Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST”

Romans 8.8-11 

God saved me on March 31, 1974, at about 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning after He showed me from reading Exodus chapter twelve and wondering about the Passover lamb that Jesus Christ was 

“the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” 

The next day I began attending a Bible study at work. The next Saturday night I began attending a huge interdenominational worship service in Long Beach which purported to focus on the Person and the ministries of the Holy Spirit of God. They called it Shekinah Fellowship.

Let me tell you; those services were the most wonderful and the most glorious and emotionally appealing services I have ever experienced in my life. The choruses were worshipful and moving. The atmosphere was electric. The preaching was dynamic. There was only one, slight problem. The truths on which those services were constructed were not truths. I’d read in the Bible where the Lord Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would guide His disciples into all truth.[1] I reasoned, if what is said and what is taught is not true then the Holy Spirit is not involved in the process. Amen? No matter how wonderful. No matter how moving. No matter how worshipful things may seem. For where the Holy Spirit moves and works there is truth. You can understand my dilemma. A brand new baby Christian attending a worship service that is both appealing and exciting, but which stands on, and in which are taught, things which simply do not agree with the Bible.

That’s very much how things stand today. There are many Churches which have great music. There are many Churches which have dynamic preaching. There are many Churches which have practical and appealing outreach ministries to every section of society. But if an individual congregation is not striving to live up to the Biblical standard of being “the pillar and ground of the truth” then all those who attend, regardless of how regularly they get their fancy tickled, are wasting their time and not honoring God as they should.

In our desire to carefully examine Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome we now come to Romans 8.8-11, a text which speaks very forcefully to a question which divides the Christian community in our country today. You might remember me saying, both last week and the week before last, that Romans 8.1-11 is a paragraph in which Paul strongly declares that the Spirit of God has delivered the believer in Jesus Christ from sin. And he does this by showing the Spirit’s deliverance as it relates to condemnation, in verses 1-4, by showing the Spirit’s deliverance as it relates to the believer’s mind, in verses 5-7, and today by showing the Spirit’s deliverance as it relates to God, in verses 8-11.

Before we go any farther, allow me to point something out to you. Our goal at this time is to come to realize how the Holy Spirit of God’s deliverance of believers is related to God. But what we will also see very clearly through the course of an examination of these four verses is the answer to the question which divides what is known as the Charismatic and Pentecostal and Roman Catholic movements of Christendom from those who are not Charismatic or Pentecostal in their theology of the Holy Spirit. Back to that later. I invite you to take your Bible and stand as you turn to Romans 8.8-11: 

8  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

9  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

10  And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

11  But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 

To achieve his goal of showing the Spirit’s deliverance of believers from sin as it relates to God, Paul makes two contrasting declarations: 

First, HE MAKES A DECLARATION ABOUT THOSE WHO ARE “IN THE FLESH” 

There can be no doubt from even the most cursory reading of Romans chapter 8 that those who are “in the flesh” refers, in context, to those who do not know Jesus Christ as their personal savior, those who are dead in trespasses and sins, those who are lost, those who are unbelievers, as other portions of God’s Word would describe them. That being understood, what does Paul declare about those who are “in the flesh” in Romans 8.8? 

“So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” 

They “cannot please God.” Passing completely by the question of whether an unbeliever would or would not please God if he could, Paul declares that such a point is moot. The fact is, lost people cannot please God. They cannot serve Him. They cannot worship Him. They cannot intentionally glorify Him. They cannot honor Him. Nothing that anyone who does not know Jesus Christ can either say or do will ever satisfy or please God in any way.

And what does this have to do with the question of the Holy Spirit’s deliverance from sin? It has very much to do with the question. The fact that the person who is “in the flesh” cannot please God is testimony sufficient that the person who is “in the flesh” has not been delivered from anything. He stands condemned in the sight of God. He yet abides under God’s wrath. 

THAT SAID, PAUL NEXT MAKES A SERIES OF DECLARATIONS ABOUT THOSE WHO ARE “IN THE SPIRIT” 

There are four declarations. Actually, each one being what grammarians would refer to as a condition of the first class, an unequivocal assertion which affirms the reality of what is being said. Let’s look at each of these declarations so you can see for yourself how the Bible answers the question, “Is every believer in Christ indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, or does the Holy Spirit come into a believer’s life sometime after he trusts Christ?” But more important than that, notice how the Holy Spirit’s influence on our relationship with God affects our deliverance from sin.

Declaration number one is found at the beginning of verse 9: 

“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” 

This conditional statement is a slight variation from the norm in that what is called the main clause or the fulfillment clause comes before the so-called “if” clause instead of after it. What does our context tell us about this statement? The whole chapter is descriptive of the Christian’s life. And in verse 12 Paul specifically refers to his readers as “brethren.” So, besides the fact that the construction of this sentence is the construction of a conditional statement of the first class, asserting a truth or a fact, Paul is saying something about believers. “If so be,” or since, the Spirit of God dwells in you. This is the “if” part of the conditional statement. But since it’s a first-class statement, and asserts a fact, we can properly paraphrase the “if so be” phrase with the word “since.” “Since the Holy Spirit dwells in you,” Paul says to his readers, “it can be concluded that you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit.” Two things to take note of here: First, Paul assumes that believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. He doesn’t declare that they are in this sentence. He assumes it. Second, by being indwelt by the Holy Spirit, one is not “in the flesh,” but “in the Spirit.” Digest that for a second. What determines whether I am “in the Spirit” or “in the flesh” is the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life, not how I feel at any particular moment.

Declaration number two is the second sentence of verse 9: 

“Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” 

Remember, since this is a conditional statement of the first class an assertion is being made. And the assertion is made that anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ is not Christ’s. That means anyone who does not have the Holy Spirit is lost. Understand that it wasn’t always that way. There is no Scripture that tells us that Abraham was indwelt by the Holy Spirit, yet he was a genuine believer. And you will remember from John 20.22 that the disciples were not indwelt by the Holy Spirit until after Christ’s resurrection, though they were all believers except Judas Iscariot. Though the Lord does not change, His ways of dealing with His people do change. And whereas there was a time in God’s dealings with men that believers did not immediately receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit when they trusted Christ, by the time Paul writes his letter to the Romans they most certainly did. So, from the time of Paul’s letter to the Romans onward, as verified by Paul’s prison epistles written from Rome, only those who were not saved did not have the indwelling Spirit of Christ. What, then, do we know from these two declarations in Romans 8.9? First, we know that we are “in the Spirit” because we are indwelt by the Spirit of God. Second, we know that we are indwelt by the Spirit of God as a result of being believers since only unbelievers have not the Spirit.

Declaration number three, verse 10: 

“And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” 

In this third example of a conditional statement of the first class, we have another twist. We have one “if” or “since” clause and two main clauses or fulfillment clauses. First, the “if” clause or the “since” clause states that Christ is in you. Remember, Paul is writing to believers. And remember that since Christ is physically at the right hand of the Father, Paul is using metaphorical language here.[2] Christ literally indwells believers through the ministry of the Holy Spirit rather than being physically present in our hearts. But, predicated on the fact that Christ metaphorically indwells these believers, what conclusions are to be drawn? There are two: First, the body is dead because of sin. Second, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But what do these two conclusions mean? Without going into the complex reasonings of the whys and wherefores, allow me to state my personal beliefs regarding what these two conclusions mean: First, the body is dead because of sin. I am of the opinion that Paul is referring to the believer’s physical mortality. “Look, believer, because of sin that part of your being which is physical is doomed to death.” That’s a negative which we see and live with every day. But notice how much that negative is overbalanced by the second conclusion. The Spirit is life because of righteousness. “As a result of the righteousness which we have in Christ, the Spirit of God still indwells us.” Let’s summarize again. First, since the Spirit of God dwells in us, we are not in the flesh but in the Spirit. Second, since we are believers, we are indwelt by the Spirit of God. And now, since Christ is in us, even though we presently live in a mortal body which will likely experience physical death should Christ not come soon, the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit still means that we have eternal life because we are righteous in the sight of God. Do you now see why it’s such a big deal whether or not believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit as soon as they are saved and not at some time later? But that’s not all.

The final declaration is in verse 11: 

“But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” 

Let me remind you one more time about this conditional statement of the first class. Because it’s the assertion of a fact or truth and not really a hypothetical situation at all, it’s very reasonable and proper to paraphrase the word “if” by the word “since.” With that in mind, allow me to paraphrase the first part of the verse: “But since the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you....” Who raised Jesus Christ up from the dead? God. And this tells us that the Spirit of Him Who did that dwells in us. In other words, God’s Spirit dwells in us. Notice how Paul ties the Trinity into to this, by mentioning all three Persons of the Godhead? Indwelt folks are in the Spirit. Right? And we know we are indwelt because we are believers. And even though we indwelt, people live in mortal bodies that will die we still have life through this indwelling Spirit. Right? Well, now. Paul tells us that since this Spirit Who indwells you is also the same Spirit of the One Who raised Jesus Christ from the dead, first part of verse 11, “he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you,” last half of verse 11. In other words, the Spirit of the same One Who raised up Christ from the dead indwells you and me who believe. So don’t think that the fact that your physical body will die someday is any impediment to God. Jesus Christ died, and God raised Him. Amen? So this same God, Who has the same Spirit in you that was in Christ, will do for you what He did for His Son. He will raise you from the dead. He will quicken your mortal bodies. And He’ll do it by this Holy Spirit Who lives in you. Do you see why it’s so important to recognize the truth that all believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit from the moment they become believers? It’s because the Holy Spirit is our guarantee, our assurance, our proof, the means by which we shall be gloriously raised from the dead. And that, my friend, is deliverance from sin if ever there was such a thing. 

Because the Word of God is so clear in its declaration that every single believer in Jesus Christ is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, I could no longer in good conscience allow myself to be taught that which was so obviously false as a young believer in Christ. I had to stop going to that Saturday night worship service, even though it was thrilling, and even though it was exciting, and even though it was emotionally fulfilling. I simply could not be a good steward by allowing myself to be taught and influenced by those who were so wrong on so important a subject as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in believers. As Proverbs 19.27 declares, 

“Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.” 

I did not realize for quite some time how I protected myself from other forms of doctrinal error by insisting that those who teach me teach me only the truth. But it goes almost hand in hand that those who believe that some Christians do not have the Holy Spirit almost always believe, as well, that believers can lose their salvation. If you know Jesus Christ, you are saved and secure forevermore. His deliverance from sin of the believer will be accomplished by that most competent Executor of His will the Holy Spirit of God, Who indwells you at this very moment who believe in Jesus Christ.

Do you not feel indwelt by the Holy Spirit? No matter. There are these great circumstantial evidences of His wonderful presence in your life. First, you are no longer under condemnation. Second, your very mind has been affected by His presence and His deliverance. And today we learned that He will so powerfully deliver you from sin that when your body experiences physical death, He will raise you from the dead as He raised Jesus from the dead. That, my friend, is real deliverance.

But suppose you are here, and you are not delivered from the condemnation of sin? Suppose you are here and your mind has not been radically affected by the Holy Spirit, and you think like and side with lost people in both your lifestyle and your affections. And finally, suppose you derive no comfort about your future from this passage we’ve studied. You’re still not sure that when you die, you’ll go to heaven.

If that is a fairly accurate description of you, then I would invite you to consider the distinct possibility that you are lost and have not been delivered from sin by the Holy Spirit.

What you need is Jesus Christ as your Savior.

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[1] John 16.13

[2] Psalm 16.11; 110.1; Matthew 26.64; Mark 12.36; 14.62; 16.19; Luke 20.42; 22.69; John 3.13; 13.1; 14.2-4; Acts 1.9-11; 2.33, 34-35; 7.56; Romans 8.34; Ephesians 1.20; 6.9; Colossians 3.1; Second Thessalonians 1.7; Hebrews 1.3, 13; 8.1; 9.24; 10.12-13; 12.2; 1 Peter 3.22; Revelation 19.11

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