Life by the Spirit: Bible Survey for New Christians

March 26th, 2009

Romans 8:1–17; Galatians 5:16–26

They that are in Christ, are free from condemnation.
What harm comes of the flesh;
and what good of the Spirit.
but rather love, which is the sum of the law.
He reckons up the works of the flesh,
and the fruits of the Spirit,
and exhorts to walk in the Spirit.

8:1. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
8:2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
8:3. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,
8:4. that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

8:5. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
8:6. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
8:7. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.
8:8. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
8:9. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
8:10. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
8:11. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
8:12. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

8:13. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
8:14. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
8:15. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father.''
8:16. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
8:17. and if children, then heirs heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

5:16. I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
5:17. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
5:18. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

5:19. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness,
5:20. idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
5:21. envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

5:22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
5:23. gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
5:24. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

5:25. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
5:26. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.


The opening verses today are some that we have seen before. In general, There is a new law, the law of the spirit. Under the old law, we can only hope for death as the burden of our sins ile up. In the new law, there is no judgement, no condemnation. The law of the flesh weighs us down. The law of the spirit sets us free.

People who live by the rules only see the "Thou Shalts" and the "Thou Shalt Nots" of life. They see life as a rule book and think, wrongly, that if you do enough good things, it will balance your score card for the better and you make it to heaven. The law can only define human actions. Doing this is a good act. Doing that is a bad act. The spirit cuts to the motivation behind the act. It gets to the emotion and mental activity that builds up and leads to the action that pours out of us. By the time we do the deed, the idea, and attitude has already existed in us. That is the law of the spirit. Controling those unseen factors before they lead to actions.

Having a mind set on pleasing the desires of the body, even a mind that is set on doing the old testament laws is one that is hostile to God. Often the attitude is, 'OK, I'm doing what it says, but not because I want to. I'm doing the right thing, but I don't like it.' As soon as watchful eyes are gone, that forced behavior is tossed out. True behavior comes out behind our closed doors.

As believers we can strive to abide in Christ. We can learn the concepts and the things that motivated him, and make those thoughts our own as well. The best way to relearn a behavior is to make it our desire. A student who does poorly in school can improve, but onlyonce they suddenly come to realize the importance of learning and make the learning experience their own. People who are adicted to a substance often go right back to it, even after extensive rehab sessions. They can come to terms with breaking the habit, only once the motivation to leave it behind comes from the desire within. That is the spiritual law. What the body wants doesn't matter anymore. It's dead. The spirit is now alive.

Spiritual laws and living control our unseen attitudes. We can really have right living when we focus on the spirit of life in Christ Jesus. He is the power that we can rely on to practice these right ways now, and lead us into our place in his kingdom. His kingdom is real, and we can be in it.

The last passage goes further to define some fleshly behaviors, and contrasts those with fruits of the spirit. Such behaviors are contrary. Just notice that the evil behavior are a list of actions, verbs, things we do. The list of the fruits of the spirit are attitudes, emotions, unseen things, nouns. If the internal ways are set right, by self discipline in Jesus and his spiritual ways, then when we get squeezed by the stresses of life, good things come out in our behavior.

Nobody can make a law that ensures the law of the spirit. There is no law that makes a list of good behaviors. When our thoughts are focused on God's ways the possibilities of doing good are endless. Stay in Jesus, abide in his ways.

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