Correction – Question # 4 should be Romans 16: 5 – 15 (not 15: 5 – 15)
What is your favorite chapter in the Bible? What chapter would you say is the most important one in all of Scripture? Many theologians and pastors choose Romans 8 because in those 39 verses Paul explained to the Romans the essence of what their faith in Jesus really meant. He gave them the assurance that no matter what struggles, disappointments or challenges they were facing, there was NO CONDEMNATION for those who were in Christ Jesus. He explained to them that the law was no longer their master, but that the Spirit of Christ now lived in them and would bring them the freedom and power to live according to His desires. It’s an amazing chapter that is full of promises that have sustained believers throughout the centuries.
Why is it then that you and I seem to be unable to live our lives in complete submission to the Holy Spirit? For example, you envision in the early morning hours a day when you will be patient with your children, kind to your neighbors, at peace with your circumstances, and truthful at all times. In fact, you are quite determined to make this happen. It’s a good way to start the day. The reality is that so often old habits or selfish desires pull you away from your goals. Or perhaps the unrest and attitudes of your friends or acquaintances influence your thinking in negative ways. At other times, there is no question that Satan distracts you with taunting thoughts and serious doubts. It is exactly at that point of discouragement, struggle, or failure, when you and I need to return to Romans 6 – 8. We are in good company because even Paul described his own experiences of frustration and need, as well as the remedy for our dilemmas.
When parents watch their toddler begin to change from crawling to walking, there are many moments of stumbling, falling, and even going back to crawling again. What is the response of the adults? Punishment and scolding. Never. It is one of love that reaches out a hand, expresses verbal encouragement, and silent adoration. The young child feels that and tries again and again to be like those who adore him. In some ways, that is just what God the Father is doing for His children when we fall and struggle, isn’t it? He says to you and to me, “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same spirit living within you” – Romans 8: 11 NLT By faith, you and I can learn to be controlled by the Spirit of God who lives in us rather than by our sinful nature – but it will always be step by step by step – one moment at a time.
The contrast between being controlled by God vs being controlled by my old sinful nature is not as definitive in my life as outlined in Romans 8. I wish it was more instantaneous! Even though I honestly choose Christ and want to be controlled by the Spirit, there are some deeply ingrained areas/thought patterns that I hang on to which prevent me from being completely transformed. I am glad that God is patient and that “there is no condemnation” because transformation is certainly an ongoing process for me.