Romans 8:1-13

Set Free 

We live in a fallen world, and we often feel trapped and stuck and in danger, and it is the work of Christ that sets us free from all of those things. The core message is that in Christ we are set free from sin and death so that we can now pursue life in the Spirit of God. 

This passage is rich and has been called many things: the inner sanctuary within the cathedral of the Christian faith, the tree of life in the midst of the Garden of Edenthe highest peak in a range of mountains. Greatest passage within what many consider to be the greatest book in Scripture.  (Doug Moo, Romans).

  • Set Free. 1-4

Therefore. This passage builds on what has been said previously. When you see “therefore” you need to ask what it is there for. “And” is a conjunctive and it connects. “But” is a conjunctive, but shows a contrast. “Therefore” works to show that what came before is the basis for what is about to be said. It introduces a statement resulting from, or caused by, what immediately precedes. I earned a million dollars, therefore I am buying a lamborghini. 

It is not blind faith. It is faith that is coherent, rational, and based on substance. You are reading a book full of the spirit of God that is logically grounded and sound. 

What precedes chapter 8 is Paul talking about the struggle we have in the flesh. The struggle with sin. “I do what I do not want to do. Who will rescue me from this body of death??” In light of that struggle, how now will we live. Condemned. Hopeless. In a constant cloud of darkness and depression. No! Thanks be to God…

Therefore, in light of this battle and the coming of a Savior, therefore… There is now no Condemnation. It is amazing. Caught red handed and expect a condemning verdict, and yet you are pardoned. 

Condemnation. damnatory sentence. To find one guilty and therefore fully deserving of punishment. We are guilty but have now been set free. 

What is the basis of our being set free? Why did that happen? Another logical flow of thought. He gives a fascinating and enlightening explanation of why this is. Here is the reason why you no longer live with condemnation.

[2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.  

That’s amazing! What does it mean?! I don't remember that law. I remember the law to not murder, not lie, but what is this law? I remember the law being given to MOses but I don't remember the law of death. 

First, the way he is using law here. Normally we think of law as in a very specific expression of the will of a ruler or government. Don’t murder. Don’t drive while intoxicated. But here law is more of a generalized expression. The law of gravity describes an observable and regular process. If you hold a ball in the air and let go, then it will fall. There is a generalized rule, or law. That type of law is what you have here. He is not referring to the ten commandments, the Mosaic law, nor even the Bible. 

God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He said if they did they would die. That command forbid eating of it was intended to bring life. But they disobeyed and sin and death came into the world. It was a law: obey and you will live. Disobey and you will die. It is as simple as that. The way sin and death work.

The law, intended for good, was weakened, lost its power to execute goodness, because of sin. Instead of bringing life, when sin entered the world, the law was a source of death and condemnation. As plain as the law of gravity. You drop a ball and it falls to the ground. 

The law of the spirit of life. This law comes through Christ. He is the source of us being set free. So what is this law? Was that law given in the sermon on the mount?? No, I think it is similar to the law of sin and death. Similar but different. The law of life is that if you obey you will live. Jesus obeyed, and so now there is a law at work leading to life that is just as certain as the law leading to sin and death. 

[By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 

What people failed to do, God did. He sent his son. The righteous requirements of the law were fully met by him. By faith we are now united to him. We get into his bus, going where he is going. The law of the spirit of life was at work and would not be stopped because he fully obeyed. 

Sin is now condemned. If we are in Christ we are no longer in the law, no longer in sin, no longer in death. We belong to another and his work and his grace cover us. We are set free from sin, set free from death, set free to live by the Spirit of God. 

The Spirits Work. The spirit leads, convicts, and points to the work of Jesus. We have life in Jesus, and it is the Spirit that does that work. It is the law of the Spirit. Law shows the concreteness of what we can depend on the spirit. Just as certainly as the Old Testament law could be depended on so now we can be just as certain as the promises in Jesus. The Holy Spirit is mentioned nineteen times in this passage. 

What is the ultimate source of being set free? It is God. He sent his son. 

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Because through Christ Jesus… 

Jesus comes in the likeness of sinful flesh. It does not say he is sinful, but in the likeness. He came in the flesh, but he never sinned. Even to the point of shedding his blood. He fully satisfied the righteous laws. 

The greatness of this passage is in regards to the way it communicates the work and accomplishment of Christ for us. The confidence with which we can live every day. 

All the things you are embarrassed and ashamed of can be forgiven. Think about the place of shame and condemnation. 

Adam and Eve sinned. They begin blaming each other, recognizing they are naked and inadequate. They ran from God. They make fig leaves to cover their shame and nakedness. Look around at our culture today. Depression. Drug abuse. Self medication. Endless quest to prove yourself. 

Let me tell you this, whatever is most important to you, that is the thing you are going to live for and see to live for their acceptance. If the admiration of a guy is what you want, you will wear yourself out for it, and let me tell you that you will never find their complete and unwavering admiration. If it is your kids, then you will be an anxious wreck hoving for their approval. If your acceptance is in a certain income, you will always find one more level to go. If it is being self-sufficient and dependent on no one, then you will be a slave to that. Please your parents and resent them. The problem of living for the wrong thing, and depending on the wrong person's performance. 

If the most important thing in life is finding the approval of God, then be accepted in christ is the greatest thing, and that means you can have rest, peace. You have found achieved something that evades many of the most successful and influential people in the world. Don't believe me, just look at the magazines next time you are checking out at the grocery store. Exceptional people all trying to mask guilt and find acceptance. 

  • Minds Set on The Spirit. 

Because of Christ we are set free, and that means that right now in the fallenness and brokenness of life we can set our minds on God’s renewing work. We are not in bondage. 

In light of what Jesus has done and set us free of, there are two ways we can live. I know that is hard for you to think about. Only two. Our culture likes to make things more complex than they should be. You may recoil hearing this is such a narrow minded view of life. Don't call right wrong, don't call normative what is not normative, don't introduce complexity where there is not complexity. When Amanda tells me to get my shoes and sox off the living room floor, there are only two options. God has done something

[5 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 set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

-mind of spirit is life and peace. Mind that is controlled and owned by the spirit. Mind that finds its source in the Spirit. 

-mind of flesh is death. It is a singular end point. 

-the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to him. It can't do that. It is not empowered by the Spirit of God. No matter how polite, educated, how eloquent, how beautiful that person may be. They are hostile to God. Make no mistake about it. Hate and boredom.

How do we know what the Spirit desires, by looking into the law that tells us what is holy and righteous and pure. But our seeking of that is not about seeking a bunch of rules. It is being in Christ, with Christ, of Christ. A lot of professing believers just aren’t that excited about being with Jesus. 

Want to experience the Spirit, put yourself in line to experience the Spirit. Donald Whitney had a great saying, that if you want to get hit by a bus, then go into the highway. Position yourself where the bus is. If you want to get filled with the Spirit, put yourself in position. Be in the word, and have the word in you. Be in church and have your heart in it. That is what it looks like to be full of Spirit. Be in Christ and delighting in him wherever you are. 

Empty yourself of all the other things

It is a spiritual battle. We have to say yes to the spirit. We have to make a concerted effort to think differently. To let the balm of the gospel get into our hearts and minds. 

We have to retrain ourselves to live in light of what God has done for us. We have to develop a new mindset, a mind controlled by the spirit. 

Writer Billy Oppneheim shares a story about the performance psychologist  Dr. Jim Loehr who counseled athletes and spent many years listening to the stories people tell themselves. “And I began to realize that what really matters, in a really significant way, is the tone and the content of the voice in your head,” he said. “The power broker in your life is the voice that no one ever hears. How well you revisit the tone and content of that voice in your head is what determines the quality of your life. It is the master storyteller, and the stories we tell ourselves are our reality.” 

One of the athletes Dr. Loehr worked with was the speed skater Dan Jansen. At both the 1988 and 1992 Olympics Jansen was the favorite to win the 500- & 1,000-meter races. He didn’t medal at either—the media was brutal: “Jansen Chokes Again,” “Greatest Choke in Sports History,” 

His agent called Dr. Loehr, and said, “If we can get his head right, he’ll be an Olympic champion. If we can’t, he’ll go down as the greatest choker in sports history.” 

During their first meeting, Loehr learned that Jansen hated the 1,000-meter event. Loehr explains. “He thought of himself as a sprinter. So he loved the 500 and hated the 1,000.” Loehr started attending Jansen’s training sessions, and after watching Dan skate over and over and over again, he became convinced that Dan’s best shot at winning a gold medal was not in the 500, but in the 1,000.

“You need to change your mindset,” Loehr told Jansen. “You need to change the story you tell yourself about the 1,000. If you change that story, I believe it can change your life.”

“From now on,” Loehr told him, “on the top of your training log, I want you to write, ‘I love the 1,000.’ “But,” Jansen said, “I hate the 1,000.” “I know,” Loehr said. “But we’re going to recondition the way you think and feel about the 1,000.”

For 2 years, at the top of his training log, Jansen wrote, “I love the 1,000.” “And before Lillehammer,” Loehr said, “Dan came to me and said, ‘You know, I’m actually starting to like the 1,000. I think I might even like the 1,000 better than the 500.’”

At the games in Lillehammer, Jansen slipped and finished 8th in the 500. Another set back. But before the 1,000 —which Jansen knew would be the last time he ever skated competitively— Lohr told him, “instead of a gold medal or a world record or anything else—think about what a gift the sport of speed skating has been to you. Think about the joy it’s brought you.”

With that mindset, Jansen lined up for the 1,000-meter, he not only won his first Olympic gold medal, he set a new world record time in the 1,000.
Having the right mindset is so important to a person and their life. It should not be surprising that God would give us what we need to have a right mindset. 

Think about this. I love the 1000 meter. The 1000 meter is fun. I'm good at it. I ll win the 1000 meter. How powerful is that to change your perspective. 

Now think about this

-“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 

-The law of the spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. -What the law was powerless to do God did by sending his son… 

-but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 

We are fallen and live in a fallen world, and need our thoughts brought in line with what God says and does. The bible is evidence of that. In Scripture we have everything we need. His Spirit leads and guides us in that. 

A.A. Maclaren spoke about the need we have for nothing other than the Spirit of God. “Nothing short of a Spirit of life, quick and powerful, with an immortal and intense energy, will avail to meet the need. Such a Spirit must give the life which it possesses, must quicken and bring into action dormant powers in the spirit that it would free. It must implant new energies and directions, new motives, desires, tastes, and tendencies. It must bring into play mightier attractions to neutralize and deaden existing ones; as when to some chemical compound a substance is added which has a stronger affinity for one of the elements, a new thing is made.” 

We have to change our mindset. There is a way of thinking that leads to death and a way of thinking that leads to life. You may know people on both paths. Learn from them. 

Can I also plug the church real quick? One of the most threatened doctrines of our day. People don't see a need to be in church. This book of Romans is written to a church and was to be read by the church. When you read this passage, look at the word “you.” Every time you see that word, I want you to know that in Greek it is the plural form of you. The verbs are all in the second person plural. “You all.” It is not individuals being impacted but a community. The church is a community of people seeking to be changed by the renewing work of Jesus Christ. The church is not perfect, but it is for people who are taking seriously the struggle. The church is the place God’s people are gathered together to hear the word read and taught, and seek to bring their lives under the rule of Christ. 

We need others that are living with this mindset to pull us along, encourage us, feed us.

  • Submitted to Christ.

[7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.

submit, bring under the control of another. Mind of the flesh refuses to do that. No, I'm not going to submit to God's law. I'm not going to love my neighbor. I'm not going to deny myself. I’m not going to let what a book says dictate how i related to others. 

[13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 

That denies a universal atonement. There is a condition that must be met. 

Either in Christ Jesus or you are not in Christ Jesus. 

Either condemned or you are not condemned. 

Either controlled by the Spirit or you have your mind on the flesh. 

Mind on death or mind on life and peace. 

Controlled by the spirit of God or by the sinful nature. 

Either you have submitted to Christ or you have not. Either you are submitting to the Spirit or you are not. 

April 9, 1865, was one of the last battles of the American Civil War. General Lee launched a last-ditch attack against the Union forces, hoping the Union force surrounding him consisted of lightly armed cavalry, but when he realized that the cavalry was backed up by two corps infantry, he had no choice but to surrender.

The surrender documents were signed at Appomattox Courthouse. The ceremony of a parade and stacking of arms marked the disbandment of his army. Nearly 28,000 remaining officers and men were free to return home without their major weapons, men could take their horses and officers retain their sidearms (swords and pistols). The war ended and the event triggered a series of subsequent surrenders across the South.

It was a formal surrender and had widespread and ongoing effects. When we surrender to Christ it begins to change everything about us. It is a declaration of what is most important and what we have decided to live for. 

It was not a fuzzy and uncertain certainty, I kind of did, mainly, mostly. They would not let Lee off like that. To allow him to get away with that would effectively allow him to go on unsubmitted. 

A lot of people come to me wanting to overcome anxiety and worry. Have you submitted your life to Christ? No, then you are still trying to control everything, you are rejecting his help, you are living with second rate solutions. 

Is Jesus your Lord or is he not? Are you trusting in him or are you not? We will love you regardless, but you have to be honest with yourself and others. Start there and then live a daily surrender. 

Write down: I am/am not submitted to Christ. 

What next: Do you want to better, to know him. Great. You can be honest where you are at. Let us know what we can do.