It could be argued that this message is a continuation of our short series from I Peter 2:9-10. It is not, but the fact is, this does a consider another of the great blessings we have as Christians. As I said at least once during that series, it may take eternity for us to fully understand and then to express our thanksgiving for all that is contained in our salvation.
Addressing primarily Christians, as Paul was doing in this letter to the Romans….. When you entered the Family of God, through divine grace and the sacrifice of Christ, you instantly began to enjoy a number of new relationships. You became a part of a chosen generation, and a royal priesthood, and an holy nation. You became a one of the Lord’s peculiar people. And in the midst of those things, you began a new relationship with God, the Holy Spirit. That relationship is so important that Christians need to stop and consider it from time to time.
To illustrate this new relationship, let’s pretend that you are young and deeply in love. You have found the person with whom you’d like to spend the rest of your life. You two seem perfectly matched and compatible in every possible way. You have the same kind of faith and the same Saviour – in fact you met in the House of God. You enjoy the same sort of music, and you have the same recreational interests. You have the same taste in food; and your life’s goals and interests are compatible. And there was instant acceptance by each other’s immediate families. Apparently the Lord has directed you to the perfect mate. Finally the big day arrives, and you two become one. There are relatives from both sides there for the wedding, many of whom traveled long distances. Then at the reception you are introduced to one very special uncle from spouse’s family. Immediately you recognize his face from pictures in the newspaper and news magazines. You don’t need to learn his name, because you’ve been hearing about this man for twenty years. He has been seen with presidents, as well as with the leaders of other nations, but he is not political.. He has written sixty-six books many of which reached the top ten list in sales. It seems that people in the reception hall bow before, him but he takes no notice of it at all. He behaves just like all the other happy relatives, rejoicing in your union. Eventually he extends his hand and greets you, as if you had been one of his closest friends for years. He is perhaps the most gracious person in the hall. Kindly, he makes you feel as if you are one of the family – HIS family. He tells you that as soon as you are back from your honeymoon that you are welcome to visit him at his home. In fact, you are not only welcome to visit, but in the kindest way possible, he insists. Let’s pretend that you are now the relative, by marriage, of a very important person.
I wish that it wasn’t necessary for us to stretch our imaginations, but I fear that we must. When you entered the Family of God, you instantly began a new relationship with the Holy Spirit. And God, the Spirit, is in some ways very much like that fictitious uncle that I just described. But there is nothing fictitious about Him, and He is far more important than most Christians realize.
Paul, in this great chapter, mentions the Spirit several times, even though He is not the primary theme. This is not Paul’s entire doctrine on the Third Person of the Trinity. But trying to restrict our thoughts to this chapter, let’s consider what Paul says about the Holy Spirit. The biography of this Uncle reaches into several volumes, and only eternity will be able to fully reveal how important He really is to us at this very moment.
Let’s start with WHO HE IS.
With apologies to Dr. Zeus, this Who is a He. By that I mean that the Holy Spirit is as much a Person as the individual sitting next to you. In II Kings 6, Elisha was passing on messages from the Lord to the King of Israel, in regard to where the armies of Syria were located and what their plans were. When Benhadad, King of Syria, learned that the prophet of God was the cause of a string of defeats, he put a contract out on his head. So one morning Elisha and his servant awoke to find that they were surrounded by the Syrian army. The servant began to panic, but his employer calmly declared: “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” Then Elisha prayed for the young man’s eyes to be opened to reality of the spirit world. All of a sudden he could see that between them and the enemy there was an army of angels.
Just as it was that day, the Lord could open our eyes, enabling us to see a room full of angels right here. And I have a hunch that if we could see them, we might see a group of beings as varied in size and feature as we are ourselves. Quite possibly every one of those angels has a different spirit-body, different personality, different speech pattern and so on. Every one of those angels is a separate “person” or “being.”
And along with those angels there is a much greater and more important Being – God, the Holy Spirit. He is as much a separate Being, a separate Entity, a separate “Person” as you are from your neighbor. Scriptures throughout the Bible indicate that the Holy Spirit has a will, has intellect, and carries out specific actions; He is a very real Person. Never, never, never think of the Holy Spirit as merely the power of God. And even though He is divine and omnipotent, like any being, He can be offended, and He can be grieved. Also, without trying to sound blasphemous, in some ways, He can become your best friend.
Verse 9 reminds us that the Holy Spirit is equally the “Spirit of Christ’ and the “Spirit of God.” Just because the Father and the Son are different persons, they have an indescribable relationship which cannot be adequately illustrated by anything that we know upon this earth. They are separate, but they are united – John 10:30 – “I and my Father are one.” And just as the Bible speaks about the “Christ of God” (Luke 9:20) and the “Son of God,” the Bible also speaks about the “Spirit of Christ’ and the “Spirit of God.” They are one God, but three separate persons within the God-head. So the bottom line is that the Holy Spirit is divine; He is as much God as the Father or the Son.
There is no one related to us by birth or marriage, who is more important to the saint than the Holy Spirit.
For example, in some ways the Holy Spirit is AT THE VERY HEART OF OUR SALVATION.
Verse 2 – “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Before our “marriage” to Jehovah – before our “salvation” – we were dead in trespasses and sin. But then in the fulness of time the Saviour came and paid the penalty for our sin – thought His death. And verse 2, calling Him “the Spirit of Life,” the Holy Spirit applied the result of Jesus’ vicarious sacrifice and delivered God’s elect from their eternal death. Simply put, the First Person of the Trinity made the decree, the Second Person of the Trinity made the payment, and the Third Person of the Trinity made the application. It is impossible to say that someone can be free from the law of sin and death if it wasn’t for the ministry of the Holy Spirit of Life. Then verses 9 and 11 remind us that the Holy Spirit actually comes to INDWELL those who are brought into God’s family. “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.” “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.” Despite the fact that the Holy Spirit is as omnipresent as the other Members of the God-head, these verses are talking about a special relationship between the Spirit and the believer. And focusing on verse 11, we are told that because the Spirit abides in the saint, we shall some day arise from the grave, just as the Lord Jesus did. Then borrowing a pair of verses from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians – When we repented and put our trust in Christ, “after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were SEALED with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the EARNEST of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” The indwelling Holy Spirit is the seal, earnest and guarantee that what God has promised and started He will perform and complete. “He that raised up Christ from dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” But it’s more than just the life of a future resurrection which the Spirit guarantees to us. Going back to verse one – the Holy Spirt is the Spirit of Life, even the spiritual life we enjoy right now. The Spirit brings about the completion of regeneration – the re-creation of spiritual life, where there was formerly spiritual death because of sin.
Verse 10 then adds another dimension to this subject by bringing up “righteousness.” “If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” The Holy Spirit is the purveyor of life because of righteousness. Doesn’t this take us back to the idea of justification – that God has declared us righteous? What God the Father decrees and declares is, in fact, a reality. And once again, the Holy Spirit is at the heart of the subject.
Verse 15 brings up the matter of our new relationship to God the Father. “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.” We began this evening by using an illustration of a marriage, but it is more Biblical to talk about a birth. We are not married into God’s family, which suggests our worthiness; we are born again into it. But – not only are we born into the divine family, we are fully adopted into it as well. There is a spiritual birth, and there is a spiritual legal adoption. Once again, the Holy Spirit is at the center of that adoption as well as the birth. And because the Spirit abides in the child of God, we can with comfort and confidence, cry out to Jehovah, “My Father” – “Abba.”
There is much more that we could say about the Holy Spirit and our salvation, but we must move on.
Paul talks much about what the Spirit is doing for us AS MEMBERS OF GOD’S FAMILY.
For example, the Holy Spirit is the sphere of our Christian walk. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 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: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Let me take you back to my opening illustration and your marriage to that perfect match. Your new fabulous uncle invites you to move into his mansion with him and to work in his business. You are taught all the things that he knows, and he introduces you to all of his friends. You wear his expensive clothes; he guides you in your decisions and empowers your choices. You might say that “in Him, you live and move and have your being.” I know that the illustration crumbles at this point, but if you choose not to walk after the Spirit, you give evidence to being a rebel and a fool; still a member of another family; a spiritual adulterer.
Verse 5 goes another step forward and suggests that not only do we walk in the Spirit, but we think in Him. “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” The Christian is someone who “minds” the things of the Spirit of God. The word translated “mind” is “phroneo” (fron-eh’-o). It is translated “to think,” “to regard,” “to mind,” and “to savor.” James Strong says that it means “to have understanding, be wise; to feel, and to think.” In other words, “to mind” the Holy Spirit is to think as He thinks, and to feel as He feels. The Third Person of the Trinity, doesn’t just mechanically bring us into the family of God, He brings the very heart of the God-head into our hearts.
And verse 13 teaches us that it is through the Spirit that we are enabled to mortify the deeds of the body. Let’s say that we were born with a nervous disorder which makes one of our eyes violently twitch. Our darling fiancé is aware of this but out of love overlooks it during the courtship. But it bothers us, and it bothers others who aren’t so kind and loving. In fact, it is so disconcerting and degenerative that it jeopardizes our future – growing worse. And then we are brought into the home of our new spouse’s great, great uncle. It just so happens that among his many talents and skills he is an excellent neurosurgeon. When we finally come to our senses, we willingly lay down on the soft carpet in front of his fireplace and let our new uncle take out his little medical bag. He sprays a little topical Novocain and makes a tiny incision at our temple and that nasty twitch is gone forever. We had no idea that it could be so easy, and we certainly couldn’t have effected that cure ourselves. “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.” There is not a Christian in this room who is capable or sufficient to satisfactorily living the Christian life. There are no twelve step programs which can rid us of wicked deeds indelibly planted into our wicked hearts. But there is the ministry of the Holy Spirit, if we are willing for Him to have His way. “Yes, Lord, pull out your scalpel. I will hold still, for you will help me.”
Verse 14 is a wonderful, wonderful statement. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Do you remember when Peter was at Joppa on the coast of Israel in Acts 10? He was staying at the house of another man named Simon, who was a part of local tanning industry. While in prayer one day the Holy Spirit gave him a vision about a sheet full of animals. After seeing the same vision three times, Peter was in turmoil as to its meeting. Then “while Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.” Later on, Peter described those events to some of the brethren back in Jerusalem. He said, “The Spirit bade me go with them” to the house of Cornelius. There was no way to verify what the Spirit said to the heart of the Apostle, but since “as many as are let by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God,” the men to whom Peter was talking had little doubt that what he told them was the truth. Christians experience the mysterious internal leadership of the Spirit.
And they also experience the witness (the “testimony,” the “record”) of the Spirit. Verse 16 – “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” There are tens of thousands of people who think they are Christians, going through the motions of the Christian religion ast hey understand them. But many have doubts, because they don’t have the testimony of God to match the testimony of their imaginations and mouths. And that isn’t to say that there aren’t genuine Christians who sometimes wonder about their salvation. But, when the professing Christian walks NOT after the flesh, but after the Spirit…. When he minds the things of the Spirit, rather than the things of the flesh…. If he is more spiritually minded than carnally minded…. Then the witness that the Spirit gives him will accurately reflect the true condition of his soul.
Another blessing of the indwelling and omnipresent Holy Spirit is His help to us in our devotional lives. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Paul declares that every Christian has the blessing of the Holy Spirit carrying our words before the throne of grace. We can know that when we pray for a sick relative or friend, our heart is heard in Heaven. We can know that as we plead for the salvation of our loved ones, the Holy Spirit is hearing and sharing our requests with the rest of the God-head. And when we are so full of fear that we can’t speak, or when circumstances don’t permit actual words, we have the assurance that there is a divine intercessor to speak on our behalf.
What a fabulous family it is into which we have been brought. We sing, “What a Friend we have in Jesus,” and the sentiment of the hymn is basically true. Someone needs to write a song which bears the same kind of sentiments about the Holy Spirit.
Now let me return to an earlier idea, which is still yet to come.
Verse 11 – “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.” Not only is the ministry of the Spirit something which He HAS done for us…. And not only are there a myriad of blessings which He IS doing for us right now…. There is that same blessing which He gave to the Son which will likely be given to us. If the Lord doesn’t return soon, eventually the Holy Spirit shall bring our dead bodies back from the dust of death..
Will His blessings never end? No they never will, not through ten thousand millennia. What a Friend we have in the Holy Spirit.