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The Law-Fulfilling Power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:4-5)
The Work and Ministry of the Holy Spirit
The Law-Fulfilling Power
of the Holy Spirit
Romans 8:4-5
 
Don't you think God must grow tired of people down on earth misrepresenting Him?  One of the preachers at the convention this past week preached about when Moses was up on the mountain, getting the law of God, and people down below, led by Aaron, made a golden calf.  A couple of interesting things about that.  One, when they made it, they said it was the god that brought them out of Egypt!
 
Now that had watched Aaron melt the gold down and hand carve the thing.  And yet, they give it credit for delivering them from captivity.  And wonder of wonders, Aaron in essence agrees and says, speaking of the calf, "Tomorrow we're going to have a feast to the Lord and celebrate.
 
And when Moses came down and found this golden calf, he asked about where it came from, and Aaron says, "Beats me!  It was the strangest thing!  I threw all of that gold in the fire and this calf jumped out!
 
It was a total misrepresentation of the nature and work and character of God.  Everything about the calf and what it produces was just the opposite of God and His nature.
 
And unfortunately, it's still happening, and in particular, it's is happening with regard to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.
There has been some serious tampering with the Holy Spirit, due in large part to the modern charismatic movement.  And what has happened is they have made a kind of golden calf out of the Holy Spirit that has produced error and misunderstanding and confusion, just the opposite of all the things the Holy Spirit brings and produces. 
 
So in the interest of truth and clarity and sound doctrine, I want us to take a biblical look at the work and ministry fo the Holy Spirit and to do that, we are going to concentrate primarily on Romans 8. 
 
As we saw last week, the chapter begins with this great statement of confidence: 
 
Romans 8:1
 
Now remember, that statement is the conclusion of a seven-chapter presentation about the nature of salvation.  Even though all have sinned and rightly deserve the punishment of a holy God, there is the possibility of existing in a no-condemnation status before God. 
 
If we’re in Christ Jesus, we will never be condemned. That’s how the chapter begins and also how it ends. 
 
verse 34
 
“Who is the one who condemns?”  Well, it’s sure not Christ!  And it’s not anything else either.  And it goes through the litany of things all the way down to the end where nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. 
 
So it begins by saying we’re not under condemnation.  Then it ends by raising all of the possible ways we could be condemned and eliminating every one of them.  So it’s a no-condemnation affirmation from verse 1 to verse 39.
 
This is one of those chapters that every believer ought to live in.  This is all glorious promise for no condemnation for those who are in Christ.  This is our security set in doctrinal, biblical terms.  This is where you need to live and rejoice that you are set for eternal glory.
 
And notice, it all happens through the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. We saw last time, in verses 2-3, that the Holy Spirit frees us from the law of death and condemnation and gives us eternal life by exercising a greater and more powerful law. 
 
In fact, as we'll see tonight, the Holy Spirit actually enables us to fulfill the law by changing our nature.  The Holy Spirit frees us from sin and death, gives us life, then enables us to fulfill the law by changing our nature here and now. 
 
And beyond that, the Holy Spirit will raise us one day to immortality.  In the meantime, the Holy Spirit empowers us for victory over sin.  The Holy Spirit confirms our adoption, guarantees our glory, and aids our prayers.  And that is why we end up with a no-condemnation status – because of the work of the Holy Spirit.
 
Now, last time, we talked about the fact that He frees us from sin and death by giving us life – verses 2 and 3 – “For the law of the Spirit of life”.
There, He’s called the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus because “He sets you free from the law of sin and death.”  The word “law” here is not used in the moral code sense, or the legal sense, but as a principle, the principle or the reality or the dominating power. 
 
So it would read like this, “For the reality of the Spirit of life, or the power of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, is to set you free from the power of sin and of death.”  You’ve been taken out of the realm of sin, which produces spiritual death and ultimately eternal death, and you’ve been given life by the Spirit of life.
 
How could He do that?  The law couldn’t do it, verse 3 says, because the flesh is too weak.  You can’t keep the law.  So God did it.  How did He do it?  He sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as an offering for sin and condemned sin in the flesh. 
 
We said last time the law condemns the sinner, that’s its purpose, that’s what it does, but it can’t condemn sin.  But God condemns sin in Christ.  Christ came in the likeness of the sinful flesh, though not sinful, and was a sacrifice for us, the substitute, took our place, and because Christ took the penalty for all the sins of all who will believe, the Spirit then gives them life because the justice of God has been satisfied. 
 
This is the great doctrine of substitutionary atonement, as well as the doctrine of imputed righteousness that’s given to us on the basis of the work of Jesus Christ.
 
 
So God did, by the death of Christ, what the law couldn’t do.  He killed the power of sin.  And the result is we who have been forgiven will live forever in heaven.  We have been covered with the righteousness of Christ.  We have gone from being dead to being alive, spiritually dead to being spiritually alive, eternally dead to being eternally alive, and that by the work of the Holy Spirit, decided by God, ratified by Christ, and applied by the Holy Spirit.  You are a product of the Spirit’s work.  So that’s the first thing.
 
And that would be enough, but that's not all.  The second result is
 
2. He enables us to fulfill God’s law by giving us a new nature,
 
In other words, He changes us from the inside out. Let's start in the middle of  
 
verse 3b -4
 
He condemned sin in the flesh SO THAT. . . and what follows is the result of sin being condemned in the flesh.  Because you’re now alive, been given life, been justified, your sins paid for, death satisfied, justice satisfied, wrath satisfied, you are now alive by the Holy Spirit, you have been born again, given life, regenerated.  That’s possible because of the sacrifice of Christ.  So as far as you’re concerned, sin is condemned, you are not.
 
So what are the results?  What happens through imputed righteousness is such a dramatic change, that it has another component which we could call imparted righteousness. 
And please don't use the two interchangeably because they are two different things.  Read again
 
verse 4
 
"that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.”  And please not it does not say "in Christ".  The requirement for the law was first fulfilled in Christ, and what did the law require?  The wages of sin is death.  So that requirement, that required punishment  was fulfilled in Christ.  He took our sin, died our death, paid our penalty, received our punishment.
 
But now, as a result of Him doing that, the requirement of the law can be fulfilled in us.  This is because we aren’t the same persons we used to be.  Our salvation is not just a divine declaration.  It is that.  It is God declaring us righteous, but it more than that. 
 
It doesn’t just move you from classification to another.  It's not like changing your voting registration from one party to the other.  It's not jsut categorical, it is real and experiential.  That’s what conversion is.
 
Now think about this:  The righteousness of the law is nothing more than the righteousness of God which is reflected in His law.  That means God’s law is simply a reflection of His own righteous nature.  Whatever is right or wrong as indicated in the revelation of His law is a reflection of the One who Himself is perfect holiness. 
 
 
So how can it be that the righteousness of the law can be fulfilled in us?  After all, have you watched you lately?  Far too often we are anything but a reflection of God.  But just because we don't reflect righteousness doesn't mean we can't reflect righteousness. 
 
This is Paul's point.  Before the miracle of salvation through the Holy Spirit, we couldn’t fulfill the law.  It is impossible for natural, sinful man to do it.  That's what Romans 3 means when it says "There is none righteous, no not one, none that does good, none that seeks God, can’t do anything right, your righteousness is filthy rags, Isaiah says. 
 
By the deeds of the law, no flesh can be justified.  You cannot please God.  You’re alienated from the life of God.  You’re corrupt, you do what your father, the devil, does.  His desires and lusts you follow. 
 
So how in the world can we now all of a sudden do the things that are in the law? Well, just as the Holy Spirit can move us from being condemned to no condemnation, He can also cause us to be able to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law.
 
The biblical doctrine for this change is sanctification.  And what precipitates this change is a real experience that happens to every born-again child of God.  And what happened is you died.   
 
What did we read in Romans 6?  We died with Christ.  Not only did we die, we resurrected.  And when we did, we rose to walk in newness of life.  We were not raised to life to continue in the same old life we were living before salvation. We were resurrected to walk with a new life. 
After all, we’ve been born again.  We’re not the same person.  We are a new creation.  Second Corinthians tells us, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation” – chapter 5 verse 17. 
 
So we’re new and here’s how our newness is defined
 
Romans 8:4
 
So how is it that we can now fulfill the requirement of the law?  It is “because we do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” 
 
There is an entirely new resident power living within us.  We’re a new creation, and as such, we are the temple of the Spirit of God.  It’s a combination of a new person, you, and a new person, the Holy Spirit, being in you.
 
By the way, please notice that statement at the end of verse 4 is a fact, not a command. It’s not an instruction or a request, it’s a fact.  You do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  When you’re a Christian, you’re different.  Don’t tell me you’re a Christian if you’re not different.  Don’t tell me you’re a Christian if you’re walking according to the flesh.  Don’t tell me you’re a Christian if your life looks like all the other people who are not Christians, with the exception that you show up at church once in a while.
 
This is not a responsibility here.  We'll get to those later down in verses 12 and 13 because there are some responsibilities that accompany sanctification. 
 
 
But for now, what the Word is saying is, “You do not walk after the flesh anymore, you walk after the Spirit.”  It’s a declaration of who we are and what we do. 
 
In fact, verse 5 expands the fact.
 
verse 5
 
So first of all, he states the fact.  Those who are saved walk according to the Spirit and you walk according to the Spirit because your mind is set on the things of the Spirit. 
 
You think differently and therefore, you act differently.  Again, that's not an instruction or encouragement to change the way you think.  It is a declaration of the fact that those who are in Christ will think differently. 
 
The inevitability of the new birth is your life will change and your direction will change, your disposition will change, your bent will change, your behavior will change, your affections will change, everything will change when you get saved.  This is how you will live if you’re a believer. 
 
So just to follow Paul's line of thought, he reminds us that Christ met the penalty of the law of God for us so that we could keep the law of God by the power of the Holy Spirit in us.  Christ met the penalty for us; the Spirit fulfills the law in us.
 
When the sinner leaves the courtroom of God with a pardon for sin, he’s not finished with the law.  The moral law of God runs right through the heart of the kingdom.
 It runs right through the heart of every true Christian.  The moral law of God is nowhere more at home than in the middle of the kingdom of grace because God’s law is a reflection of Him and his Will. 
 
The moral law can’t make us holy, but God can enable us by regeneration in the presence of the Holy Spirit to progressively become holy and to fulfill the law.  This is a fact.  If you’re a believer, you are in the process of this progressive sanctification.
 
So what does it mean to be sanctified and separate from sin?  It means to become obedient to the law of God, obedient to the will of God, to do what pleases God and He’s revealed what pleases Him. 
 
Think about it this way:  obedience to the law is not and cannot be the grounds of our justification.  It is, however, the fruit of our justification.  And it is the evidence of our sanctification.  Those who are justified are also sanctified under the influence of the Holy Spirit by whose power we now live and we can fulfill the divine law.
 
What did David say?  “Oh, how I love Your law.  Your law is my delight.”  We love the law, and why wouldn't we?  it is in the keeping of the law that we most reflect the character and nature of our God and Savior.  Therefore, it’s our bent.  It’s our desire.  It’s our hunger.  It’s what we want.
 
You can think of it this way, sort of in the big-picture sense:  God’s loving commands, which are right and true and holy and good, He revealed to Adam for the sake of Adam’s fellowship and joy in the Garden. 
 
That’s why God walked and talked with Him in the cool of the day every evening.  What was that about?  I’ll tell you what, it wasn’t.  It wasn't Adam telling God anything.  It was divine revelation.  It was God unloading the agenda on Adam.  Adam knew that when he woke up that morning and there was a creature there the likes of which he had never seen, he was supposed to take her as a wife because God told him. 
 
Adam knew what his responsibility in the Garden was because God told him.  Adam knew what he wasn’t supposed to do because God told him.  Adam knew what he knew because God told him.  God was always the source of truth.  God gave Adam behaviors that were reflection of the Will of God and what would please God.
 
So God’s loving commands, which He gave to Adam, were for the purpose of Adam’s joy as he obeyed them.  Then came the fall, and what happened?  The rules didn't  change.  The law’s the same but now, suddenly, it’s negative, it’s restrictive, it’s prohibitive, and it doesn’t produce fellowship with God. 
 
Instead, it produces separation from God.  Everything’s gone bad.  It doesn’t bring about joy, it brings about sorrow.  It doesn’t have a future anticipation of continued blessing, it has a future anticipation of damnation.  Same law, same God revealing the same things in Eden produces love, fellowship, joy, hope, blessing.  Same law after the fall, negative, prohibitive, restrictive, separates the soul from God, condemns man, makes him guilty, without peace, without hope, headed for judgment.
 
Then comes the gospel.  The exact same commands that God gave in the Old Testament, consistent with His nature, that damned us and condemned us now become the very things that we long to do because they define our fellowship with God, our joy with Him. 
 
What did John say?  “These things I write unto you, that your joy may be full.”  “Happy is the man who hears My Word and keeps it.”  If you want a relationship with God, if you want joy in that relationship, blessing in that relationship, hope in that relationship, then you do the things that please Him. 
 
And the things that please Him and honor Him are the things that He has revealed as right and good and holy.  Before you couldn’t do that, so it was all condemnation. 
 
But now, you have been given life, you are a new creation and you have a capacity now to do what you could never do in the past.  Not only do you have a capacity to do it because you’re a new creation, but you have an attending, divine helper, the Holy Spirit, who enables you to do them.  And wonder of wonders, you now have joy in the doing of those things!
 
It was Augustine who said, “Grace was given that the law might be fulfilled.”  And it can be fulfilled because the Holy Spirit has changed our nature and taken up residence in us.  And please don't miss how personal is that relationship. 
 
 
 
Remember, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.  Not just the church collectively but you as an individual.  The Spirit is right there inside you aiding and helping this new creation to fulfill the law of God. 
 
So much so that it's who you are.  It's your disposition.  It's your life.  It's what you love!  It's what you want if you have been born again. 
 
The comfort which comes to us from the Holy Spirit is connected to our obedience.  The assurance which comes to us from the Holy Spirit is connected to our obedience.  Joy is connected to our obedience.  Absence of fear and anxiety and doubt is connected to our obedience.  And we have the capacity because we have been made new and we have the resident Holy Spirit empowering us.  What an amazing gift.
 
Now let’s go back for just a moment to verse 5.  We'll look at this verse in more detail next time, but I just want to point out something that we see there.   
 
According to this verse, there are only two kinds of people in the world.  There are who live according to the flesh, and they set their minds on the things of the flesh, and those who live according to the Spirit, who set their mind on the things of the Spirit.  And, as verse 6 says, the mind set on the flesh is death and the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.
 
Let me make your life real simple.  I can help you with a lot of stuff you've got to deal with.  There are only two kinds of people in the world, the saints and the ain’ts. 
 
The two kinds of people in the world are those who function according to the flesh and those who function according to the Spirit. 
 
There are people who function according to the flesh.  They do what the flesh tells them to do.  They follow their father, the devil.  They lie like he does.  They kill like he does.  They destroy like he does.  They are those who operate according to the flesh.  Then, on the other hand, there are those who operate according to the Spirit. That means they fulfill the righteous requirements of the law. 
 
Now think about this:  As far as salvation is concerned, this distinction is the only way God ever divides people.  God never divides people by race.  He never divides people by gender. He never divides people by culture, education, economic status, social standing, none of that. 
 
But when it comes to salvation, all people are divided into two categories, and only two.  Those who live according to the flesh and those who live according to the Spirit.  Those who mind the things of the flesh, those who mind the things of the Spirit.  Those who walk according to the flesh, those who walk according to the Spirit. 
 
Christians are the people who function in the Spirit, they live in the Spirit, they think in the Spirit, they walk in the Spirit and those who function in the flesh don't.  It's just that simple.  That’s the only difference God recognizes.  In Christ, there’s neither Jew, Gentile, Greek, male, female, bond, free.  he doesn't make any distinction, and neither should we. 
 
So it's real simple to know if you are saved.  Do you fulfill the righteous requirements of the law?  You do if the Holy Spirit lives within you because those who live according to the Spirit have set their mind of the things of the Spirit.  You are either alla bout death or all about life and peace.  
 
One final thought, and I'm through.  Beginning in verse 5 and continuing down through verse 7, notice how many times the word "mind" occurs.  Then notice that the "mind" produces the "walk".  And in between, you will see the word "according" which is referring to the nature that is at work.  
 
So "mind" refers to thinking, "walk" refers to behavior and according references the nature.  So if you think fleshly things you will walk according to the flesh. That is the unconverted, unregenerate nature. 
 
On the other hand, if you are according to the Spirit as to your nature, then you will think the things of the Spirit and walk in the ways of the Spirit.  That is abundantly clear.  When we are saved, the Spirit takes up residence within us and the Spirit causes us to desire something we never desired before.  Suddenly, with all our hearts, we long to fulfill the righteous requirements of the Law and that desire is placed there by the transformation of our nature and by the ever-resident Holy Spirit.  What a gift!  What a treasure! 
 
May God help us to honor Him for His unspeakable gift of the Holy Spirit!
 
Let's pray.
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