“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk 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, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:1-8
There is so much meat in Romans 8:1-8, that I just started out this morning going line by line through the text and typing as the Lord led my thoughts. I am overwhelmed at how much there is to share within these words that God has ordained for us to hear, heed, and take to heart. Here are the meditations of my heart this morning as the Spirit has led me. I hope they bring as much joy to your heart as they did to mine.
There is no condemnation brought upon me from God when I choose to follow the Spirit over and above choosing to do things as my mind, the world around me, and sometimes every fiber in my own body is willing me to do instead. (Romans 8:1)
Freedom comes through living life in the Spirit (who will help me keep the law of God in it's entirety instead of trying my hardest to keep the God's law by doing the best I can on my own. (Romans 8:2)
By myself I am weak and that is why I need Jesus. Sin is just too powerful for me to overcome on my own – been there and tried that too many times to count – and when I got to the point where I was finally exhausted with trying to keep up the facade that I could “do good” on my own, that is when I was ready to receive Jesus as my personal Savior. (Romans 8:3)
The ultimate “law” prescribed by God for us to follow is not the 10 Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and not even what Jesus said were the greatest two commandments, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31) Instead, the ultimate law prescribed by God is for us to follow the Holy Spirit, who will lead us to keep the 10 Commandments, the truths within the Sermon on the Mount, the greatest commandments according to Jesus, AND everything else in between. (Romans 8:4)
Our minds are bent toward evil and sin and without the intervention of the Holy Spirit we are on a fast track to death and condemnation. Only when we agree to take ourselves out of the equation and allow the Holy Spirit to take over do we find our lives at peace – with ourselves, our neighbors, and with God. (Romans 8:5)
Being at war with God is not a state that leads to peace, let alone being at war with others and even ourselves. We try and try on our own to make our situations better, to heal our past brokenness, to mend relationships that have been torn apart, and we put hope in our own peace-making efforts to bring reconciliation between ourselves and God – but nothing ever seems to work out the way we planned. Jesus was speaking this same truth when he said, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.” (Mark 12:30) We either choose to serve Jesus through the indwelling of the Spirit OR we choose to serve ourselves by trying out hardest to please Jesus by going about our own paths towards righteousness. (Romans 8:6-7)
Pleasing God and doing everything within His will is possible, but not with any super effort we can supply from within ourselves. Walking in His Spirit every step of every day, listening for His still small voice that brings peace to every situation (no matter what we may think contrary to His logic), and praying for discernment and the strength to obey against our own willful and sinful reasoning – that alone is how we please God. (Romans 8:8)
What is even more important for all of us to understand though is that we are all given equal access to the same Spirit. Just because someone has been a believer longer, has greater biblical knowledge, or belongs to one denomination verses another has no bearing on the ability to draw from the reserves of the Spirit. The only prerequisite for obtaining the gift of the Spirit is faith in Jesus Christ and the willingness to give up control of your life to the One true Giver of Life. It is when you clean house and let the Spirit roam inside you so that He alone calls the shots at every turn, that you have not only fully realized the means to living out the complete law of God, but you have also found the instrumental means to being at peace with God.
May the Spirit of God dwell richly in your hearts today so that all you do will be pleasing to Him!