Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Devotions - A Contrast

Good morning. I apologize that I am doing this on the run this morning. We are looking at a few verses in Romans 8.

You will recall from yesterday how Paul described the sense of powerlessness over the sin in us. Our natural state is one of slavery to the sin nature we were born with. But Paul described it as something that is in us but that is not us. This means our Father had created us with a different design but sin had distorted that design. We are slaves to that sin and cannot do what we want to do because of it. Now look at how Paul begins this next section, the nest step in the unfolding gospel of grace:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. vv 1-2

The incredible news is that, even though we deserved to be destroyed because of this sin in us, this defect to God's perfect design, our Father put a rescue plan in play that we would be able to be restored to him. Where we were condemned before there is now no condemnation for those of us who have been reborn into Jesus. We live because we live in him.

Now where Paul had previously concentrated on our condition without Jesus he launches into the contrast between those with the Spirit and those without:

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. vv. 5-8

Notice what Paul had said in the previous sections is now illustrated here. We are a creation that is not meant to stand on our own. Paul said that we are either slaves to sin or slaves to God's righteousness. We see it here. We are either controlled by sin or controlled by the Spirit there is no other choice. The contrast is found in the benefits. Notice that the sinful mind cannot submit to God's law. Again building on the idea of the previous section that in order to be obedient we must be alive in Jesus and dead to our former selves. There is no other way.

The greatest benefit to accepting Jesus' sacrifice for us is that we end our separation from our Father and are restored to him:

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 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, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. vv. 12-16

The notion of sonship is different these days. Much of society has done away with the notion of obedience and allegiance to family and especially dads. Sonship under our heavenly Father brings with it the obligation to be obedient to the Father's will. It is what we live for, our greatest desire. It is seen in the example Jesus set for us, a life of obedience according to whatever the Father requires of us. This happens with the transformation. Our obligation is an obligation of love not fear, "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear", instead we have become sons who obey out of love, and love has obligations.

I wish I had more time to get into this further but this is enough to plant a seed for you today. I trust the Spirit to take this seed and cause it to grow in you today, driving out any fear and doubt that remains in you.

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