THEME: Living a Life in the Spirit To break the reign of sin and the patterns of our old life outside of Christ requires decisive action.

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1 STUDY/DISCUSSION GUIDE ROMANS 8:1-7 INTRODUCTION Here in chapter 8 Paul continues to develop for us practical steps to reigning in life through a relationship with Christ. Beginning in 5:17, we learned that in receiving Christ we have been united to share in the benefits that are ours through His death and resurrection. The steps to enjoying this new life were laid out for us in chapter 6. Then, in chapter 7, Paul stopped to deal with the agonizing struggle of this process. In chapter 8, we return to more fully understanding principles to implement a new life in Christ. Principles that support a life lived in the Spirit, which then enables us to live a life that can reign over sin. We are going to look at five of these principles in 8:1-7. THEME: Living a Life in the Spirit To break the reign of sin and the patterns of our old life outside of Christ requires decisive action. First Principle (v. 1) A Life in the Spirit Requires that We Live Free from Condemnation The struggles we looked at in chapter 7 cause many followers of Christ to feel they have failed Jesus horribly in the process of trying to live a life in the Spirit. Understanding what to do with condemnation is vital if we are to win over the destructive force of condemnation. v. 1 Therefore - This word links the following teaching about a life in the Spirit to Paul s previous teaching. In the first five chapters of Romans, Paul has taught about the all-inclusive and total depravity of the human race, and God's provision for the forgiveness and justification for all humanity found in Christ. Beginning in 5:17 through chapter 6, Paul teaches how a believer can reign in life over sin; then in chapter 7 the believer s common experiences of struggle with the old nature (flesh). Paul concludes his description of this struggle by pointing to the life in the Spirit as the only solution to the believer s victory over sin s power. now - This points out the freedom from condemnation that is now possible. condemnation - This is a term normally used in a judicial sense. It carries the idea of both the sentence of guilt and the execution of that sentence. in Christ Jesus - The source of no condemnation is the shared results of Christ's atonement for sin that is complete and full. To be in Christ is a place of security and shared riches that result from all Christ gives to those who are in Him. Page 1 of 6

2 Condemnation carries with it a guilty verdict with a resulting sense of failure. Those who are seeking to please Christ often feel overwhelmed with guilt when they believe they have not pleased the One they love. The solution for condemnation is to discover the firm position we have found in being in Christ. Read the following verses to discover some of the benefits found being in Christ. Truths that completely destroy the debilitating impact of condemnation. 1. Romans 8:31-34 note the strong and courageous stand against condemnation 2. Ephesians 1:3-14 note the reoccurring reference to being in Christ/in Him/in the Beloved, etc. 3. Revelation 12:10 note the powerful impact of Christ s blood and our testimony to what it has done Condemnation will always result in a loss of hope and faith in God s willingness to stand by us as we are learning how to walk in an entirely new way of life. When this hopelessness sets in, unbelief hinders us from taking the steps of faith necessary to move toward a life in the Spirit because they now seem impossible and to be nothing more than an opportunity for failure. 1. What concepts of God would usually be in the mind of a Christian who feels condemned by God? Where do you think these thoughts about God come from? 2. Review the passages referred to in Food for Thought. Describe how these passages can strengthen you when you feel condemned (Rom. 8:31-34; Eph. 1:3-14; Rev. 12:10). 3. How does condemnation throw cold water on your efforts to walk in the Spirit? Second Principle (v. 1) A Life in the Spirit Requires a Personal, Ongoing Decision We are told not to walk in the flesh. This is a command based upon what God has now, in Christ, given us ability to act on. v. 1 do not walk - This indicates our personal responsibility to make a decision of whether we will walk under the influence of the flesh or the Spirit. Until we see Christ face to face and are completely transformed into His image, the decision to walk in the flesh or in the Spirit is ours to make. It is required of each one of us to take personal responsibility to choose whether we yield to the flesh or the Spirit. In 6:12-23 we were given five practical steps to enable a victorious response to the reign of sin. It might be helpful to go back and review those practical steps in your Core Study Guide. Briefly, those five steps are: 1. v To act on the power now given to us to not yield to sin 2. v To live in the power of grace 3. v To accept there is no neutral zone 4. v To have our hearts formed by truth 5. v To live in sight of the fruit worthy of all God can do Page 2 of 6

3 1. How can the concept that basically says, If God wants to change me, then He will have to do it become a roadblock to real spiritual change? 2. What is the basis for us to take decisive action against sin rather than to wait until we feel emotionally motivated to do so? Third Principle (v. 2) A Life in the Spirit Requires an Understanding of the Power of Both the Law of the Spirit and the Law of Sin For us to walk in victory over the force of sin and enjoy an abundant life in the Spirit requires an understanding of spiritual laws and their impact upon our lives. This is a reference to the principles (spiritual laws) that determine the impact upon our spiritual life. v. 2 Law of the Spirit - Paul used the term "law" to convey the idea of a principle or force at work in our spiritual lives. The law of sin and the law of death are both referred to as a force, or a law, that operates to master our lives. made me free - Paul points out that the law of life has greater power than the law of sin and death. Paul refers to two spiritual laws in v. 2: the law of the spirit of life and the law of sin. Just as gravity is a natural law that, when understood, can be used or overruled for our benefit, likewise understanding spiritual laws can be used for our spiritual benefit. The law of the spirit of life is a principle that, if properly understood, can override the law of sin. The law of sin is a law that ruled us before Christ. The impact of its force spiritually is briefly described in Ephesians 2:1-3 as a force that holds a person to a life ruled by sinful passions. Just as natural laws can be overruled by a greater natural law (such as gravity being overruled by the laws of aerodynamics and propulsion), so the law of sin can be overruled by the law of the spirit of life. Romans 6:1-11 gives us the basis for why the law of the spirit of life is able to override the law of sin. A brief review of that passage and the Core Study Guide on that passage might be helpful. The shared benefits we have in Christ s death and resurrection have provided us with a spiritual law the law of the spirit of life that can override the law of sin. It is vital that we realize all that the Spirit has given us to enable this new principle of life to be as effective as possible. We have been given gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:7-11; Rom. 12:6-8), abundant life in the Spirit (John 7:37-39), and godly fruit from the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25). 1. What is the power of the law of sin and what is its impact upon the human race? (Eph. 2:1-3) 2. What is the law of the Spirit of life able to do in overcoming sin and transforming our lives? Fourth Principle (v. 3-4) A Life in the Spirit Benefits from Christ s Life that Overcame Sin as a Man Page 3 of 6

4 Jesus was fully God and man. As a man He suffered the same temptations as all humanity, and as a man He conquered those temptations. v. 3 weak through the flesh - The Law here, referring to biblical law, is shown to be powerless in its ability to enable a person to do God's will because of the law of sin that rules a person's flesh (fallen nature). The law could tell a person what is right and wrong but it could not provide the power to do what is right. likeness of sinful flesh - Jesus came into this world and experienced all the temptations that are common to the human condition. He however remained sinless and thus "condemned" or dealt with sin conquered, overruled sin while He lived in a human state. v. 4 Law might be fulfilled - The requirements of God s law were first met by the justification Jesus provided in justly forgiving sin. Secondly, the law s requirement is being fulfilled in the believer because he now shares in the life of Jesus that dealt with and overcame sin while He lived in human form. according to the Spirit - The source of a believer's ability to live according to God's will is plainly stated. It is the abiding, consistent walk under the Holy Spirit's influence. What Jesus went through as a man is extremely valuable in our own process in overcoming the reign of sin. Jesus subjected Himself to the real-life temptations we all face. The book of Hebrews makes this clear in telling us, Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted (Heb. 2:17-18); For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:15-16). Jesus genuinely does sympathize with us. Colossians 1:27 tells us, To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He really is our hope because He not only sympathizes with what we go through, but also dwells within us to transform us into His image (2 Cor. 3:18; Rom. 8:29). 1. It is common for many of us to think God could not truly understand the struggles we go through. What benefits can we derive from knowing He not only has felt our struggles, but has conquered them and is within us to bring us to the victory He had over sin while on Earth? 2. Colossians 1:27 tells us that Christ in us is the hope of our glory. What is the glory that should be your hope as you face sin knowing Christ now dwells within you? Fifth Principle (v. 5-7) To Walk in the Spirit Requires that our Mind is Transformed Page 4 of 6

5 The outworking of our lives is predicated much more upon the shaping of our minds than we often realize. How seriously we take the way we think has a direct impact upon how our lives will turn out. v. 5 According to the flesh According, in the word in Greek is kata, and is a word for down. It conveys the idea of being controlled. The present participle is used here which refers to continuous action. Thus the thought behind this phrase is to be consistently under the control of the flesh (fallen nature). It therefore would be speaking about a nonbeliever s life under the consistent control of the flesh as contrasted to a believer s life. set their minds - This refers to the deliberate effort of an individual to direct their thoughts and interests. The nonbeliever is contrasted here as one who is habitually dwelling upon the various works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21) versus the believer who is set upon the things of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-24). v. 6 carnally minded death - Carnal is a term for the flesh, referring to the fallen nature. Paul reveals here that to be bound by the force of fallen nature in the operations of our thoughts is itself the manifestation of death. In Ephesians 2:1-2, Paul also declares that the life lived by those in Adam and outside of Christ is a life of death that is the result of being separated from the life in Jesus Christ. spiritually minded - Here we see the stark contrast of a life dominated by carnal thinking, rather than spiritual thinking. The fruit of spiritually directed thinking is life and peace. This helps us to see the importance behind Paul's words in Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on there things. v. 7 enmity against God - Enmity is a word that describes the deep-seated rebellion and animosity of fallen humanity toward God. This goes beyond the acts of rebellion to the deep animosity against God that can at times be hidden below the surface. We are given only two primary paths that our minds can take. One is a path based on our fallen nature and the law of sin. The other path is one of life built on the law of the Spirit. One path leads to rebellion against God (enmity v. 7), cannot please God, and ends in death (v. 6). The other path leads to peace and ends in life (v. 6). The path we choose to walk is based entirely on what we set our minds upon. The flesh (old nature) and the law of sin is present everywhere. A world in rebellion to God provides many opportunities to feed a person s mind with what will produce a carnal mind. It becomes paramount that we take personal responsibility to set our minds upon those things that provide a resource to frame our minds with spiritual truth. It will not happen automatically or easily in a world full of false messages. Transformation of our lives is promised if we renew our minds with truth. Read Romans 12:1-2, John 3:31-36, and Philippians 4:8. It is often within our minds that the battle for our souls is won or lost. This is why the apostle Paul emphasized the vital importance of using spiritual weapons to bring every thought into captivity that is in rebellion to God (2 Cor. 10:3-5). It is impossible to live a life in the Spirit with its accompanying victory if we do not reshape our thinking to be in harmony with God. Page 5 of 6

6 1. Describe what it takes to bring down and destroy a mindset or thoughts about God, ourselves, or this world that are rooted in the flesh. 2. Describe some of those views about life that, if not destroyed, will destroy us. 3. What practical steps help put in place a lifestyle that is being fed truth that sets free versus lies that create bondage and death? CONCLUSION We are promised a wonderful life by Christ a life that can reign in grace and life through Jesus Christ. But the transition to this glorious life requires decisive action steps of faith. Action that we sincerely believe the grace of God will enable. There is a great hope laid before us for victory and abundant life. The benefits of a life in the Spirit are well worth the process. Let new life be your aim. If so, you are destined to great gain. Page 6 of 6

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