Romans 8—Led By The Spirit

Romans not the easiest or shortest of Paul’s letters, I don’t think I would be too far off calling it the most challenging of the epistles and the second most challenging of the New Testament books. I avoided and dreaded it, saying I hated it. It is not good to hate any part of the bible especially if one like me is an evangelical protestant and even more so hope to be a pastor someday. So, I decided to wrestle with Romans and share my findings. I mean this to be a good thing for both the reader, and myself yet I am coming to see that this is becoming more and more comforting and troubling. Yes, both!

I am not giving up. I intend to keep plugging away. I do pray this will be good, challenging, comforting, and troubling.

We have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 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. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. (Romans 8:12-14)

Paul has us in a headlock. He is not letting us go. He won’t let up. He means for us to hear God’s word and not just to hear it, but put it into practice.

You are not bound by your old selfish life. There is nothing, nothing at all in it for you. Let it go! The way you were is yesterday’s news. Abide in God’s love and shape your by that and not the old ways. Kill it, bury it, and get on with your new life. Your new life in and through Christ, the life God beckons you to. God is calling you from the old ways into new life. God is not doing to hurt you but to bless you to give you his divine love and life.

The body is not evil. Sin originates in the heart our spiritual center living in physical bodies sin finds expression through the body. Sin is manifested in and through our physical self. When we hate, ignore, get angry, are arrogant, or commit adultery our bodies do this. Yet, it is not our bodies but our hearts that have strayed. Therefore, not only inward, but also outward expressions, sin must be put to death, terminated, done away with.

One of my favorite Christian songs sing about this very topic we are exploring.  It talks about what the world needs. The world doesn’t need another one-hit wonder with an axe to grind, another two-bit politician peddling lies, another three-ring circus society. The world doesn’t need another sign-waving ‘Super Saint’ who’s better than you, another ear-pleasing candy man afraid of the truth, another prophet in an Armani suite. The world does need a savior who will rescue, a spirit who will lead, a father who will love them in their time of need.

We don’t inauthentic people claiming to be more than they are not owing up their shortcomings. We all have shortcomings. We all have done things that we regret. Super and over religious people are just phonies, so that would be the least thing the world needs. Just because you are all dressed up and smell good doesn’t make something special. Recently, I was at a church service and the man sitting in the pew in front of me was all prettied up, three-piece suit, shiny shoes the whole ten yards. From the outside, he looked good, as if he had it all together. Yet every time my pastor spoke of God’s free grace saving and making a way to God, he violently shook his head. I was afraid he was going to get whiplash. It seems to me that he believes that he can get it done himself with God’s free love and grace.

The song I am highlighting is about to point to the truth. This line is pertinent to our bible text.

What this world needs is for us to care more about the inside than the outside. Have we become so blind that we can’t see God’s gotta change your heart before he changes a shirt.

There it is.

It is God not us that changes us, changes us from the inside out. God changes our heart and makes us who He has created us to be. There are things we can do to be more open to God’s grace. Grace is a refining fire that makes us who we were always meant to be.  God’s grace wipes away the past, preparing us for eternal life.

We should stay open to God’s grace, even when we struggle and are going through darkness we need to stay open to God. It is usually in our trails that we change the most, not to say that God sends the bad into our life, but that He can and will use our struggles and suffering to make us all that we can be in Christ. If we seem to be going through a hard time, it could be then that God is refining you for glory, so don’t shut down or turn away keep going.

We are children of God and this is not our doing, so don’t have to worry that we could lose it. Our identity as children of God is from God’s grace and Jesus work. Today, take a hold of your inheritance with Christ. All debts are canceled, you are a new person, a child of God and God’s spirit has witnessed this adoption and new creation.

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