Ephesians– overview of 3:1-9;The Secret of the Ages, part 22 (Overcoming sin and suffering).

Tuesday September 10, 2019


The apex of our passage of study, Rom 8:1-11, is vs. 9:


Rom 8:9 However, you [the believers in Rome] are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.


Here the great mark of the Christian is, that the Spirit of God dwells in him.


“YOU” (emphatic use of the pronoun) are not in the flesh but in the Spirit. You are forever in the Spirit. This is the defining quality of your life as a believer in Christ Jesus.


We are each responsible to know and understand the truth:


“A man may be a heretic in the truth; and if he believes things only because his Pastor says so, or the Assembly so determine, though his belief be true, yet the very truth he holds becomes his heresy.” [Milton, Areopagitica]


This was in a speech that John Milton [famous for Paradise Lost] gave to Parliament in 1644 in defense of the right of freedom of speech and expression.


Even though your pastor taught you the truth, do you know it to be the truth by your own determination through your understanding of the Scriptures and your own walk with Christ? This is the bridge from knowledge to wisdom.


These words by Milton are the absolute denial of the essential claim advanced by the modern secular religions and by the political left. “Don’t think. Don’t ask questions. Don’t use your imagination. Just swallow what we say and do what we tell you. We’re smarter than you and know what’s good for you.”


Such people are incapable of love, and hate freedom because it is a danger to their desired status quo. If they are capable of love at all, it is as a love of intolerance.


Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.


Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.


Rom 8:3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,


Christ did what the Law could not do – dethrone sin by condemning it to death.


Rom 8:4 in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.


Paul writes in Rom 8:4 that we are the type of creatures who walk according to the Spirit. It is who we are. He is not here addressing whether you and I are doing so right now or not. He is stating an aspect of the new humanity that God has made through the cross of Christ.


God condemned, or, as we might say, executed sin in the flesh for us by the death of Christ. He did not die only for my sins, but also for my sin – the root of sin that is in my nature.


That which worries and distresses the heart of the sincere believer daily, is put away for faith by death, and we are dead to it. God has settled the question, condemned the nature of sin in you, which you also condemn, as well as the sins you may commit, which you should also condemn.


No one can cross over from the earthly kingdom to the heavenly without the death of the flesh, and by that the Bible doesn’t mean physical death. If that were true then all anyone would have to do is die physically. The flesh has a debt before God. The debt must be paid and the flesh must die. The creature must then possess a nature of righteousness, in a word, the man who crosses over from this world into the kingdom of God must be justified.


1Co 15:50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.


For the earthy to cross over to the heavenly, for the one in the flesh to cross over, there has to be a death. Christ killed sin and the flesh, so that now, we who believe are no longer wed to the flesh but to Christ, and we have forever crossed over to the kingdom of God. There is a reason that the word “gospel” means “good news.”


Sin has been condemned in connection with human flesh, and this gives the glorious right for the risen Christ to live in these bodies of ours while they are on earth; and to walk in us, therefore, daily, in resurrection victory.


And while we wait for our final redemption, we now reckon sins and our nature for sin as judged, condemned and dead.


The heart of a man who understands and believes this truth is a heart that the Spirit can lead into things unimaginable.


Before the cross, sin had to be judicially dealt with in the flesh. Now, sin is condemned to death in the flesh. As we shall see in verse nine, believers are not in the flesh before God at all.


I repeat, and will continue to repeat it until it sinks into our conscious minds daily, that we were designed for this. There is no other way for the machinery of our lives to be run. We walk by means of the Holy Spirit.


We have been designed to walk by means of the Spirit in the resurrection life of Jesus Christ.


Rom 8:5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.


The lack of the use of the definite article emphasizes that believers are those who are minded towards the available qualities of the Holy Spirit within them. This is emphasized above the fact that the Person of God is within us.


“according to Spirit” – no definite article emphasizes the qualities of the Spirit in us: power, wisdom, guidance for good decisions.


To me, this is very helpful. I cannot fathom the idea that the Person of God is indwelling me. Such a thing is too wonderful for me, but power, wisdom, and guidance I can comprehend. This is our focus. We are of the type, made by God to be new creatures in Christ, made to walk by the Holy Spirit and set our minds continually on the “things” of the Spirit, namely that I am determined to walk in His power, wisdom, and direction, and I am confident that He will mysteriously and wonderfully work those things through me.


“but those who are minded according to Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” The def. article emphasizes the identity of “the things.”


“according to Spirit” – qualities of the Spirit.

“the things” – identity of the things of the Spirit.

These compliment one another.


The lack of the definite article before Spirit, “according to Spirit,” emphasizes His power and nature over His person. The article then appears in front of “things” – “the things of the Spirit” then referring to the identity of “the things.” So, “His power in us has brought about the things of His.” This is yet another motivation, for those who yield their lives to God in order to walk by means of the Spirit, will become intimate with “the things of the Spirit.” Certainly, we could define many of the things from scripture, like wisdom, the knowledge of the deep things of God, power, insight, discernment, etc., and we should search them out from the scripture and know them well, but “the things” will only be known fully when we come to know them by walking in the Spirit and not in sin.


Man earthy, of the earth, an hungred feeds

On earth’s dark poison tree –

Wild gourds, and deadly roots, and bitter weeds;

And as his food is he.

And hungry souls there are, that find and eat

God’s manna day by day;

And glad they are, their life is fresh and sweet,

For as their food are they!

[Ter Steegen]


What we feed on in life is not what we profess but what we live and walk and breathe.


What is it that motivates your will, that is the true love of your intellect, and is the hidden priority of your conscience? This is the food of your soul and life.


Christians can learn the principles of the life of Christ and profess them, profess to agree wholly with them, and even profess to follow them, when they don’t, or would prefer not to. They can get so good at professing them, that they can convince themselves that they walk by them when they don’t. How great is this darkness, when we think we are in the light? A sober and humble mind sees sin, weakness, selfishness clearly and corrects them by means of grace and truth. A proud mind always lies to itself.


Kata plus the present participle of eimi (“are according to”) means habitual dominance – referring to the unbeliever (flesh); referring to the believer (Spirit).


Again, this remains in the context of referring to a characteristic of the believer. God indwells him and does not indwell the unbeliever. The unsaved person is mastered by sin whereas the believer is dominated by the Spirit of God. Paul is not referring to the personal sins of the believer or his struggles (Rom 7), but here to the characteristics. Paul is referring to what we are as he does in Eph 5 and Gal 5.


Gal 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.


Gal 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.


Eph 5:8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light


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