“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. (13) For if ye live after the flesh – ye shall die; but, if ye – through the Spirit – do mortify the deeds of the body – ye shall live. (14) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God – they are the sons of God. (15) For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear – but ye have received the Spirit of adoption – whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (16) The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit – that we are the children of God…” [Ro.8:12-16]
We noted last month the two contrasting realities that in one way or the other describes each one of us – in that all people — are either “being led away with the error of the Wicked” [2Pe.3;17] or, they are among the “as many as are led by the Spirit of God” [Ro.8:14]. This gives us the “big picture”! And, I think we all know in which group we want to be found. Therefore, let’s concentrate on the Ro.8:12-16 portion of scripture which describes in more detail all of us who – by God’s sovereign grace – are being led by the Holy Spirit of God through the darkness of this law-cursed and fallen world — directly into an holy and heavenly eternity.
Vs.13 draws a conclusion from what has been presented from Ro.8:1-12. It says: “we are debtors”. But, to whom exactly are we indebted? And, more importantly, do we even possess the capability to remit ourselves from the debt that we owe? Well, as far as the first question is concerned, the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul identifies who it is that we are indebted to in two ways. First, by how he addresses us. He calls us, “brethren” – or, in other words, we are his fellow family members in Christ. And second, the Spirit through Paul dogmatically eliminates our being indebted to ourselves – or, to our own fallen fleshly nature of thinking and living! This is explicitly described in vs.5-11. We are not debtors to think and walk according to our fallen-in-sin flesh. For if we think and walk in accordance to the flesh – it is certain we shall die! [see vs.6] But – all praise and glory to God – if we, through thinking and walking in accordance to the influence and power of the Holy Spirit – and, by Him, do mortify [or, put to death] the sinful deeds of the body of our flesh – then we shall live! [see vs.6] This is precisely in conjunction with our being led through this passing-away-world by the Holy Spirit. It is thinking and living by the leading of the Spirit of God – that identifies us as truly being the children of God! This is exactly the message that’s declared from vs.14. And, this gives a dogmatic “No” answer to the second question above in regards to whether or not we even possess the capability – from ourselves and for ourselves – to remit ourselves from the debt that we owe. Beloved – therefore — behold the manifestation of whom it is that we are obviously forever indebted to – that One to whom we owe the eternal salvation of our very souls! We are forever indebted to the Spirit of Christ, our God!
Vs.15 descriptively declares that we have not received – from our loving and gracious Savior/God “the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of Adoption – whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”! This is a particularly significant blessing that signifies that one has been eternally and assuredly included in the eternally accomplished atonement. The atonement that has been perfectly performed by the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ! That which is presented here in Ro.8 up to this verse — and on through vs.16 – is the same theme as presented to us from Gal.4:4-7 (check it out).
How is it, then, that we come to know that we are among all those whom Christ has eternally redeemed? “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit – that we are the children of God…” The “Spirit of Adoption” tells us so! Praise His wonderful Name! Thank you, Lord! Amen.
For Christ’s Glory Only!
“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before – beware lest ye also – being led away with the error of the wicked – fall from your own stedfastness.” [2Pe.3:17] “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. (13) For if ye live after the flesh – ye shall die; but, if ye – through the Spirit – do mortify the deeds of the body – ye shall live. (14) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God – they are the sons of God. (15) For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear – but ye have received the Spirit of adoption – whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” [Ro.8:12-15]
All who are alive on this earth – in this world – right now – are, one way, or another — being described in these two particular portions of God’s Word. We are either being led away with the error of the wicked, or we are being led by the Spirit of God. Therefore, there are two things we must never lose sight of – or, two things we must never forget: First, we must never forget where it is that we are; and Second, we must remember that we are all being led from here to eternity by one of two influential ways of thinking! In regards to the first premise of where we are – of which we should constantly be conscious — we are in this lost, dark, trial-and-sorrow-filled, sinful and cursed world. Yes, this world truly is (just as Ps.23:4 describes) — “the valley of the shadow of death” – and, we are all – one way or the other — being led through it. And, this world is not our friend.
The context of 2Pe.3:10 describes the firey destruction and end that this fallen-in-sin world is inevitably hastening toward. The Holy Spirit of God, through the apostle Peter, so graphically and explicitly tells us: “But the day of the Lord will come – as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise and the elements shall melt with a fervent heat – the earth also – and the works that are therein – shall be burned up!” This event will take place the same day that the Spirit through John describes from Re.20:11: “And I saw a great white throne – and Him that sat on it – from whose face – the earth and heaven fled away – and there was found no place for them!” This present world has been, and right now is – literally passing away right before our eyes — unto its just and righteous perdition that will most certainly come to pass at the all-glorious and all holy return of the Almighty Lord Jesus Christ.
As true believers and followers of the Lord Jesus, we – by God’s grace – have an unbreakable, eternal relationship with Him. It is Christ – and Christ alone – that will get us safely through the dark and evil “death-valley” of this world! Praise His wonderful Name, what is descriptively declared from 1Jn.5:19 rings completely true for us: “And we know – that we are of God – (lit.) and the whole world – in the Wicked One lies.” It is no wonder why 1Jn.2:15-17 imperatively warns us to: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world – the love of the Father is not in him. (16) For all that is in the world – the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father, but is of the world! (17) And the world passeth away – and the lust thereof – but he that doeth the will of God – abideth forever.”
It is the way of this world to think of, and bring in, a New Year with a spirit of revelry and riotous activity. But, this is the common way of wantonness in which the Wicked One leads his captives! Nevertheless, let us, by the Holy Spirit of grace remember and heed His divine exhortation: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, immovable – always abounding in the work of the Lord – forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain – in the Lord.” [1Co.15:58]
For Christ’s Glory Only! – John Carpenter
“And without controversy, great is the mystery of Godliness: God was manifest in the flesh…”“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…”“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God – sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: (4) that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us – who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”“But when — the fulness of the time was come – God sent forth His Son – made of a woman, made under the law, (5) to redeem them that were under the law – that we might receive the adoption of sons. (6) And because ye are sons – God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” [1Ti.3:16; Jn.1:14; Ro.8:3-4; Ga.4:4-6]
Each one of these scripture references descriptively declares the single most significant and most wonderful occurrence in the whole of the history of fallen-in-sin humanity! An event that would be completely constructed and perfectly performed by the eternal, all-powerful and all-constraining love and grace of God! “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son” [Jn.3:16] This marks the historical event that would be God’s fulfillment of His promise that there would come into fallen humanity the “Seed of the woman” – who would crush the head of the Serpent. The revelatory reality of the incorruptible Seed of the Word of the Truth of the everlasting gospel is that this “Seed of the woman” would be the holy incarnation into “the likeness of sinful flesh” of the eternal and almighty Son of God! We know Him from our sin-poisoned history as the holy Savior — our Lord Jesus Christ! 1Jn.3:8 announces unto us: “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested – that He might destroy the works of the devil.”
It was the wicked evil plan and purpose of the subtlety of Satan to surreptitiously corrupt – and thereby kill — along with Adam and Eve – all their children as well! And, at first sight, it seemed that he had successfully done it! For the Word of God says: “For as in Adam – all die” [1Co.15:22] “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” [Ro.3:23] And, “For the wages of sin is death…” [Ro.6:23] Therefore, do each of these descriptive declarations include every single fallen-in-sin person that makes up the whole progeny of Adam and Eve!
Nevertheless, 700+ years before the actual birth of Christ, the same Word of God foretold these words: “But thou Bethlehem – Ephratah(!) – though thou be little among the thousands of Judah yet out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been of old – from everlasting!” [Mic.5:2] The word, “Ephratah” means: Fruitful. The announcement that the Holy Spirit makes through His prophet, Micah, is that in the little town of Bethlehem there would be born and come forth — the eternal Fruit of the incarnation into the likeness of sinful flesh – the eternal Son of God. He would be the promised “Seed of the woman” who would also be the eternal sovereign Savior Son of man. He would come from eternity into the history of fallen humanity in “the fullness of time” to fulfill God’s perfect purpose. He is the one whom we know as the Lord Jesus Christ – the King of kings and the Lord of lords! He is the one whom we also come to know as being our sovereign, Savior Substitute! His life and death and resurrection has made for us a holy and perfect redemptive propitiation for our sinful souls! The Word of God descriptively declares: “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus – who, of God – is made unto us – wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption – that according as it is written: he that glorieth – let him glory (only) in the Lord.” [1Co.1:30-31] If it’s not all Christ – it’s all wrong! Praise His Holy all-glorious Name!
For Christ’s Glory Only!
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus – who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (3) For what the law could not do – in that it was weak through the flesh – God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh — and for sin – condemned sin in the flesh: (4) that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us – who walk not after the flesh – but after the Spirit.” [Ro.8:1-4]
What a truly grand statement of the word of the truth of the gospel of God’s great grace this portion of scripture proves to be! It more than merits yet another thoughtful consideration. Why? Because it descriptively declares the undeniable evidence of what Christ’s holy work – of His holy walk of life – in and through this unholy world – has eternally accomplished – for all those which have been placed in Him. The blessed holy work of the Triune Savior/God – works out – works in – and works through all those which this text declares are in Christ Jesus – a most wonderful eternally saving miracle. It is this work that has produced not only their eternal standing before Him – but their personal and individual walk through this sinful, fallen world. A walk following after the blessed Holy Spirit of God. What a wonderful gospel declaration!
Dear ones, this is the special spiritual experience that we should earnestly be praying to be made apparent – not only in and from our own lives – but also in and from the lives of each other. For this is the description of the vibrant and living relationship that the eternal Savior Son of God enters into with each one of His true believers. This is what being genuinely born from above produces in a sinner. They are daily – even hourly – being successfully and effectually led by His Holy Spirit – through this world of the “valley of the shadow of death” – all the way — into the heavenly bliss-filled reality of the Savior’s blessed eternal presence.
It is our “walk after” – or, according to – the Holy Spirit of Christ our God – that becomes the manifestation of our having been – by God’s grace alone – completely redeemed and remitted from the dreaded eternal, but just, condemnation of “the law of sin and death”. Which law — rules and reigns over our ever present – in this world — sinful flesh. Why is this true? Because we, by the grace of the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ, walk anew — according to “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus”! It is this that brings to pass the reality of the living proof of the written statement of God from Ro.6:14, which says: “For sin shall not have dominion over you – for you are not under the law – but under grace!” And, its all because of the eternal accomplishment of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ! Praise His Holy Name!
This, in turn, is why the apostle is inspired by the Holy Spirit to explain unto us that which he does in vs.3-4> “For what the law [of sin and death] could not do – in that it is weak through the flesh [i.e. our sinful flesh] — God – sending His own Son – in the likeness of [our] sinful flesh – and – for sin, condemned sin in the flesh [i.e. His flesh] (4) that the righteousness of the law [of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus] might be fulfilled in us [who are in Christ, and] who [as a result of His Holy work] walk not after [or, according to] the flesh, but after [or, according to] the Spirit.”
There are even more distinguishing details delivered in Ro.8:5-13 that graphically demonstrate the striking difference between these two. It is these differences that serve to lend weight to the context of Ro.8:14: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God!” Amen.
For Christ’s Glory Only!
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus – who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (3) For what the law could not do – in that it was weak through the flesh – God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh (4) that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” [Ro.8:1-4]
Unto whom are the wonderful words of the first phrase of this section of holy scripture being addressed? The answer is: To everyone that is included in the group; “to them which are in Christ Jesus”. This, in turn, begs an answer to two more questions: What exactly does it mean to be, “in Christ Jesus”? And, just how exactly are we included in that group? The answer to all three of these questions is the very substance of the gospel of the glory, only, of the Lord Jesus Christ – the only sovereign, Savior, substitute that there ever was – is – or, ever will be!
The first phrase of 1Co.1:30 explicitly and descriptively declares: “But, of Him (i.e. God) are ye in Christ Jesus”. Or, more literally it is saying: “But, by His doing – are ye in Christ Jesus”. Eph.1:3-4 echoes this reality in the way it describes God the Father. It says: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (4) according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world – that we should be holy and without blame before Him – in love” (which is a more graphic way of saying that we have no condemnation in Christ Jesus). This same Ephesian passage also tells how it is that we have been included among all those that are being referred to in the phrase: “to them which are in Christ Jesus”. We were included in this group by our heavenly Father who blessed us – not only with the spiritual blessing of our being placed and eternally positioned in Christ, but also with our being blessed with ALL the other additional spiritual blessings that go along with being placed in Christ! Plus, this text even reveals to us — how and when — all this took place! It says: “According as He hath chosen us in Him – before the foundation of the world”. Wow! Praise the Lord! So, therefore, according to God’s Word – He chose us in Christ – He placed us in Christ – and, furthermore, He graciously blessed us with – not just one or two of His spiritual blessings, but – All of His spiritual blessings in Christ, our Savior! (which include His: “wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption”[the rest of 1Co.1:30])
Next, let’s focus on the last two words of vs.4 – “in love”. The Word of God from Jer.31:3 reveals to us: “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with – an everlasting love. Therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Hence, these two words at the end of Eph.1:4 must refer to this same eternal love — God’s eternal love! This is the personal, individual love that God has, first of all, for His beloved, darling, eternal Son – and, second of all, for each and everyone of His eternally loved, chosen and placed positionally in – His Son! Take heed to how Jesus prayed to His Father the night before He bore our sins to Calvary: Jn.17:23-26: “I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (24) Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me – for thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world. (25) O righteous Father… (26) I have declared unto them thy Name – and will declare it – that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them – and I in them.” Grant us Lord, by thy grace, to receive this wonderful truth!
-For Christ’s Glory Only!
“Jesus answered: Verily, verily, I say unto thee – except a man be born of water and of the Spirit – he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” “There is therefore now – no condemnation – to them which are in Christ Jesus – who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus – hath made me free — from the law of sin and death.(3) For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh – and for sin – condemned sin in the flesh (4) that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us – who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” [Jn.3:5; Ro.8:1-4]
The reason these two texts are referenced together is because there is a cohesive connection between them. Jn.3:5 comes to us from the conversation of Nicodemus and Jesus. Jesus declares salvation to Nicodemus, “a master/teacher of Israel” (3:10). And, this is the very first context that the expression “born again” (3:3) is used; and, it is significant that it is first used by none other than Christ. The term, “born” means: to be regenerated; whereas, the word used for “again” can be more accurately translated as: from above. We all are (or, at least, we all ought to be) very interested in just exactly what this truly means. The Lord says without this birth occuring in our personal lives – we can neither “see” (or perceive, 3:3), nor “enter”, the Kingdom of God!
Jesus specifically tells Nicodemus from Jn.3:5 that being born again (or, more lit., born from above) means to be born “of water and of the Spirit”. “Water” is scripturally related to the Holy Word of God in Eph.5:26 where the gospel is proclaimed by relating how Christ so loved “the Church” that He gave Himself for it – “that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water (lit.) in the Word”. Additionally, Jesus from Jn.17:2 says of all His saved ones: “Now ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you.” It is no wonder that the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to write what is written in Titus 3:5-6: “not by (or, not out of) works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy – He saved us – by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit (6) which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior.” And, also, James – by the same Holy Spirit – writes from Jas.1:18: “Of His own will – He begat us (or, He caused us be born again) with the Word of Truth”.
But, how do we know that this all important “born from above” – genuine spiritual experience – has indeed happened to us? We know – by the same means that we have been referring to: by the Holy Spirit and the holy Word of God. Jesus, the only begotten, dearly beloved, eternal Son of God – is the living Word of God! When Jesus announced that He (and God the Father) would send to us the Holy Spirit to specifically fulfill the revealing unto us the things concerning Himself i.e. the eternal accomplishments of Christ as the only sovereign, Savior, substitute that there ever was, is or ever will be – He told us: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of me” “He shall glorify me – for He shall receive of mine – and shall show it (or, shall announce it; shall reveal it) unto you. (15) All things that the Father hath are mine – therefore said I – that He shall take of mine and shall show it unto you.” [Jn.14:36; 16:14-15.
And, the things that the Holy Spirit will reveal unto us – are the more-than-marvelous things that are declared in Ro.8:1-4! These are things that pertain to our walk through this fallen world. You can read of them for yourselves. May the Spirit lead you to do so. May He teach you what great things are being said here. More than that, may you also realize the living truth of them. Amen.
For Christ’s Glory Only!