If in Fact

Tuesday, August 22, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 8:1-17 (ESV).

Flesh and Spirit (vv. 1-8)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 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 set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered as we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, cast out demons, fed the hungry, comforted the sorrowful, and preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He confronted sin in sinful humans, called for repentance and faith in himself, warned of judgment and the consequences of sin, and promised hope, healing and eternal life for all who would follow (obey) him.

Yet, although some people did follow him, many hated him, especially the religious leaders within the Jewish temple. They hated him because he confronted them with their sins, he exposed their hypocrisies, he didn’t follow their rules (traditions and ceremonies), and because he claimed to be God, which is who he is. So, they plotted his death, and they had him hung on a cross to die. But, it was God’s will even before the creation of the world that Jesus would be our sacrificial Lamb to take away the sins of the world in his death, and in his resurrection. For, when he died our sins died with him, and were buried with him, and then he rose from the dead triumphant over sin, hell, Satan and death – all on our behalf so that we might be saved.

Jesus’ purpose in dying and in being resurrected back to life, though, was not just so we would not be condemned to hell, and just so we could go to heaven when we leave this earth. He died in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk (in lifestyle) not after the flesh (in sin) but according to the Spirit. The law demands death for sin, but Jesus came to give us new life in him. So, for us to be “in Christ Jesus” and to not be condemned, we must walk (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit and not according to our sinful flesh. Yet, this is not something we do to earn our salvation, but this is the result of our salvation, that we should now walk in Christ’s righteousness and no longer to please our sinful desires. All this is done in the power of God’s Holy Spirit within us.

For, if we continue to set our minds on what our flesh desires, and to live (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, the end result is eternal separation from God in the fires of hell, not eternal life in heaven with God. In other words, we are not free from condemnation just because we said some magic words, or just because we made some public declaration of faith in Christ. True faith is evidenced in our lives by how we live. If our minds and our actions are set on what our flesh desires, then our minds are hostile toward God, not in union with him, because we do not submit to his law, nor can we do so. For, if we live according to the flesh, we cannot please God.

If the Spirit (vv. 9-11)

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 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 through his Spirit who dwells in you.

In this passage of scripture, the word “if” is mentioned at least 3 times… if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you… if Christ is in you… if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you. It is not assumed, in other words, that everyone who professes Christ as Savior or who gathers together with the body of Christ is, in fact, truly in Christ Jesus by faith in him. So, this passage of scripture is intended, at least partially, to show us what it means to be “in Christ Jesus” so that we don’t end up thinking we are saved from our sins when we are not, but in order that we might truly know that we are saved and bound for heaven. If we want assurance that we are saved from our sins, then we need to know what it means to be in Christ Jesus, and then to live it in the power of the Spirit within us.

So, IF in fact the Spirit of God does dwell in us through faith in Jesus Christ, it should result in us no longer being, living, walking or thinking according to the flesh (in lifestyle). This does not mean we will not ever battle the flesh in our minds, for we will still face temptation to sin, and we are still in flesh bodies, but what this means is that we will no longer be controlled by the flesh. It will not define who we are or how we live, but we will live and think and be what the Spirit of God desires for our lives. If we are in Christ Jesus by faith in him, our bodies should be dead to sin, and alive to righteousness, not the other way around.

We are Debtors (vv. 12-17)

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 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. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

I hear so many people these days say that God requires nothing of us at all other than some nondescript “faith” in him, but which does not surrender to him, does not submit to his law, and which does not repent of sin. This is just not scriptural! We are debtors, but not to the flesh, to live according to it, but we are debtors to God, for Jesus bought us back for God with his shed blood. We are no longer our own, because we were bought with the price of his blood, but we are now the Lord’s, and he is our owner-master, and we are his bondservants, to do his bidding. God demands obedience, surrender, submission and repentance (turning away from sin to follow Him). For, if we live according to the flesh, we will die in our sins. Yet, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity.

Now, it is true that when we believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of our lives, and the Spirit of God comes to live within us, that we become children of God and fellow heirs with Christ, yet PROVIDED we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Jesus said that if any of us would come after him, we must deny self, take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life. He also said that unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood, i.e. unless we are crucified with him in death to sin so that we might live with him to righteousness, we have no hope of eternal life with God (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Jn. 6:35-66).

And, while it is true that, through genuine faith in Christ Jesus, we become children of God, and he becomes our Daddy, this does not negate that Jesus is our Lord (owner-master), and that we are his bondservants. When we were children, and we lived with our human fathers, we did what they said or we paid the consequences. We were subject to our fathers, in submission to their will for our lives, and we were under their authority and obligated to obey them. If we had loving fathers, who nurtured, protected, trained, and disciplined us, for our good, then we should be able to relate to the father-child relationship we now have with God. If we did not, though, it is more difficult to relate, but not impossible. We can see God in terms of the father we never had, but not as a permissive father who lets us do whatever we want, but as a gracious dad, and compassionate, who will discipline us for our good, but who also holds us close in his arms and comforts us with his love. And, because of this, we ought to walk in his love.

My Jesus, I Love Thee
William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
For thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

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