People are always searching for the latest shortcuts and ways to get around things. One of the most popular approaches to shortcuts right now are hacks. Although hacks don’t always have to be shortcuts, they usually are ways to do things better.
Sometimes these hacks come through specialized knowledge that most people don’t have. Other times they come through experience. When I was in Bible College, I learned about the origin of our Pentecostal heritage
Within the Wesleyan tradition was a group that sought to live a holy life. This Holiness Movement set out to answer the question, “How can I live a holy life without sinning on a regular basis?” They wanted to discover the “silver bullet” to living without sin.
As we look at Romans 8, we will see that the answer to wanting to follow God’s laws but not being able to because of our flesh comes through the power of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit, his leading and our obedience, is the silver bullet, the hack, for living a godly and holy life regularly.
The end of Romans 7 described the person who wants to live for God and please him, knowing that his laws are good. But this person has no power to do what God commands (Romans 7:24-25). Christ’s sacrificial death freed us from sin but we still fight with our flesh.
The way we feel in wanting to serve God and obey his commands but not doing it leaves us in a Catch-22. We feel terrible because we cannot completely obey God. We need power that doesn’t come from ourselves. To want to do what God says but not do it leaves us powerless.
But Paul introduces good news in the beginning of Romans 8. Those who desired to do what God commanded couldn’t do it until Christ came and fulfilled the law of sin and death with his own sacrificial death. He took our spot on the cross.
Anyone who is “in Christ,” has come under his sacrifice, is free from that same law of sin and death (Romans 8:2-3). None of us who are in Christ can stand condemned because Jesus paid our price (Romans 8:1). God did the work none of us could (Romans 8:4).
When Jesus came and died in our place, he set us free from our flesh. We can choose to ignore it and kill it. The Puritans called this the mortification of the flesh. We don’t listen to our fleshly desires that demand immediate pleasure.
Instead, Christ made a way for the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and give us the power to resist the flesh. One of the things the Spirit does for us when we obey his commands is to help us control our thoughts and set them toward godly things, the mind of Christ (Romans 8:4-8).
The mind of the Spirit sets itself on ways to please God. We think about how we can please God rather than the flesh and our own desires. The power of the mind set on the things of God and the Spirit brings life instead of death.
We who are in Christ have God’s Spirit dwelling in us. This brings life even though we have killed flesh and its desires. Instead, we live a life to God, desiring to please and glorify him with every breath. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in each of us is the game changer (Romans 8:9-11)!
This brings us to the next stage of sanctification. The Holy Spirit is working God’s desired character and behavior in us. He works for within. He speaks to us and gives us the power to resist sinful thoughts, habits, and desires.
Because of the Spirit’s work in us, we can mortify our flesh and listen to God instead (Romans 8:12-14). The Spirit brings us into adoption as God’s children and we receive an inheritance, eternal life in heaven with God (Romans 8:15-17). The Spirit won’t let us forget that we are God’s children and part of God’s family.
Groaning for Glory
This is where Paul introduces the idea of our longing and groaning for God to finish his work in human history. Our sufferings in this life are minimized because of the glory that God is bringing into our lives (Romans 8:18).
It’s not just us. All of creation is groaning and longing for God to reveal the children of God. Remember the curse God gave in Genesis 3:14-19? All of creation suffered because of Adam and Eve’s rebellion.
God cursed the serpent, childbirth, human relationships, and the ground. Paul says that God did this in hope that creation would be set free from its corruption (Romans 8:20-21). The first of several mentions of the word “groaning” tie creation, believers, and the Spirit together in this section.
Paul says that creation groans in birthing pains as it waits for God (Romans 8:22). And we grown along with creation, waiting for God to complete our inheritance (Romans 8:23). We have the Spirit, his indwelling presence, which promises greater things to come.
Our adoption and redemption are also part of these firstfruits. We hope based on these firstfruits and this inkling of what heaven will really be like. But it’s not finished yet. Hope would be useless if we didn’t have to wait. We live between the promise and its complete fulfillment (Romans 8:24-25).
Along with creation and believers groaning and waiting expectantly for that time when God completes his plan for the whole creation, the Spirit also groans as he helps us in prayer through intercession (Romans 8:26).
He intercedes for us with the Father and Son. Deep calls to deep. We don’t know exactly how to pray but the Spirit helps us pray within God’s will (Romans 8:27). For those believers in Christ who love God, he works all things out for our good (Romans 8:28). Because the Holy Spirit helps us pray within God’s will, the things we ask fall within his plan for our good.
Andy gets even better. God makes sure that we are conformed to Jesus’ image (Romans 8:29-30). He predestines us to be conformed. He also calls us to service. Then he justifies us as we conform to Christ. And finally, he glorifies us by completing his plan for creation and for us.
In the beginning of Romans 8, Paul talked about how Christ the Son through his sacrifice made as part of God’s family. Then he talked about how the Holy Spirit helps us to pray. And now he talks about how the Father has always been for us (Romans 8:31-34). The entire Godhead has been working in our favor since the beginning!
From Condemned to Conquerors
God is the only one who could have brought any charges against us but he is the one who justified us, send his son to save us, and allows his Spirit to dwell in us and intercede for us. And all of this has been part of his master plan. The beauty of the gospel is that the only one who can condemn us instead worked everything in our favor, all so that we could be his people and he could be our God.
Paul then finishes by talking about the love of Christ that’s like glue (Romans 8:35-39). There is nothing that can separate us from Christ’s love for us. He mentions seven things that separate but have no power over Christ’s love (Romans 8:35).
Instead of being condemned, we become conquerors because of Jesus’ love for us (Romans 8:37). He contrasts four opposite powers that have no power over Christ’s love for us. These things, as powerful as they are, can’t separate us from him. We are inseparable from God because of all of his work toward us.
What a powerful chapter to end the journey from sinner to saint! We have seen how Christ has set us free from sin and fleshly desires. He has solved the problem of a law that condemns us. And he has put his Holy Spirit in our hearts so that we can obey his commands.
He has been in our corner the entire time, even when we didn’t know him. What a powerful testimony and good news for all of us. This is the power of Christ in us. It is the hope of his glorification for each one of us. He has put a foretaste of his final glory and our inheritance in our lives.
Leave a comment to tell me what you think of this entire process. Let’s praise the Lord for his goodness to us and all that he has done on our behalf!