Hope in Adversity: Life in the Spirit (Romans 8.5-11)

– Bishop Stephen Hale

Just imagine you’re wandering though Woollies Blackburn South peering at people behind their face masks. It wouldn’t be obvious that there are the two groups of people that Paul talks about here in Romans 8. Either those who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them or those who don’t. (see v.5) In the supermarket generally you’re purely focused on earthly things! These days, of course, everyone has learnt to say something like, ‘I’m not very religious, but I’m a very spiritual person!’ If you press people on that one, they generally get very defensive very fast!

If we were to wander through the same place with God’s eyes, he would see some who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them and others who live for themselves. These two ideas have often been confused by the church at various points in Christian history. Some have understood it to elevate a certain type of spirituality over another. If we look at the passage, we will see that when Paul talks about ‘flesh’ he is talking about fallen human nature. Those who live according to the Spirit are people who have been set free from the consequences of their sin and rebellion. These people are still sinners who need to come back again and again for forgiveness, but they are seeking to live a new life in a new way and they are doing it with the Holy Spirit’s power and help.

The goal for Christian people is to walk in the Spirit. As we live this earthly life, we seek to focus on what God would have us think and do. It’s a challenging life because we don’t seek to live a comfortable life but one where we are striving for something much better.

At present we are all being asked to live very restricted lives. We are being told again and again that ‘we’re all in this together’. My actions have consequences for others. Those who step put of line are fined but also subject to scorn and ridicule. As we all know it isn’t easy!

As Paul puts it a life of the flesh seems a lot easier, but it has terrible consequences. We can do as we please (except at present!). But unfortunately it leads to spiritual death as it is displeasing to God. You may choose to ignore him in this life, but you’ll still have to face up to him in the next!

Verse 11 brings it all together. If the Holy Spirt is dwelling in you, then you’ll seek to live a new life in a new way today. Then when you face the end of your earthly life, the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, will raise you from the dead as well. You have a great life with God today and an even better one with Him in His eternal future.

A better life today and an eternal future! What more could you want?

Let’s each seek to draw on the Holy Spirit’s help to live that new life in a new way as we rejoice in the hope we have in Christ Jesus.