Here we discover what the Cross is all about. It is about the life that Jesus died to give all those who by faith make Him their life. It requires a turning away from our self, our sin, our flesh and embracing Jesus Christ as our Lord, our Life, our Savior.
By faith in what Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross, we are justified by God. We are declared righteous, we are declared His children. By faith, the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus shed upon the world at Pentecost, comes and makes us His dwelling place. We are set apart for God’s purpose.
Coming to the Cross and accepting Jesus as your Savior means that you will now live by the cross. We must take up our cross daily, and just as Jesus humbled Himself as a servant, so we must humble ourselves before Almighty God and take up the cross He has given to us.
We have this assurance from the Master himself, that we will not bear our cross alone. In fact, our cross becomes easy and light, as long as we realize that He carries it for us. For the cross means that we no longer live, in fact our old man is dead, and the life that we now live, we live by Jesus Christ.
This is the message of Romans, and Romans 8 reveals what it means to be a Christian. Romans 8 is the insider’s guide to the Christian Life. The Christian Life is all about walking after the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit communicates and manifests Jesus Christ in our lives. Romans 8 details our New Life in the Holy Spirit.
1. The Holy Spirit Joins us to Christ
“He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17);
It is a spiritual and inward union with the Lord Jesus. This is what Romans 8:1-2 describes:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2
When we are born again, the Holy Spirit joins us to Jesus Christ and we live in the Spirit of Life! God is all about Life, and sin is death. Being joined to Jesus means we are no longer under condemnation, no longer under the penalty of sin, no longer under the judgment of death, separated from Holy God by all eternity in Hell.
You and I, if we are truly born-again children of God, have got to know that, right inside of us, a union has been effected between Christ and ourselves, and ourselves and Christ; that we are joined to Christ. That union has been affected; we have been made one.
No more me, but We!
The Lord’s way of illustrating this truth is the marriage union. Paul says, “the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:31, 32). ‘One flesh’. Just as married couples, we are made “one flesh” with Jesus Christ.
Now, if a marriage is what it ought to be, those two people are so ONE, that to separate them is to cut one person in two, and only leave two halves, and not a whole. This explains how death can leave a spouse so empty, so alone, as if part of them is gone. This explains how even years later, divorce can leave an ugly scar upon ones soul.
That is the illustration of our union with Christ. We are not complete until we are united with Christ; our completeness is in union with Christ.
If we do not have Christ with us, we are only half here. If we lose the Lord, we are torn in two. Jesus is that much a part of our lives.
We can – by disobedience, by playing with sin, by disobeying the Lord, by this or that – bring about such an effect, so that we feel as if something has happened; the Lord is there and I am here, and we are not together. It is as though we have been torn in two, are not complete.
This is the beginning of the Christian life; the very foundation and basis of the Christian life:
We and Christ have been made one; not two – one!
Jesus is not our homeboy. He is not someone we go to when things get bad. He is not a good luck charm we wear around our neck. He is not a wristband that says WWJD. We are united as one with the very creator of the universe. This union is a mystery, but it is so real and so powerful that to divide, to walk away and have an independent life – it is to destroy your own identity, to tear your own spiritual personality in pieces; and that is how it is, if we get away from the Lord in any way.
So here, the very first thing that we find about this life in the Spirit, is that there has come about between us and Christ, and between Christ and ourselves, a oneness, which is not in any outward, visible sense, but in a vital, inward reality.
So the first thing is “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (v. 2) – the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus – that is the union: our union with Christ.
2. The Holy Spirit Leads Us
Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. Romans 8:14
When we are joined to Jesus Christ, we are not left to our own abilities. In fact, we must humble ourselves and give all of ourselves to Christ, so that the Holy Spirit will lead us. The operative word is “LED”. He is the leader. It is not a shared responsibility. There can be only one BOSS. This is why Paul wrote that:
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:7-8
To be led by the Spirit we must “walk AFTER the Spirit”
God reveals why we cannot walk after the flesh and why we must walk after the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:29:
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son… Romans 8:29
God has a goal for each one of His children- conformity to the image of His Son.
“Conformed to the image” (summorphous tēs eikonos) means both an inward and an outward likeness. This is no happy fake smile Christian. All that Jesus Christ is we are to be. His loves, concern, his righteousness, his passion for the temple, his compassion for the lost, all are to be ours. It requires more of Him and less of me.
What is being ‘led by the Spirit’? Take the example of Israel.
God came down into Egypt, into the dark world of their bondage and tyranny in Egypt. He came down with His great purpose; He took possession of them; and then He gave them the symbol and figure of the Holy Spirit in the Pillar of Cloud and Fire. Paul says ‘They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud’ (1 Cor. 10:2).
What was the pillar of cloud and fire given for? Well, it is an illustration. It is a type of the Holy Spirit. It was given to lead them into the Land of Promise, where God had intended them to be. He had come down into Egypt, got hold of them, pulled them out, and brought them into the Wilderness for that purpose.
The Spirit was ever moving ahead of them, in the Pillar, to get them into the Land.
That is being “led by the Spirit”. As the Lord said, speaking of His people: “Israel is my son… Let my son go…” (Ex. 4:22, 23). As Paul wrote: ‘Now these are the sons of God, who are led by the Spirit of God’.
However, what does it mean? It means that we are always moving on, ever moving on in the way of the Spirit, leaving the old world further and further behind, and getting nearer and nearer to the heavenly promised land.
- Now, if the Christian life is normal, this is true of the Christian life. This is not something abnormal; this is ‘normal Christian living!
The more you go on with the Lord, the less and less you find it possible to accept this world and to settle down here, and the further you seem to get away from it. Alternatively, it seems to get away from you.
The things of the Lord get nearer and nearer, and more and more engrossing, taking up more and more of your life. You find that, whereas at one time, you could compartmentalize your time, you could spread it out over various things, now you are more and more being absorbed (not obsessed), but absorbed in the things of the Lord; you have no time for other things.
What about your Work?
You go to work, you do your work, you give yourself to your work, you do it honestly… but the thing that has a grip on you inside is the Lord’s interests – what delights the Lord. If you are going on with the Lord, what you want more and more is that which tastes of heaven. Your desire is unto God and His desires.
The Holy Spirit wants to lead us on nearer and nearer to the fullness of Christ.
3. The Holy Spirit brings us to Confidence in our Father
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15
The Holy Spirit opens us up to seeing God as our dearest Daddy, the one who cares for us with unconditional love. We no longer live our lives in fear of what can or might happen. We know that we are in the hands of our dearest Daddy.
God is including us in His plan, and that plan involves us becoming conformed to His Son Jesus Christ.
Many of us have experienced horrible tragedies. Many of us have suffered terrible injustices, abuse. There are many ways we react to such experiences.
We can blame others, we can hold on to our pain and grow bitter, we can become frustrated and angry, and we can lash out and be vengeful. None of these reflects the heart of one who sees his life held in the arms of his dearest Daddy.
Living in the Holy Spirit is a life that is confident in the God’s power and God’s Purpose for your life. Living in the Holy Spirit allows us to believe what Paul wrote: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”. Romans 8:28
4. The Holy Spirit Bears Witness
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, Romans 8:16
The indwelling Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. How does He do it? The Holy Spirit does not constantly speak in our ear, and say: “You know you are a child of God; you are a child of God”.
He says what He does because of our being children of God – that we know it.
We know how others can do certain things that we cannot; there is something that we have in our heart that makes us aware that this is, or this is not, according to the Father’s mind. The simple truth is this – we know: “the Spirit beareth witness”; we know. This joint witness of the Holy Spirit works with the Spirit of Sonship mentioned in verse 15 wherein we cry “Abba Father”. We know we are God’s child.
Bear witness with is summartureō, “to bear joint witness with” some other person, “to bear joint-testimony with” some other person. “Our spirit” refers to the saint’s human spirit energized by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit bears testimony to our human spirit that we are children of God (teknon, without article, thus, children of God by nature), and our Spirit-energized, spirit thus joins the Holy Spirit in a joint-testimony to that fact. Wuest’s Word Studies
Have you gone through such severely bad times that you started to wonder if you are the Lord’s?
I can recall occasions when the Lord Himself definitely held me, or spoke to me, and made me know that this was right, and this was wrong. It was something that I never received from outside; I never got advice, counsel, or anything; but I knew it in myself! ‘You just can’t – no, not now! You just cannot do it.’ It was as real as, or more real than, any audible voice.
What is that, coming right from the inside? That is the Spirit bearing witness with my spirit that I am a child of God. A child of God does not behave like that; a child of God does behave like this; a child of God does not do those things; a child of God does do these things.
The Spirit says: ‘Others can; you cannot; you are a child of God.’
It is very real – the Spirit bearing witness. That is to be the basic law of our Christian life. In addition, every one of you who is a child of God ought to know what I am talking about
This is what it means to be a Christian. It is something real on the inside.
Next, the Holy Spirit, coming inside, has created and constituted a new kind of human being, a different kind of humanity from all the rest of humanity.
5. The Holy Spirit Makes us Different
- He leaves His mark upon us!
- Our focus is different, our understanding is different, out wants are different. Instead of self-focused, we are God focused.
A.We See Purpose in Suffering
And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. Romans 8:17-19
B.We Groan As We Wait For Our Adoption.
And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:23
The difference is not that they have decided to be religious, and to go to meetings, and company with Christian people; do this thing and that thing, and give up a lot of other things – that is not it at all.
Their very being, their very constitution, has been changed; they are different people.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Jesus said: ‘You are from beneath; I am from above’ (John 8:23). That is exactly true of every child of God. We too can say: I am from above: this is no longer my place; this is no longer my home; I am no longer at rest here in this world. I have a new nationality. I have a new country, a new land; here in this world I am just an alien.
That becomes a very real thing to the child of God.
Just as Righteous Lot was vexed by the evilness of Sodom, so too we must always be on guard against the wickedness in this world.
Never try to violate it – never try to be at home in this world. If you do, you will be doing damage to your new constitution – because it is that, you see, that is your testimony. It is not that you try to be different at all. Never try to be different; never pretend to be different. The world can spot phonies.
If the Spirit lives in you, you will be different. That is the mark of the Holy Spirit. If you want any proof of that, you will find that, from the moment of your new birth, the Devil knows you! You are a marked person, just as Christ was a marked man when He was here.
The Spirit coming in makes us different, and it is just that difference that is the basis of everything for the future, for the Holy Spirit wants to use us.
6. The Holy Spirit Gifts Us
With God, it is not a matter of your natural abilities. It is a matter of you allowing the Holy Spirit to work His gift in you and through you.
Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:26-28
The Holy Spirit Intercedes for us. He wants what is best for us! In fact, God uses our weaknesses and even our failures as instruments to build up his body and work to conform each other to Jesus.
Early in my Christian life, I was very conscious of many lacks, deficiencies, and things that I wished I had. I had ambitions and dreams that I was never able to realize. God did not want me to be somebody else. God wanted me to be what the Holy Spirit was gifting me to be.
On the one side, there are many who have very great natural abilities and qualifications, or qualifications acquired through study, but they are not necessarily spiritual people. Moreover, it never does mean – and you can prove this – that, because you have a tremendous background of scholarship, education, or qualification of that kind, you have a special aptitude for grasping spiritual things.
That is a great thing to learn early in the Christian life: it is not what I have, or what I do not have, naturally – the Holy Spirit is qualification for what God wants!
The New Testament speaks of ‘gifts of the Spirit’ and truly, if you allow the Holy Spirit to lead, He will reveal the gift that He has given you. It will motivate your service to Christ. Do take that to your heart. It may be that you are one of the least, and that you feel there is not much hope for you; but, if you have the Holy Spirit, He can and will qualify you for something that is your particular part in the whole.
The Holy Spirit has come to give us something we do not have naturally, and we cannot get naturally – it is the particular equipment of the Holy Spirit. It is never fleshly talent or abilities. It is a gift that is spiritual from the Holy Spirit.!
7. The Holy Spirit Puts us to Work
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30
I want to come to one more very important aspect of this whole matter of the Spirit.
Let us go back to the Old Testament, to the last section of the book of Exodus, which, as you know, contains the whole account of the making of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. In addition, you will know that it was through the Holy Spirit that the whole thing was made, constructed; that the Spirit came upon certain men for that work, and then, under those Spirit-governed men, gathered all the people together. All the people came into action.
While it does not definitely say so, it as good as says that the whole nation was in this business. They were all doing something about it; they all had something to give. Some had linen to give; some had other materials to give; but they all had something. I suppose you could see ‘sewing parties’ all over the camp, and men at work busy at this thing and that – some on wood, some on gold, some on silver, some on brass – all the different materials; everywhere they were occupied with the work, and it was all under the direction and instruction and counsel of Spirit-filled men.
They were all under the government of the Spirit. The Anointing, so to speak, spread itself all over the whole mighty host for work. Now my point is this: the Holy Spirit puts His Body to Work.
Just think, here are some women making a curtain for the Tabernacle. Well, are they going to have their own little ‘tabernacle’ made of their one little curtain, all to themselves? Here are some men making a part of wood, perhaps to be overlaid with gold: is that the Tabernacle? Are they going to have a special little tabernacle of that thing that they are making – a little church of their own? It is nonsense, you see.
All this, by the Spirit, is one thing – it is the Body of Christ at Work.
They are not each living and working for their own little bit, they are living and working for the whole. They have the vision of the whole, and their whole life is taken up with the whole – not with just their little bit as an end in itself. They are living and working for the Tabernacle in completeness. The Holy Spirit has brought them together, and bound them into a oneness. All their work and focus is one, because they are under one Spirit.
8. The Holy Spirit Unites Us
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:31-37
If you and I are really under the government of the Holy Spirit, under the anointing of the Spirit, we shall not have any little private things of our own, any little ‘hole in a corner’ business of ours, any detached and unrelated thing to which we are giving ourselves. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity, and of unity in vocation. What it will amount to, dear friends, is this: we shall live for the whole.
Moreover, if it is a matter of our local relationships – such as here – none of us is to be living other than for the whole: we ought to be living for the complete thing. Our position must be ‘I am not living and working as an individual: I am living and working as a part of a whole. And, in the appointment of God, for the time being, my local ‘whole’ is here, and I am living for that; I work for that; that is my vocation.’
So many people are wondering about their service: wanting to be in the Lord’s work, or to do something for the Lord – some sort of ministry, some sort of work – and to know what their work is; and they are asking: What is my work? What is my ministry? What is my job? It is always ‘my’, ‘my’, ‘my’… The answer is: Your job is ‘they’, is ‘them’.
Your value to God is a related thing. You will find the Holy Spirit coming in and using you when you link yourself on with all the rest, and become part of the whole.
If you keep yourself in any detachment, He may not do anything at all with you; He will just leave you; you will be doing nothing, and be counting for nothing.
You see, we are really in “Ephesians”. “Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, Ephesians 4:1 and the context or Eph 4 all concerns our relationship one to another in our daily walk. We are not to say “this is not my job; this is not your job, as something personal, as if we were not connected to one another.
It is the Church’s job; it is not yours: it is not mine. Whenever people go off on a personal, unrelated, line they become an end in themselves; and when they go, that is the end. The thing started with them, and it finished with them; and now you have to start all over again.
Therefore, we go back to our illustration from the Old Testament. The people found their inspiration, and the Lord’s blessing upon them, as they saw all the time the whole, lived for the whole, and regarded everything, every detail, as a part of the whole. You live for the whole!
In the church you don’t see it through your eyes. You do not let a little matter get you all upset if you are focusing on God’s greater purpose through the WHOLE. You are not in a church for your own interests. Have the whole view of God’s Church, and you will find that the Lord’s blessing is there. There may be difficulties, but the Lord will stand by you; and there will be something that would not be there if you just became a little company by yourselves, in a corner, living for yourselves, turned in on yourselves.
The Christian life is never about you and what you want for yourself. No! That is not the Living in the Spirit! Catch the vision of God’s purpose!
We started from within – the Spirit doing His work within, joining us to Christ, leading us to our relationship with our Abba Father, making us different, working in us and then working our His purpose in us, gifting us, putting us to work with others, uniting us to a bigger purpose, accomplishing what is on the heart of God.
The end of our Journey Through the Cross is dying to ourselves and what we want, and being conformed to Jesus Christ. That is where we are going.
How? By the Holy Spirit within, and by our Living in the Spirit.