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.

put to deaththanatoo – to put to death; by death to be liberated from the bond of anything, literally to be made dead in relation to (something)

by the Spirit

Back in Romans 6, Paul talked about this concept of dying with Christ and the effect on sin in our lives:

(Rom 6:11 NKJV)  Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Now Paul tells us how we are to do this.

By the Spirit.  It’s an “instrumental” case, meaning that this is the way it gets done, the Holy Spirit is the “instrument” that is used to help us learn to “put to death” the deeds of the body.

you will livezao – to live, breathe, be among the living (not lifeless, not dead); to enjoy real life; metaph. to be in full vigor; to be fresh, strong, efficient

We like to use the term “live it up”.

It might be a “party”.  It might be drinking. It might be gambling.
The problem is that often the things we’re thinking about that qualify as “living it up” are things that actually result in spiritual death.

The truth is that learning to really “live it up” involves putting some of the old things “to death”.


Victory over the flesh

Paul is giving us a clue as to how we put to death these things of our flesh.
In 1Samuel 5 the Philistines have captured the Ark of the Covenant in battle and have decided to take it to the temple of their god Dagon – half man and half fish.  In the morning they find that Dagon has fallen over.  They prop up their “god”.  The next morning Dagon has fallen over again and this time has split into pieces.  They decide they don’t like this “Ark” thing and end up shipping it back to the Israelites.
The point?

Sometimes we try so hard to deal with the “Dagons” in our lives.  We try so hard to topple Dagon.

Maybe we ought to consider bringing in the Ark – a picture of God’s throne, a picture of God’s presence – allowing God’s presence to rule in our lives.

Learning to “yield” to God.  Learning to let Him rule our lives.

:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

ledago – to lead, take with one; passive, God’s Spirit does the leading, we do the following.

If you were new to our church and I ask if you want me to give you a tour of the building, I’ll ask you to follow me around the building.  But if you just stay in the front office and don’t follow, then I’m not leading.


Spirit Leading

The Spirit not only gives victory, but also helps direct us.
One of the ways He directs us is through the desires of a Spirit-filled heart.
(Psa 37:4 NKJV)  Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

If your heart is simply delighting in God, you will find God planting new desires in your heart.

You don’t have to force yourself to do these things – they will be things you will want to do.

One of the ways the Spirit will lead you is through God’s Word.
(Psa 119:105 NKJV)  Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
(John 14:26 NKJV)  "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

:15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear,

bondagedouleia – slavery, bondage, the condition of a slave

There is a sense in which we are the “servants” of God.

But the point here is to give you a boundary to what it means to be a servant.

fearphobos – fear, dread, terror

We don’t serve God because of fear.  We serve God because of love.

(1 John 4:18 NKJV)  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

I think that because of context, Paul is talking about bondage to sin and bondage to the law.

(Rom 6:16 NKJV)  Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

When Paul gave his illustration of a woman being freed from her husband through death, it had to do with bondage to the Law (Rom. 7:1-4)

Though there is a sense in which we are now slaves of Christ, there is also a sense in which we are now freed from our old slavery and we are now His friends:

(John 15:15 NKJV)  "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Is your spiritual walk characterized by a sense of woe, heaviness, bondage, and obligation?  Is there this deep sense of foreboding that hangs on you?

This is not the Holy Spirit.

:15  but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."

adoptionhuiothesia (“son” + “to place”) – adoption, adoption as sons

cry outkrazo – to croak; of the cry of a raven; hence, to cry out, cry aloud, vociferate

AbbaAbba – “father”; an Aramaic word.  It’s found three times in the New Testament, and always accompanied with the Greek word for “father” (pater) for explanation.

It’s thought to be a word that expressing loving affection towards a father, kind of like saying “Dad”, “Daddy”, or “Papa”.

Jesus used this word when He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane:

(Mark 14:36 NKJV)  And He said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will."

In the book of Galatians, Paul is also talking about our “adoption” as sons:

(Gal 4:6 NKJV)  And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!"
Notice how it is the Spirit that does this work in us to call God our “papa”.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray by addressing their prayers to God the Father:

(Mat 6:9 NKJV)  "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.


Intimacy with Papa

There was a time in our world during both the First and second World Wars, when men and women who served their country would go off and many times would be gone four or five years before they ever came home. We're told that a good Marine serving his country went off to fight. When he left, his wife was expecting a child. That child was born, and that child was a beautiful little girl.
Because this was a special home, the mother would never let the little girl forget her father.  Every day she talked of the girl's father and showed her pictures of her father. She talked about the father's love and care for her, and about how someday her father would come home.
When the little girl was 4 years old, she was playing in the front yard. A man came to the gate. She looked up. She looked into his eyes with love, and he looked into her eyes with love. Then she said, "Daddy, you're for real. Daddy, you are for real!"

-- Richard H. Flick, "Memorial Service for Heather Gillan," Preaching Today, Tape No. 71.

For some of you, the Father seems like a distant person.  But I want to keep reminding you that He is very real, He’s very loving, and He’s your Heavenly Father. Don’t pull back from Him.  Don’t be afraid.  The Holy Spirit works in our lives in such a way to draw us closer and closer to our Father.  There is a sense in which we want to cry “Daddy” more and more.
It is hard for some people to address God as the “Father” because of their own difficulties with their own fathers.
I’ve talked with gals who were abused by the fathers, they think a “father” is someone who will hurt them.
In the book “The Shack”, author Paul Young writes about a man named “Mack” who spends a weekend with God, all three persons of the Trinity.  In this fictional book, Mack is surprised when he first meets “Papa” face to face, and finds that “Papa” looks like a large African American woman who likes to cook.  Why did the author do this?  Because God is concerned about getting past our broken ideas about what a “father” is about.  The character of Mack had experienced abuse with his own father, and so until Mack starts opening up to God’s kindness and goodness, God works around Mack’s own brokenness by appearing to Mack in a form that he’s not afraid of.
By the end of the book, Mack has learned much about who God is, and “Papa” no longer looks like a large black woman.  In fact he looks more like a loving grandpa dressed in flannel.
Be careful that you don’t put your own dad’s face on God.  He is not like your dad.

:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

bears witness withsummartureo (“with” + “to witness”) – to bear witness with, bear joint witness

There are two things that should be telling us that we are God’s children.

1.  The Holy Spirit.

2.  Our spirit.


Holy Spirit Assurance

How does the Holy Spirit show us that we are the children of God?
1.  Transforming Life (vs. 11)
We find we are able to do things we didn’t used to be able to do.

The hand in the glove.

2.  Victory over the flesh (vs. 13)
We are able to put to death the deeds of the flesh.

Dagon falls on his face.

3.  Spirit Leading (vs. 14)
We find direction in our life as we learn to delight in God.
4.  Intimacy with Papa (vs. 15)
We grow to know God as our “papa”
What if I don’t see these things in my life?
Go back to the basics.

(1 John 5:10-13 NKJV)  He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. {11} And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. {12} He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. {13} These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.