Romans Chapter 8
First Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
The 8th chapter of Paulís letter to the Romans is such a deep and rich chapter that I never thought Iíd finish it in a week, but surprisingly enough, I actually finished it yesterday! So, today, what weíll do is review the chapter and recall some of the points made. As always, if youíve missed any of these messages, you can call 1st Baptist Church of Des Moines at 575.278.2421 and Iíll send you a free CD with all of this weekís messages. You can also visit our website at www.fbcdesmoines.org.
Letís review Romans chapter 8Ö this part of Paulís letter starts off with these very, very important statements:
Romans 8:1-4 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. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (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, (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.
This is the gospel message in a nutshell. There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ and who walk according to the Spirit, not the flesh. Paul hints at the so-called double imputation which is a point so often misunderstood by non-believers and even by many who call themselves Christians. That point is that Christians are not in and of themselves perfect, righteous, or holy. So, often I hear people say that they go to church so that they can be better people. Or I see non-believers pointing fingers at Christians, looking at their flaws, and saying "See! Theyíre no better than me! Maybe even worse!" Both of these miss the point of the gospel message. That point is, as Paul says here "He condemned sin in the flesh 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."
Moving backwards through this phrase, we see that "Öwhat the law could not do in that is was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin." There we see that the Bible clearly states that you cannot be perfect, holy, or righteous on your own. Paul calls the flesh "weak." Christians are weak- they stumble, they fall short, and you non-believers are absolutely right in that they are not any better than yourselves. But what Christians have done is acknowledged their failings and placed their trust in the imputed righteousness of Jesus. That is, theyíve accepted the fact that His sacrifice was done on my behalf and as such, His righteousness laid to our account and our sins laid to His account. This doesnít make me righteous, nor does it make Christ unholy. It is a trading of debts for payment. Thatís what Paulís statement "the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." As a result of this, Paul can start off his section with "there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." And that is the gospel message.
If this bothers you and you wonder whether or not you are in Christ, Paul has the answer. He says:
Romans 8:5 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.
Hereís the test. Where is your mind? Is your mind set on the things of God, or on the things of the flesh? Who is your master? God, or money? In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew, Jesus says:
Matthew 6:31-33 "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. (33) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Set your mind first on the things of God and then everything else will fall into place. When you face difficulties, ask yourself "am I seeking the kingdom of God, or has this come upon me because Iím seeking money first?" Sometimes, troubles come upon us because of persecution- Job is an example of this, and Jesus, John, Paul, and James are all clear that troubles will come to Christians. But, itís also true that if your mind is set upon the things of God first, Heíll let you know. As Paul says later in Romans 8:
Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Psalm 37 addresses this issue, too:
Psalms 37:3-9 Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. (4) Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. (5) Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. (6) He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. (7) Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. (8) Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret- it only causes harm. (9) For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth.
The message is clear: Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Iím skipping some here, but next in Romans 8 is the section discussing the groaning of the creation:
Romans 8:19-22 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. (20) For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; (21) because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (22) For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
This is an interesting section for me because it explains why the earth is having the troubles that is. We have droughts, floods, global warming, cold spells, too much of this, too little of that, and so on. Why canít things just be stable and steady? According to Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, "the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruptionÖ" Since the creation will be delivered from it, this tells us that the creation currently is, indeed, in bondage to corruption.
God didnít create it that way, either.
Genesis 1:31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
Unfortunately, by chapter 3 of Genesis, man has disobeyed God, introduced sin into the world, and the Fall has begun. The earth is included in the curse laid upon man, as we can see from:
Genesis 3:17-19 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it': "Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. (18) Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. (19) In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return."
When this curse is lifted, everything will be restored to perfection and this is the hope that Paul is referring to in Romans 8:20 when he says:
Romans 8:19-21 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. (20) For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; (21) because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
As Iíve said throughout this study, the Christian life is all about hope. Itís not about getting bogged down in today, but itís about living for tomorrow. For this reason, Christians should be concerned about our planet and our environmental woes, but we should also recognize that weíll have problems until the curse is lifted. Trying to make the planet better ourselves is much like trying to make ourselves better people- itís a admirable desire, but it will not happen apart from Godís will in the matter. We should have hope, though, that it will be accomplished, since God has promised it to us in Johnís vision of Revelation:
Revelation 21:1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.
Revelation 22:3 And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.
Chapter 8 ends with Paulís great declaration of hope. After identifying Christians with the passage:
Romans 8:29-30 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Paul brings up this tremendous statement:
Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Truly, if God Almighty, creator of everything that is, is for us, then who can be against us?
Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, (39) nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Christianity is not about going to church, not about becoming a better person, not about casting out demons or doing many miraculous signs. Those things are indeed done, but in order to please God, the must be done as a result of the Spirit living in us, not to produce a self-righteousness of our own. Christianity is about removal of the curse, itís about restoration of peace with God, and itís above all about hope.
Who would not want those things? Who would not want hope and who would not want God on their side? Yet, there are unbelievers in the world. There are many who will not turn to Christ for the source of their hope. Most people, in fact, trust in themselves rather than in Christ and most people seek money before they seek God. Jesus said:
Matthew 7:13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.
Having heard this, do you have ears to hear? Do you seek God and His righteousness? Remember Paulís words: "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.." Enter by the narrow gate that is Jesus Christ and have hope.
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