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Sunday, May 1, 2016, 4:04 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “My Sheep.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 8:1-17 (ESV).

Not According to the Flesh (vv. 1-8)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separated from God, without hope, and destined to spend eternity in hell (in eternal punishment). There is nothing we can do to affect our own salvation. Nothing we do causes us to deserve it, and there is not anything we can do to earn it. We can never be good enough in our own flesh. The law dictates that we must die for our sin. So, God, who is loving and is full of grace, sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us, and thus when he died, our sins died and were buried with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death on our behalf.

Because of God’s grace to us in sending his Son to die for our sins, we, through faith in Jesus Christ, can be delivered from the curse of sin, which is death (eternal separation from God). We can also be set free from slavery to sin, be free to now walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, and we can have eternal life with God both now and forevermore. If we have truly trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord (master-owner) and Savior of our lives, we are no longer condemned to hell, or to slavery to sin, or to eternal separation from God, for Jesus set us free from all that! Amen!

So, what is the righteous requirement of the law? The law, as I understand it, demands sinless perfection. It demands holiness and righteousness. It is God’s moral law. Yet, because we are sinners by nature, not one of us is able, in our own flesh, to live perfectly, and thus we all stand condemned outside of faith in Jesus Christ, because we can’t keep the law with absolute perfection. So, Jesus put our sin to death on a cross so that through faith in him, his righteousness might be credited to our account, and so we might no longer stand condemned. Yet, to whom is this righteousness imputed? Not to those who merely profess the name of Jesus, but to those who walk (conduct our lives) no longer according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

So, some say that is works-based salvation. But, is it? No! Why? For one, Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15). He did not die merely so we could escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die. He died to radically transform our lives away from sinful lifestyles to Spirit-filled lives committed to godliness and holiness. If we have not been transformed of the Spirit of God in death to sin and in living to righteousness, then we are not truly saved. A saved life is a changed life – from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God (Ac. 26:16-18). I am now free from the control of sin, and I am free to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Amen!

So many people are teaching that a mere confession of Christ as Savior guarantees them heaven, no matter how they live their lives from this point forward. The point of salvation, to them, is to escape hell and to go to heaven when they die. They obviously have not truly comprehended the words of Romans 6 and 8. The point of our salvation is not just so we can escape punishment and so we can have eternal rewards. The goal of our salvation is to eradicate our old lives of living for sin and self and to give us new lives in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). This is the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, but only as we yield control of our lives over to the Spirit.

If, after we profess to know Jesus, we are still living our lives to please our sinful nature, and if our minds are still set on what our sinful nature desires, and not on what the Spirit desires, we will still die in our sins, not because we failed to keep the law perfectly, but because no heart transformation of the Spirit of God took place in our lives. If we have truly believed in Jesus Christ, there should be evidence in our lives that such faith exists. We should now live for God, and do what pleases him, not perfectly, but consistently and persistently, by the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh. We should yield to the Spirit in our lives, walking in the ways of our Lord, following him wherever he leads us. Yet, if we are still controlled by the sinful nature, we cannot please God.

If in Fact (vv. 9-11)

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

We cannot assume we are saved from our sins, that we have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven, and that we no longer stand condemned before God if a spiritual transformation has not taken place in our lives. There are far too many people who are counting on heaven when they die while they still live like hell while they are on the face of this earth. They do not honor God for the holy God that he is, but they act as though God owes them eternal life, even though their minds are clearly still set on the things of the flesh, and not on the things of the Spirit. A man confronted me one day when I was telling people they needed to repent of their sins. He told me he didn’t have to repent. All he had to do was believe. But, is that the goal of our salvation? Is it not to be set free from the power of sin and Satan over our lives, and to now come under the control of righteousness?

If By the Spirit (vv. 12-17)

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Do we get this? I don’t think many who profess the name of Jesus do, for they still live as though they are their own masters, and as though they can do whatever they want with their lives. They see God’s grace as free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, rather than seeing God’s grace as freedom from the control of sin, and freedom to walk in Christ’s righteousness. Their lives are no different from the people of this sinful world who make no confession of Christ whatsoever. They do many of the same things. They watch the same TV shows and movies, are addicted to pornography, tell the same raunchy jokes, lie to one another, cheat the system, and cheat on their spouses and their employers, et al. Their lives are about self-pleasure and self-satisfaction, rather than about following their Lord in surrender and obedience, and because someone has convinced them they do not have to turn from their sins and they don’t have to obey God, as though that should be the goal of our salvation to be free to now sin without guilt. What a mockery!

We must know here that if we conduct our lives according to our flesh, and not according to the Spirit, we will die in our sins. We do NOT have the hope of heaven when we die, and we will not escape eternal punishment. If we want to have eternal life with God in heaven, we must be crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we must be resurrected with Christ, of the Spirit, in newness of life, but not to a just a slightly cleaned up old life, but to a life radically transformed of the Spirit of God from death to life, from the power of Satan to God, and from darkness (sin) to light (truth, righteousness). If we continue to live according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death (present tense) the deeds of the flesh, we will live eternally with God. Amen! All who are LED by the Spirit are the Sons of God. If we are not being led by the Spirit, then we are illegitimate children.

My Sheep / An Original Work / June 24, 2012
Based off John 10:1-18 NIV

My sheep hear me. They know me.
They listen to my voice and obey.
I call them and lead them.
They know my voice, so they follow me.
They will never follow strangers.
They will run away from them.
The voice of a stranger they know not;
They do not follow him.

So, I tell you the truth that
I am the gate, so you enter in.
Whoever does enter
Will find forgiveness and will be saved.
Nonetheless whoever enters
Not by the gate; other way,
He is the thief and a robber.
Listen not, the sheep to him.

Oh, I am the Good Shepherd,
Who laid his own life down for the sheep.
I know them. They know me.
They will live with me eternally.
The thief only comes to steal and
Kill and to destroy the church.
I have come to give you life that
You may have it to the full…

They know my voice, so they follow me.