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The Indispensable Ministry of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:5-11)
The Work and Ministry of the Holy Spirit
The Indispensable Ministry of the Holy Spirit
Romans 8:5-11
 
I've been anxious for us to return to our study fo the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit from Romans 8.  We've studied just enough so far to sort of whet our appetite for more, and that in just the first four or five verses! 
 
And yet, already we've discovered the Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to live in a no-condemnation status before God and not only escape the consequences of violating the law of God, but actually be able to do what it requires of us.
 
So I can hardly wait to see what else is waiting for us in the remaining 35 or so verses before us.  Tonight we'll explore what we find in
 
verses 5-11 
 
As I've said, this eighth chapter is all about the Holy Spirit.  The first thing that we looked at, and it’s right there in verses 2 and 3, is He gives us life out of death.  The Biblical word for that is
 
1.  Regeneration.
 
He makes us alive.  The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.  The word “law” is used here in reference to a principle or power. 
 
We lived in a kind of living death.  We were under the dominating principle of sin and of death and then came the Spirit of life, and set us free from the law of sin and death.  That is the first work of the Holy Spirit.  That is the work of regeneration. We are  born again, given life from the dead.  And it is the work of the Spirit of God. 
 
Secondly, because of this life, He enables us to fulfill God’s law.  The word we use to describe that process is
 
2.  Sanctification
 
verse 4
 
When you get saved, for the first time in your life you are able to fulfill the requirements of the law of God – not perfectly, but to some degree.  So how can that be?  What makes it possible for us fulfill the law of God? 
 
Verse 4 says it is because, “We do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”  That is what it means to be a Christian.   And remember, that is a fact.  Those who are saved will walk according to the Spirit.
 
There’s no such thing as saying, “I’m a Christian, I have been given life from death by the power of the Holy Spirit, but I have no interest in fulfilling the law of God.”  I have no interest in going to church to reading God's Word.  That's not possible. 
 
We have been delivered from death into life so that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.   
We have experienced a real resurrection, spiritually speaking and we now walk, and he's talking about practical, daily life, we walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
 
That means our daily conduct is consistent with the Spirit who is the power, the energy, the force at work in us. 
 
That power, which is nothing other than the Holy Spirit Himself, literally interrupted our condition of spiritual death and brought life, and now that same power, that same overwhelming, controlling, dominating power of the Holy Spirit drives you in the direction of obedience to the law of God.  Your nature is changed.  Your mind is changed.  Your will is changed.  Your affections are changed.  This is a total transformation.
 
Some people walk in the flesh and that’s their behavior because they mind the things of the flesh.  That’s their thinking, and they are therefore dead.  That is their spiritual condition. 
 
Others walk in the Spirit and that’s their behavior.  They mind the things of the Spirit.  That's how they think and act.  And notice, they enjoy life and peace. 
 
So that's the flow of Paul’s thought.  Everyone is born dead in trespasses and sins.  Those who don't know Christ, who do not walk according to the Spirit demonstrate they don't know Christ by the way they live. 
 
 
 
Others are described as being in Christ, and as such, they walk according to the Spirit within in.  And again, true to form, they demonstrate they are in Christ by the way they live also.    
 
So the critical component that makes the difference is the Spirit and the ability to fulfill God’s law comes from the regenerating power and the sanctifying work that He performs. 
 
All of a sudden, this person who was formerly dead in trespasses and sins, who walked according to the flesh, who hated and ignored the things of God, has a love and hunger for the Scripture, they want to know God.  There is a desire to be with God's people and live in obedience to His commands.  It is this amazing process of regeneration, followed by sanctification that is enabled by the Spirit of God.  
 
So the basic axiom is simple.  There are two kinds of people, those that are after the flesh, that mind the things of the flesh and they're dead.  Therefore, they can’t fulfill the law of God or please God because they have no power or capacity to do that. 
 
By the way, the Biblical word for that condition is depravity.  The unsaved person, is habitually controlled by his unregenerate and depraved humanness, hates God, and hates the things of God.  And to one degree or another, he will manifest that hate.  in may be as simple as staying home on Sunday morning while his wife goes to worship or as extreme as being a suicidal, serial killer.  But either one is an expression of the heart that hates the things of God.
 
And just to drive home that point, notice what we read in
 
verse 5
 
The Greek word translated "minds" there is a word that describes the bent of a person's heart.  More than the mind, it is a combination of the will and emotions that drives a person.  It is the disposition of a person's life.  Maybe the best way to translate the word is the deliberate, intentional mindset.
 
The unsaved person is dominated by a deliberate, intentional mindset controlled by the flesh.  So what is the flesh that drives this mindset?  It’s not just his physical body.  It’s not just that which you can touch and see.  It is his fallen humanness.  And the problem is, you can’t fix it.  The flesh is this controlling, internal force of falleness that drives a person to sin and corruption. 
 
The New Testament talks a lot about the flesh.  It talks about the affections of the flesh, putting no confidence in the flesh, the deeds of the flesh, the desires of the flesh, the religion of the flesh, the prayers of the flesh, the worship according to the flesh, the god of the flesh, the corruption of the flesh. 
 
And all those references are talking about our fallen condition without God.  It’s those people who John says love the world, the things that are in the world, and the love of the Father is not in them.  And everybody unredeemed is like that.  And Paul's point here in Romans is that they can’t fulfill the law of God.  They go on violating the law of God and the penalty or the wages for that is death.
On the other hand, there’s another pathology mentioned here in verse 5 also, and that is "those who are according to the Spirit."   And here we find a different mind, a different intentional, deliberate mindset and this one minds "the things of the Spirit". 
 
Verse 6 tells us this mind set on the Spirit is "life and peace".  So it is a completely different lifestyle and attitude. No longer are we hostile to God.  We love the law of God, so much so that we can live in a way that pleases God.
 
By the way, notice
 
 verse 8
 
There is an implied truth in that verse.  If those who are in the flesh cannot please God, then the implication is that that are in the Spirit can please God, right?     
 
So that raises a question:  If walking in the Spirit can please God, then how much can we please God?  Well, let's explore that. Think about old Enoch.  Enoch was a man like us.  He had the same physical makeup, lived in an environment that was hostile to God, had his own challenges and limitations and shortcomings. 
 
So how much did Enoch please God?  Enough that one day he took a walk with God and together they just walked right into heaven. 
 
By the way, Enoch walked with God for 365 years. I know folks that can't make it from one Sunday to the next!  Oh, it’s just so hard to be a Christian and live the Christian life and be faithful and keep serving.  Not when you walk according to the Spirit!  So what does it mean to walk with God?  It simply means to please God.  It means to be obedient to what we know God desires.  It meant to commune with God and spend time with God. 
 
And the Holy Spirit makes all of that possible.  All of a sudden for us there’s a new bent, there’s a new disposition, there’s a new direction, there’s a new controlling influence in our lives, and it’s the power of the Holy Spirit that makes it available. 
 
The very author of the Scripture that we are to obey lives in us and not only lives in us to instruct us but lives in us to empower us to obey that instruction so that we live according to the Spirit, as verse 5 says. 
 
We have a new controlling power.  We no longer are under the power of the flesh, which is death, but we are, as verse 6 says, spiritually minded.  We have a mind, an intentional, deliberate mindset regarding the things of the Spirit. 
 
Therefore, we live in a world of life and peace. We are alive to God and at peace with God.  We are literally driven by this amazing power of the Holy Spirit toward that which honors God.
 
What an amazing thing has happened to us.  God has changed our standing, declared us righteous, assured us there is no condemnation awaiting us, given us life, saved us from death, empowered us to fulfill His law, and changed our minds so that we live and love to honor and serve Him!  In a nutshell, that is the works of regeneration and sanctification, and  it is all because of the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.
And then, in verse 9, he offers kind of a summation of what he's been saying, and he adds one additional detail. 
 
verse 9
 
First, if you're saved, you are no longer in the flesh. You live, move and have your being in the Spirit.  So that is the state of grace.  That is what it means to be saved. 
 
And the decisive proof of your salvation is the Spirit of God dwells in you.  And,  if you don't have the Spirit, then you aren't saved.  So if anyone doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, He doesn’t belong to God.  End of discussion. 
 
All these characteristics kind of mesh together at this point.  You’re not in the flesh, you don’t mind the things of the flesh, you don’t walk according to the flesh, you’re not in the state of death, all that’s summed up there. 
 
But instead, you’re in the Spirit, therefore, you walk in the Spirit, you mind the things of the Spirit, you have life and peace and all that is true "if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you."  So the mark of true salvation is the presence of the Holy Spirit.
 
There’s no such thing as a believer without the Holy Spirit.  To teach otherwise is just another of the tragic errors that have come from the modern charismatic movement.  They want you to believe that you can get saved and then later on you get the Spirit. 
 
But Paul says, "That is impossible.  Apart from the Spirit, you can't be anything but a sinner."  So if you got saved, you got the Spirit and the evidence of the transformation is the indwelling Spirit.  The Holy Spirit’s taken up residence in you.  You are the temple of God, the Holy Spirit as 1 Corinthians 6 says.
 
And just to drive the point home, he says the same thing in reverse at the end of
 
verse 9b
 
Every born-again child of God houses the Spirit of God and because you have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, it changes how you think, how you act, what you love, what you do, how you talk and it's because of His power overwhelming your fallenness.  So we see that the Holy Spirit is there empowering the work of regeneration and empowering the work of sanctification.
 
There’s one final work of the Holy Spirit, and we'll close with this and it address the end of the process.  The Holy Spirit impacts our salvation in that He changes our standing before God and moves us from death to life. 
 
And He impacts our sanctification in that we are empowered to fulfill the law and our mindset is changed to seek to follow and serve God. 
 
And thridly, He impacts our
 
3.  Glorification 
 
verse 10
So here Paul gets down to the nitty-gritty and makes sure they understand he's not teaching them that they won't die.  By the way, neither is he teaching sinless perfection. 
 
Even though we are empowered to fulfill the law and now have this desire to honor and serve Christ, there is a principle of sin that is still at work.  And because of that, you’re going to die and that’s not going to change.  You don’t fix that in this mortal body.  Neither regeneration or sanctification will negate the wages of sin at a physical level.  That’s the way it is.
 
Now to be sure they can make dying easier.  They can allow you to miss some of the tragic ends that befall those who walk in the flesh.  But the physical body will one day die and there is nothing we can do about it.    
 
But not so with your spirit.  Your spirit is alive because of righteousness.  It’s been literally covered in the imputed righteousness of Christ.  Your inner person, the person that you are that lives in that body, is alive with eternal life. 
 
And that's what verse 10 is addressing.  Paul is telling them the physical body is not going to get fixed down here.  Read elsewhere in his writings, and you will hear him talking about the tent being destroyed.  In it we groan, and we feel the wear and tear the years bring. 
 
In fact, notice in verse 10, he calls it "the body of death".  No doubt, Christ is in there, but it's still a dying body and the only hope it has is, verse 11, if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you. 
Because if the One who raised Christ Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He will also give life to your mortal bodies. 
 
And notice, how many times in verses 10 and 11 that he uses the two little words, "in you".  Why does he continue to repeat that?  It is because you couldn’t live one moment pleasing God without His power.  You couldn’t overcome your corruption without His power. 
 
And not only does the Holy Spirit do the work of regeneration and the work of sanctification, but here we find that God, who raised Christ from the dead, will also raise us up also.  He’s going to give life to our mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
 
We’re going to die.  This body is going to die and we all know that.  But the truth of the matter is, the day of our death is better than the day of our birth because the first time, we were just born into sin, and the next time we die, we’re going to be birthed into perfection.  And even though the body dies, the Spirit lives forever. 
 
So how does that work?  Someday, when you die, your spirit will go to heaven. Paul said to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  He said it is far better to depart and be with Christ.  But notice, after death is an out of body experience.  And notice I did not say it is an existence absent of consciousness. 
 
 
 
After physical death, we are still very much alive, more so than ever.  There is no limbo.  You’re not going to purgatory.  You’re not going to some holding place.  You’re not going to get stuck waiting for the next train to heaven on some endless track. 
 
Immediately, you’re going to see the Lord.  You're just going to do it without a body until the final resurrection.  Funerals always have these nice sentiments about grandpa sitting on the bank of the Crystal River with his fishing pole.  Well, he may be, but he's doing it without a body!   
 
We will be a spirit without a body until the Jesus gathers home his church.  ANd when that happens, Paul reminds us, the dead in Christ will rise first, then those alive will be gathered in the air to meet the Lord. 
 
So these old dead, decomposing bodies will be resurrected and changed and recreated and transformed to be like the body Jesus had after His resurrection.
 
Did you get that?  He’s going to give us a body like His resurrection body, like His body that ascended into heaven, like His body that walked through walls.  How’s He going to do it?  
 
Read again
 
verse 11
 
The same power that raised Jesus from the dead which is the power of the Holy Spirit, will also give life to our mortal bodies. That means someday the Holy Spirit is going to re-create you.
 
I realize that raises questions for a lot of people.  "Well what if I'm all disintegrated?  What about those bodies that burned up? What about being cremated?  What if my ashes are scattered on the ocean?  What about those who were drowned and never recovered?" 
 
Don't worry about it!  None of that matters!  He’s got it covered!  Listen:  The Holy Spirit knows what His house looks like!  He knows what you look like, even with all your imperfections and blemishes because He’s lived in there for a long time. 
 
He also has a perfect understanding and a perfect schematic to make the perfect you, which will bear some distant relationship to what you are here.  By the way, if he could take a handful of dirt, fashion a body and breathe life into it to begin with, He can handle remaking you!  Is that not power?  To re-create everyone who believes into their immortal bodies?  All the saints of all history. 
 
This is the work of the Holy Spirit.  This is the work for which He is to be exalted, freeing us from sin and death, enabling us to fulfill the law, transforming our nature, and giving us a glorified body that will dwell forever in heaven. This is the indispensable ministry of the Holy Spirit! 
 
And that's not all!  There is more to come! 
 
Let's pray.
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