The Foundation of the Spirit
May 19, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
Paul's letter to the Romans is considered by most Christians to be one of the finest and most comprehensive explanations of the gospel. Paul starts the letter by declaring that he is "not ashamed" of the gospel because it is the power of God (1:16). That power lies in the righteousness of God revealed in Jesus Christ (3:22). Because of the sacrificial work of Christ, God is able to accept sinful people as righteous by their faith in Christ.
Paul goes to great lengths in his letter to unpack how that declaration of what God has done through Christ is powerful in the lives of believers. Not only are they counted righteous in his sight (4:24), they also have peace with God (5:1); they are reconciled in relationship with God (5:10); they have been raised to newness of life (6:4); they are no longer enslaved to sin (6:6); they are released from the law (7:6); and they face no condemnation (8:1).
This Good News sounds almost too good to be true. How can this be for such a sinner as I? Especially in light of my faith that seems so weak at times? To such doubts Paul turns his attention in chapter 8. And his focus is the Holy Spirit. Up to Romans 8, Paul mentions the Spirit only 4 times (1:4, 2:29, 5:5, & 7:6). Now, in chapter 8, Paul undergirds the hope of the Gospel by shedding light on the Spirit's decisive work on our behalf.
The Spirit sets us free from the law of sin and death (8:2) by applying Christ's fulfillment of the righteous requirement of the law to us (8:4). Like a cleansing shower, the Spirit washes away the stain of sin (cf. Titus 3:5) and, like a paint brush, the Spirit covers us in Christ's righteousness.
The Spirit dwells with believers, and his divine presence brings life to us, even while we are in these sinned-affected bodies and wills (8:9-10).
The Spirit also enables and empowers our battle with the remnants of sinful flesh; he gives a new heart and awakens new desires (8:12-14).
The Spirit affirms for us, and in us, that we are children of God; a status and relationship that cannot be revoked (8:16). The Spirit affirms this reality through the testimony of Scripture.
And then Paul attests to the mysterious work of the Spirit interceding for believers (8:26-27). We have weaknesses: we forget the good work of God on our behalf; we doubt the goodness of God; we become afflicted by paralyzing guilt and shame; we revert to man-centered and self-centered attempts to secure hope and peace in our lives; we don't know what to pray for. The Spirit intercedes for us in our weaknesses. He's not counting on us and our performance!
Such an amazing salvation! Planned by God. Accomplished through Christ. Applied to us by the Holy Spirit. We are upheld, sustained, carried in this great salvation not by our valiant efforts or work or faith, but by the Spirit. He is the "guarantee of our inheritance" in Christ because he is working on our behalf!
The foundation of assurance of salvation, of new life in Christ, of victory over sin is the Holy Spirit. If you are in Christ, the Spirit dwells in you (8:9). Rejoice in this and seek to understand how the Spirit is at work for you.