Last week we looked at the promise that we were buried with Christ and our sinful nature was taken away. This leaves our flesh unemployed, but us free to pursue life in the Spirit. This week we are going to look at the life in the Spirit. Let’s begin by looking at John 12:23-25
23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.
24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
25 “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Jesus was about to face crucifixion, and He first pointed at His own life to teach that until He dies, a fruit-bearing life cannot emerge. He immediately transitions into connecting His work to our lives. You also cannot live until your life has died to the flesh. Until you die, you remain alone. If you maintain this temporal life of the flesh, you cannot live, but death remains upon you. But if you die with Christ, eternal life emerges. To understand how we died with Christ, I recommend reviewing the earlier message, The Crucified Life.
Let’s take a few moments to see how His death produced our life. Look now at Isaiah 52:13-14
13 Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently; He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.
14 Just as many were astonished at you, So His visage was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men;
Who is God’s servant? According to Philippians 2, Jesus existed in the form of God, but veiled His glory and took on the form of a bondservant for the purpose of becoming obedient to death. Therefore, God has highly exalted Him.
This was foretold here in Isaiah. He will be exalted, but before that, we will be astonished at His marred appearance. Jesus will be marred more than any man. This prophecy given before Christ was speaking of his two-fold punishment. Jesus was first marred by being scourged with a cat of nine tails. This is a whip with pieces of sharp rock or other tearing material woven into the tip. It was intended to rip the flesh with each stripe. The whip would strike the back, and the punisher would yank the whip back to intentionally tear away the flesh.
This was normally the end of punishment, but Jesus was also condemned to die, so He was led away to be crucified. Condemned men were humiliated by having them carry their cross up the hill where they knew death awaited them. Because Jesus was so marred, He didn’t even have the strength to carry the cross, so a bystander was summonsed to carry it for Him.
Six inch nails were then driven through His wrists. Most translations use the word ‘hands’ but the Greek word for hands also includes the wrists. The hands didn’t have enough strength to support a human body, so crucifixion used the gap between the two bones in the wrist. It’s also one of the most painful places to be pierced.
Nails were driven between the space in the center of the feet, two to three inches behind the toes. Another agonizing place to be pierced. When someone hung from the cross, the weight pulling against their chest made breathing nearly impossible. Each labored breath required the convict to push up on the nail in their feet so they could release the pressure against their ribcage. Crucifixion was intended for maximum pain, and maximum humiliation. Knowing this makes the next passage clearer, Isaiah 53:3-6
3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 52 says that Jesus is about to be highly exalted, but before this He will be marred more than any man, and He must go through the shame of Isaiah 53. Man will hide his face from Christ. This means the people will disown Him. Everyone will turn their backs on Him. His disciples will forsake Him out of fear, and the people will turn their backs on Him out of hate.
Satan is delighting in the torment, yet God was working a magnificent plan. The very stripes being laid on Jesus’ back were creating the flow of love that would soon be offered to His enemies for redemption. His bruises were for our sins. His stripes were for our healing. His rejection was for our acceptance. During the midst of this brutal act, God was laying your iniquities upon Him, so that your sins could be put to death in Him and new life emerge. Until you die with Him, you remain dead in your sins. But when we trust in Him, we are accounted as dead indeed to sin, but alive to God. And we are promised a new life – which we receive when we put our trust in Him. Look at this amazing promise from Ezekiel 36:26-27
26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
And this is from the Old Testament! God is foretelling of the day when God will take away our stony heart of sin and give us a new heart that is tender toward God. He then takes our dead nature away, and gives us a new spirit. Not only that, but His own Spirit will also be placed within us, and we will then have perfect fellowship with God.
Your old nature based on a spirit born into sin can never have fellowship with God. But when God takes away our sin, He gives us a new spirit AND His Holy Spirit. This is why we are called the temple of God.
But wait! There’s more! God then promises to be the driving force of good in our life, so that He causes us to walk in His ways and do His will. This is why the book of Romans tells us that the Gentile Christians, those who knew nothing about the law, did by nature the things written in the law, proving that the law of God was written on their hearts.
It is only when people are taught to walk in the flesh that they begin to struggle with sin again. We are called to walk according to our new nature, then the old sins have no power. Sin is defeated in the life of the Spirit. It cannot be defeated by human effort. Nor can faith be lived through human effort. We learn to walk in new life, and then righteous living is a natural way of acting. It is by nature that you keep God’s ways. It cannot be by forcing our flesh to live by a godly standard.
The Spirit subdues the flesh to make us instruments of righteousness. The flesh cannot be the focus, for it cannot change itself. Or as the Bible says, “The body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness.” Life lived through the flesh will always produce sin. But you are not in the flesh if the Spirit of Christ is in you. Now you must learn how to walk according to your nature, and not according to the dictates of the flesh.
The resurrection of Christ is your power. Look at Romans 8:11-15
11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors– not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.
13 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.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
It is God’s Spirit that gives life to your mortal bodies. Everything of God comes through the Spirit. One of the evidences of life is God’s Spirit transforming your outward life into an instrument of righteousness according to the inward man – a new nature born by the Spirit. You cannot make your body become a Christian. You cannot redeem your body. Until your body is changed at the resurrection, it will always be dead because of sin. Thankfully, we are given two important promises here.
Your body is constantly given life – if you are in the Spirit. Second, your body is always in sin, but you are not subject to the body – it is subject to you. The only way sin can reign over you is if you submit yourself back into the flesh.
You are given new life, and that spirit within you desires the things of God. The body desires sin, but when your mind is focused on the Spirit, you are walking by faith and God subdues your sins, God empowers you to walk in His will, and God empowers you to do His works. It is His Spirit working in you; not you working to produce good works for Him.
Sin has no power in the Spirit. It is God’s work and He blesses you for possessing His free gift of life. Let’s now look at Romans 4:23-25
23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him,
24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,
25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
The resurrection is your justification. His death was the payment for your sin, and His life is the deliverance of your justification. You live because He rose. You are justified through the resurrection, not based on your own actions or merits. What must you do to please God? According to the Bible, without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith in what He has done. Faith in His works. Faith in His righteousness. Trusting in His resurrection.
When the people asked Jesus, “What must we do to work the works of God?” Jesus answered, “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom the Father has sent.” Jesus was sent, and your only work is to believe on Christ! You are saved by grace through faith, not of works. You now live by grace through faith, and not of works.
Works is God’s Spirit performing His will in you, and then He gives life to your mortal body so that you can outwardly manifest the life that is being transformed inwardly. The more your mind grows in faith, the more your outward life will both depart from sin and do the works of God.
Because of the resurrection, you have new life, and you are freed from sin. Look at Romans 6:4, 7-12
4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
Your old nature was buried, and you now are in the new life. It is an accomplished fact, if your faith is in Christ. If you have died with Christ, you have been (past tense) freed from sin. Sin no longer has dominion over you. You are free. Death has no dominion over you, for as we looked at last week, sin and death condemned sin, but Jesus condemned sin in the flesh and nailed both our sin and the law that condemned us to the cross. You are free.
If this is true, why does sin trouble us? Why do we struggle with sin? The Bible says we are no longer under the law, because we are no longer in the flesh. We now have the law of faith and the law of righteousness. Our new nature does not need the letter of condemnation, for it desires to serve God alone.
Yet the Bible says that we can submit again under sin and the law. The Bible says, “Do you not know that whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slave whom you obey? This is true whether we are submitting to sin leading to death, or obedience leading to righteousness.
The flesh rises up and wars against your mind, demanding your submission to its desire to sin. If a child walks onto a playground and says, “I’m in charge,” what happens? If he has a strong personality, he might convince many, if not all, the children to submit to his claim of authority. But what happens if someone says, “No, you aren’t the boss?” His authority is gone. His authority is dependent upon your submission.
Now what happens if your boss comes up and says, “This is what I want you to do?” He has authority and either you do what has been commanded or there will be consequences.
Your authority comes from above, not from the earth. Your flesh is dependent upon you being convinced you must submit to its demands, but the Bible says, “No. Reckon yourself dead indeed to sin, but alive to God.”
To reckon is to account something as true. It is to believe, knowing something is certain. You have certainly died to the flesh; therefore, when you reckon that to be true, you will be stripping the flesh’s claim to authority over your mind. When you reckon yourself alive, you are putting your trust in the truth of God’s promise of life.
Let’s conclude by looking at Isaiah 54. Isaiah 52 speaks of Christ’s exaltation after He is marred more than any man. Chapter 53 explains the purpose of the crucifixion. He was wounded for your iniquities, striped for your healing, bruised for your sins, and rejected for your acceptance. Everything negative to you has been laid to His account, so that everything positive with Jesus is laid to your account. Isaiah 54 gives us a glimpse of how we now are viewed by God. Look at Isaiah 54:8-9
8 With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,” Says the LORD, your Redeemer.
9 “For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; For as I have sworn That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, So have I sworn That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.
In the Old Testament, God gave a rainbow as a symbol of His promise to never flood the entire earth again. Never again will He wipe out all life on earth because of man’s sin. This is a certainty and God cannot lie. It will always stand as a promise.
Now that the work of Christ has been completed, a new covenant of God has been given. God has sworn that once we are in Christ, He will never again be angry at us or rebuke us. Our sins are cast into the depths of the see. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. His anger was laid upon Him, so His favor could be laid upon you.
Do you believe God’s declaration of His oath of promise? It’s only found in Christ. When you put your trust in Christ, you are now under the covenant of promise, and the Bible says that we are saved from wrath through Christ.
For a moment, God hid His face. Through the law, man was under condemnation. Man could never attain to righteousness, and that is the purpose of the law. It showed how helpless we are to rise to the acceptable standard of God – which is perfection. But that moment has passed. Now we have passed from death to life, and are accounted as sons of God – both male and female. This is explained in Romans 5:1-2
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
We are all inheritors of the promise. Never again will we be under wrath if we are in Christ. That is God’s oath. This is a certainty!
Eddie Snipes 2014
Listen to Eddie’s weekly podcast at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/hollydale-baptist-church/id893226987