Directed by the Holy Spirit
Please read Romans 8:5-11 in your go-to Bible.
Have you heard of Hyper Sonic Sound? Invented by Elwood “Woody” Norris, this technology creates sound waves that travel like a laser beam up to 150 yards. The targeted person hears sounds that cannot be heard by anyone else, even persons nearby. Imagine listening to music or talk without headphones while people right next to you would be left in total silence. If you move out of the tightly formed path of these unique sound waves you become unable to hear the sound. It’s reported that there are millions of wives looking into this technology…
God speaks to us in a way similar to these sound waves. The Holy Spirit speaks to people of faith; as we are standing in Christ, the message is clear. If we move away from Christ, His voice falls on deaf ears and we miss His message.
Today, to commemorate Pentecost, we are focused like a Hyper Sonic Sound beam on what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit. May we seek to be in good standing with God so we can hear what the Spirit is saying to us.
People who are saved are directed by the Spirit.
1. You can live according to your sin nature, but… (5-8)
These verses provide a contrast between SIN and SPIRIT. Note: the NIV has chosen to translate the word “flesh” as SIN. That is a legitimate translation as it is consistent with Paul’s intent in this ch. and it is one of the three ways the word is used in the Bible. (Another use of the word is to refer to ordinary physical life i.e., 2CT 10:3. See 1 Corinthians 2:4 for another example. A third use is to refer to a materialistic, worldly mindset.)
Verse five offers contrasting mindsets. The Greek word for MIND refers to an attitude that gives rise to actions. Sinful MINDS ARE SET ON WHAT the sinful nature DESIRES. Spiritual MINDS, conversely, ARE SET ON WHAT THE SPIRIT DESIRES.
Verse six contrasts two different outcomes. Sinful MINDS end in DEATH. Because such a person is not saved, they remain out of fellowship with God. Spiritual MINDS produce LIFE AND PEACE. Because such a person is being saved, they are in fellowship with God and that relationship imparts LIFE AND PEACE.
Verse seven contrasts opposite reactions to God’s law. Sinful MINDS are disobedient. Paul offered three ways of saying essentially the same thing: an unsaved person is interested in their own authority, their own will.
- HOSTILE to God’s law.
- REFUSES to SUBMIT to God.
- Is incapable of keeping the law.
On the other hand, spiritual minds are prompted to new interests and aims.
The outcome of a life lived under the control of the SINFUL NATURE is an inability to PLEASE GOD. (8) This is because the SINFUL NATURE is always aimed at pleasing self by indulging in sin. it is thoroughly opposed to God’s purpose. Even if our nature could be reoriented to godliness, no human being achieves perfection. We are unable to be holy, so God forgives our sins and gives us His Spirit for holiness. It is His gift, and that pleases Him.
2. Only persons controlled by the Spirit will live eternally. (9-11)
You can only be controlled by the Holy Spirit if the Spirit LIVES IN YOU. (9) The word IF appears frequently in this paragraph; in each case Paul assumed they did have the Spirit; he made a rhetorical statement. The presence of the Holy Spirit is evidenced by the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and by the Gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12). The titles Holy Spirit, Spirit, Spirit of the Christ, and Spirit of God are all ways of saying the same thing.
If the Spirit does not live in you, you do not belong to Christ. (9) As Jesus taught in John 14, He makes the Holy Spirit available to all who believe in Him. The Spirit and the Son and the Father are inseparable; you can’t have one or two without having all three; they are the Trinity, after all.
The Spirit is evidence of the presence of Christ in you. (10) Because of Christ, you are alive. YOUR BODY IS DEAD BECAUSE OF SIN; your present physical form is mortal, killed by sin. (Romans 3:23) DEAD is a vivid expression for “doomed.” The Spirit is not given to save our physical form but our inner person.
YOUR SPIRIT IS ALIVE BECAUSE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS; godly living is only possible by means of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s Greek here is a little ambiguous and there is debate about whether Paul references the spirit (small “s,” the inner part of human life) or the Spirit (capital “S,” the Holy Spirit). I’ll spare you the particulars. My decision is this; since Paul’s point all along has been about the Holy Spirit living in us, it doesn’t matter. As the Holy Spirit lives in us, there is no practical distinction between our spirit and the Holy Spirit. The ambiguity of language is appropriate to this fact.
Only by means of the SPIRIT can we receive eternal life. (12) Who we truly are - our inmost self - is what survives into eternity with God. On the day of Jesus’ Second Coming, we receive a renewed body, a resurrected form that is united with our spirit. In 1 Corinthians 15:44 Paul described this as a “spiritual body.”
Jesus’ resurrection is a guarantee of our resurrection. It is also an indicator of what our resurrected state will be like. In the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus’ body had physical form, but it was not limited to a single time, place or appearance. Paul is saying that two of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to impart genuine spiritual life in this world and is a guarantee of eternal life in heaven. The Spirit is a present-day reality and a future reality as well.
People who are saved are directed by the Spirit.
Paul was quite a hand at self-examination. For example, he encouraged the believers in Corinth with these words:
EXAMINE YOURSELVES TO SEE WHETHER YOU ARE IN THE FAITH; TEST YOURSELVES. DO YOU NOT REALIZE THAT CHRIST JESUS IS IN YOU - UNLESS, OF COURSE, YOU FAIL THE TEST.
Followers of Jesus do not just read or hear the word of God and then ignore it. Instead, we receive the Spirit’s guidance and respond with obedience.
To be faithful, we must have the Holy Spirit and then respond with obedience to what we learn. This requires us to stand back and look at our lives. We must live with intention in our strengths and work on our weaknesses.
One-Volume Illustrated Edition Zondervan Bible Commentary, Romans, Leslie C. Allen
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 10, Romans, Everett F. Harrison
The Communicator’s Commentary, Vol. 6, Romans, D. Stuart Briscoe