Last week we began our 5 week series on the Holy Spirit by seeing that Jesus calls the Holy Spirit “the Helper.” But what does the Spirit help us with? This Sunday we’ll see that one of the main things that the Spirit helps us with is becoming more like Jesus - or what is often called “sanctification.”
Romans 8 is a powerful explanation of how the Spirit does this sanctifying work in our lives. All of it depends on our union with Jesus Christ, which in Romans 8 is expressed in two distinct ways. First, it’s clear that because of the gospel we are “in Christ.” For those who trust in Jesus Christ and his finished work, “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (8:1). Paul is describing here the work of justification, in which by faith we are freed from the penalty of sin. By grace through faith, God receives and approves us as if we were Christ himself, applying his righteousness to our record.
But then Pau goes on to elaborate something truly astounding. Not only are we “in Christ,” but through the Holy Spirit Christ is “in us.” “And if The Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raise cHrist from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you” (8:11). The living, resurrection Jesus is actually IN us, making us more and more into the image of Christ. Through the gospel we are not only saved from the penalty of sin, but the Spirit also enables us to be free of its power. That is the ultimate goal of the gospel: that God is restoring us into his true image, re-making us in the image of Jesus.
But this is not automatic. Paul exhorts us to “live according to the Spirit.” Though Christ is in us through the Spirit, our sin nature is still in us too, but now through the power of the Spirit we can choose to follow the way of the Spirit. We are called to cooperate with the Spirit as he works to re-make us in the image of Christ. We’ll look at some practical ways we can do that together.
Our weekly worship guide can be found here.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh,4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodiesbecause of his Spirit who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirityou received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.