Tuesday, May 27, 2008

New Life In Christ: Romans 8

St. Paul continues his explanation of the Christian movement in Romans 8. Earlier in this letter he shows how the world has fallen into depravity and that human beings are fallen and broken creatures. He continues the discussion by showing that God provided a way for our redemption through having faith in Jesus Christ. He has gone to great pains to demonstrate that legalism and attempting to "be good enough" or to "do enough" cannot earn our salvation. Only when we have faith in Jesus Christ can we have "peace with God" (see Romans 5). Yesterday we saw how in Romans 7 Paul describes in inner conflict and the struggle to do the right thing.

Here in Chapter 8, the discussion shifts to why winning the inner battle is so very important. Following the way of my old broken inner self leads to death but following the way of God's Holy Spirit leads to life. In some way every choice, every decision, every movement in our lives leads us deeper into the way of our broken nature or deeper into the healing presence and power of the Holy Spirit. C.S. Lewis argues that every choice we make is making us into a more heavenly creature -- destined for eternity in heaven -- or a more hellish creature -- destined for a whole different kind of eternity. Every step toward heaven makes it easier to move toward heaven, every step toward hell makes it easier to move toward hell.

Through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit we find making better decisions and choices easier. Through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit we live into the process of transformation. There are two other things that help us. First, Romans 8:28 reminds us that God is working a plan in and through us and will use every experience to move his plan of salvation forward. Second, in Romans 8:1 we are reminded that we no longer live our lives under condemnation. When we sin we have access to forgiveness. When we fail we have a God who picks us up. When we rebel, because we are adopted sons and daughters of God we cannot be disowned and are drawn back by love and grace to where we belong.

This is the essence of a new life in Christ. We are free from the guilt of sin, we are free to choose to become the kind of people God originally created us to become.

Dr. BJ

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