All drivers have the experience of running low on fuel, or maybe even run out of fuel. As the fuel tank gets low, a warning light typically orange or yellow comes on. The low fuel light in a car is just a warning for the real issue, which is the tank is running out of gas. The light itself is not the issue, the real issue is the gas tank being empty. If you keep driving, you will run out of gas. However, if you happen to However, when you crest the hill and go down again, the light would come on again. You think you lost more fuel. If you drive up another hill, the light will turn off again. What is really happening is the gas gage is located in the back of the tank. When you are going up a hill, gas moves to the back of the tank, so the gas gage reads high temporary. Looking for hills to drive up does not solve the problem; it only turns off the light. The real problem of running out of fuel is still there.
Romans 7 is equivalent to the low fuel warning light. Paul was no able to keep the law. He finds himself sinning, and no matter how hard he tries, he still sins. Paul went on to describe what is going on. For us Christians, unable to keep the law is equivalent to a car flashing the low fuel warning light. It is warning you about the real issue that you may not be aware of. The real issue with sin is not that you are too weak, and you accidentally gave into temptation. There is something more serious than that. The real issue is you are not walking according to the spirit as Paul puts it. Christians tries harder to follow the law, and inevitably fails. They think by trying harder, they can follow the law and not sin. Not being able to control yourself from sinning is just like driving up a hill when the low fuel warning light turns on. Going up a hill will turn it off for the moment, but the real problem is still there. For Christians, when you failed to resist temptation, is like the warning light. The real problem is still there. The problem is you are not being filled with the Holy Spirit. Some Christians say when you are saved by Jesus, you should be so grateful that you should no longer sin. Your own gratefulness may keep you from sinning for a while, but in the long run, you cannot rely on your strength. You still ultimately need the Holy Spirit.
With a car, you go to a gas station and fill up. For a Christian, when warning light comes telling us we are not walking according to the Holy Spirit, where do you go to fill up with the Holy Spirit? Some Christians go to church in hope of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Perhaps with the good music or good sermon or good fellowship, you will be filled with the Holy Spirit . If you depend on going to church to be filled with the Holy Spirit, you will be disappointed. Within the four walls of church, you are shielded from the outside world surrounded by Christians. For a moment, your mind is taken off of the world and is focused on God. These surrounding helps you focus on the Holy Spirit, but if you depend on church, then you have not developed your internal mind to focus on Jesus day in day out. When you leave the four walls of the church, and inevitable you will, by Sunday evening after watching a good game or having a good barbeque, you are already half drained of the Holy Spirit. Watching a game or having dinner are not sinful by themselves, but unless you have developed an internal relationship with Jesus, these external entertainment will draw you into the world and displace the holiness you found at church. Jesus said, the cares of the world, deceitfulness of riches and lusts of other things choke out the word. (Matt 4:19) Inevitably, when the alarm wakes you up on Monday morning, you will be back in the world again for another week. The real filling of Holy Spirit does not take place in church. It takes place Monday morning when the alarm rings and when you drive to work in heavy traffic with rude drivers all around you. The filling should happen all during the week when things go horribly wrong at work or at home. The filling should take place when you are behind on bill payment. Then on Sunday, instead of coming to church to be filled with the Holy Spirit, you should be bringing the Holy Spirit to the church for fellowship. One should not go to church empty of the Holy Spirit. That would be missing our obligation as Christians.
Many people consider the book of Romans to be the most letter in the New Testament. Martin Luther’s moment of revelation was inspired by Romans. Romans is one of the most important book, and chapter 8 is the most glorious chapter in the most important book. Some people calls it the glorious chapter. The person I work with said he memorized chapter 8 in his youth. My sister also has the ambition to memorize chapter 8.
In it, Paul was walking according to the Spirit. In chapter 8, Paul was blameless and free from sin. Thru Christ, he overcame sin. He has peace. He finds the Spirit dwelling in him, and the Spirit cries out to God and prays for him. It bears witness that Christians are children of God. He then looks to the future, and sees glory. Even the entire universe will sing a new again in the future. Paul in chapter 8 has a purpose, and God is causing all thing to work to his good. It is all because he was walking according to the Spirit.
To get to chapter 8, we have to pass by chapter 7. If chapter 8 is dwelling in the house of the Lord forever, then chapter 7 is walking thru the valley of the shadow of death.
Chapter 7 is depressing. Note that Paul was already a Christian in chapter 7. Even as a Christian, he is sinning out of control, being slayed by sin, manipulated by sin. He was hopeless; he was depressed. He pleaded for deliverance knowing he is living in a body of death. He is in utter darkness with no way out. It is not until the last sentence of the chapter 7 that he begins to find the answer. That leads to chapter 8 the glorious chapter.
We have to look in detail how Paul got from depressing chapter 7 to glorious chapter 8. He said it so quickly that if you blinked, you miss it. We will expand the last verse of chapter 7 and first verse of chapter 8.
“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God;
but with the flesh the law of sin.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,
who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
(Romans 7:25–8:1 KJV)
When we become a Christian, we look at Christ and see how holy and perfect He is. Perhaps we also look at other Christians in church and saw how they seemed to be so close to God. We then look at ourselves and see many sinful habits. We say we can’t be holy because there is sin in the way. So we focus on our sins. We may even be encouraging ourselves saying that we should be grateful for what Jesus did, and that gratefulness should motivate us to stop sinning. With our motivation, we were probably successful in fighting sin’s temptation. As Paul said, the motivation only lasted for a while.
Illustration below shows sin being in the way of holiness. The Christian shown is in the world. He sees God, but sin is in the way. Christian tried to overcome sin to get to God.
The temptation of sin is insidious. Little thing lead to the next, and soon we find ourselves walking in sin again. We pick ourselves up and try again. We fail again and then again. The cycle repeats over and over. Each time is predictable, we try not to sin, and we sin. To make things worse, there is Satan watching. He is the accuser that accuses us before God day and night as written in Revelation 12:10. Behind the scene, Satan is actively discouraging us. He is accusing us of sinning, and therefore cannot be close to God.
The Christian gets discourage. He questions his ability to ever be holy. He may even questions whether salvation is real. Because if it is real, how come he cannot make any progress towards God.
As Paul said, he wanted to follow the commandments, but he can’t. What he wants to do he does not do, but what he does not want to do that he does. He keeps on sinning, and has no ability to overcome sin. The same is with us; determination will not stop us from sinning.
Solution is in the last verse of Romans chapter 7, he gave thanks to Christ because he found the solution thru Christ. His flesh is still sinful and bound to sin, but he found Christ. Christ lifts his mind up above the sin. The glorious Romans chapter 8 starts with “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” So thru Christ, we can bypass sin. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” So instead of trying to fight our sinful urge, we put our mind on Christ bypassing sin and going straight to God. We will receive the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Christ sanctifies our mind so our spirit is alive and it identifies with God.
How can we be in Christ Jesus walking according to the Spirit. Paul never explained how to walk according to the spirit. If it was simple, he probably would have told us. The spirit must be something that cannot be described. Jesus said in John 3:8 we can hear the wind, but we cannot tell where it came from and where it goes. Same with those who are born of the Spirit. We don’t know where the spirit comes from or where it goes. Is hard to describe what it means to walk according to the spirit. Interesting that Jesus used wind as an example. Two thousand years later, even with our super computer and advanced scientific knowledge, we still don’t know where wind comes from. In February 2020 article in Scientific America it said even with all our knowledge, we still don’t know what originates the motion of air. Wind speed creates low pressure, and low pressure cause air to go fast. So what came first, low pressure or speed? We still don’t know what that invisible hand that causes air to move is. We just know that propeller rotates, and air moves, so we build airplanes that way. Jesus knew we still would not be able to solve the seemingly simple mystery 2000 even years later.
To repeat again, Paul said two things we need in chapter 8, 1) in Christ and 2) after the Spirit. Of the two things, number 2 we cannot describe how to obtain it because it is like the wind. Of the two things, when one is eliminated, that leaves only one left. We need to think about item number 1, which is being in Christ. Thank goodness that with Jesus Christ, we can explain. In fact, Jesus spent many verses explaining what it means to be in Him. So what Jesus said about abiding in him is where we should start. That should lead to the condition described in the glorious chapter 8 of Romans. By abiding in Him, we have the mind of Christ, then we have the spirit of Christ then finally, we are no longer captured by sin. The temptation of sin will not overpower us like how Paul describe in chapter 7. 1 John 3:9 reinforce Romans 8 of overcoming temptation of sin. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
He who come to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. (Heb 11:6) God’s reward is not centered on monetary reward. His reward is eternal spiritually fulfilling. We don’t think spirituality as a reward because we are in the flesh, and only think of worldly rewards. The process of seeking God starts with a faith. Is a faith that God will honor our effort. The effort is high, and obstacles are many. Is there a cost to seeking God? Yes. Who builds a tower without sitting down and counting the cost. Jesus said in Luke 14:28 to count the cost of following Him. The path with Christ is difficult and hard to find. Narrow is the way that leads to life, and few will find it. Matt 7:13. What we give up is a lot. We have to deny yourself and pick up the cross. Matt 16:24 Lastly, there will be distraction. The worries of the world and deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and the person become unfruitful. Matt 13. If you recall, the parable of the sower has four cases. The first case, the receiver is not even a Christian. He does not understand the word. The second case is the person that likes the gospel, but fall away and perhaps never attends church. The third case, the person has become a Christian, but the worries of the world and riches cause him to be unfruitful. The last case is the fruitful Christian. The third case is what catches a lot of Christian. A sign of being stuck in the third case is Paul’s description of Romans chapter 7. If you continue to fall into sin’s temptation, you have not quite given up yourself to pick up the cross. You have not quite acquired the mind of Christ.
While we so not have the ability to resist the temptation of sin, with the help of Jesus, we do have the power to resist the world. Gal 6:14. Is our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. When we go thru Jesus, we have the power to abandon the world and leave it behind. Just like we go thru Jesus for forgiveness of sin, we go thru Jesus to abandon the world.
The carnal mind will continue to have carnal thoughts. Temptation will continue to consume you until you fail. Mind set on Christ will overcome carnal thoughts. Mind set on Christ is mind removed from the world. (James 4:7–8 NIV11-GK) “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. “ Remove your mind from the world, submit to God and finally, thru Christ, you have the ability to resist temptation because your mind is renewed. Finally, after you have the mind of Christ, and you resist the devil thru Christ, he has no ground to stand, and will flee. You cannot resist the devil without the mind of Christ. It is impossible. Once you have the mind of Christ, then you have the ability to resist the devil.
The mind is a battleground. Rejection of the world and death
to the self also starts in the mind. You will fail as a Christian when you
cannot control the mind. Good thing death and resurrection of Christ is what we
use to conquer the battlefield of the mind.
(2 Corinthians 10:3–6 KJV) “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”
The tool we have been given pulls down all the strong holds in the high places. We wrestle against wickedness in the high places Ephe 6:12. So how do we use the tool given us? First the sword of the Spirit is the word of God. Ephe 6:17. The word of God is incredibly powerful. Jesus used the word of God to defeat Satan when He was tempted. Jesus himself is the word. That is how powerful the word of God is. The word is Jesus.
When devil attacks your thoughts, the first thing is to stop the attack in its track. Repeat 2 Corinthian 10:5. “Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” By being obedient to Christ, you will control every thought that pops up in your head. Any thoughts that comes into your mind, ask whether that thought in obedience to Christ or not. If is not, use 2 Corinthian to defeat the thought. Say you will hold every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Don’t let any thought fester that is not in obedience to Christ. As soon as the wrong thought comes, say you will hold captive every thought to the obedience of Christ.
Say to yourself that you will die to the world and everything in it as well as with your pride. You will die to yourself and your family and children and friends. About this time, the first wicked thought that pops into your mind is to remind you how uncomfortable it is to give up all you have lived for. Don’t let that or any other discouraging thought enters your mind. You will hold all thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Immediately repeat the 2 Corinthian 10:5 verse.
You cannot over power the devil’s temptation by yourself.
John 15:6 – You cannot bear fruit unless you abide in me. If you abide in me,
ask of anything and it will be done for you. (John 4:24 KJV)
Bear fruit is the fruit of the Spirit. That is love, joy, peace, patience,
gentleness, goodness faith, meekness, temperance. What is abiding in Christ?
Abiding in Christ is wholehearted giving up of everything in this world.
“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” What did Jesus mean be “in truth”. (John 14:6–7 KJV) “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.“ Jesus said he is the truth. Note He did not say I tell the truth, but rather, he is the embodiment of truth. What does it mean to worship in truth? It means you have to worship in Jesus. In another word, you have to worship in Spirit and in Jesus. This is the same description as Romans 8 that said we have to be in Christ and according to the Spirit. As we said before, we cannot know what it means to be in the Spirit, but we can know what it means to be in Christ. We know Christ because Jesus is God manifested in the flesh. He is the one that allows us to know God. That is why Jesus right after he said he is the truth, said if you know me, you know my father. We cannot know the Father or know how to get to receive the Spirit. God the Father is a spirit. We can know Jesus, and thru Jesus, we know the Father. To know Jesus, we have to serve only one master and disobey completely all that is in this world.
Jesus is God, we have to submit to Jesus. Thru Jesus, we are submitting to God. When we submit to God, then we can overcome temptation. We are given the power to overcome temptation. More exactly, once we resist the devil, he will not tempt us anymore. Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7. The devil must flee from us because we have the mind of Christ. How can the devil go up against the mind of Christ. He can only tempt us once. When we resist, he has no place to stand.