Page 19 - January 2022 - Truth & Tidings
P. 19

“          ithout the Spirit of God, we can   and determination. The fruit is not “of the

                                              flesh” but “of the Spirit.” It is His energy
                 do nothing. We are as ships
        Wwithout  wind;  like  branches       at work within us.
        without sap, we are withered; like coals   Romans 6-8 is teaching a similar lesson.
        without fire, we are useless.”  In order to   According to Romans 6, in Christ Jesus we
        be regenerated, we were utterly depen-  died to sin and are now alive to God. But
        dent upon the power of the Holy Spirit.   if we pursue righteous living, for example,
        And in order to be sanctified, we are still   through a determination to keep the law,
        completely dependent upon the power of   we will experience the despair of Romans
        the Holy Spirit.                      7. We each need to learn and remember
        Our Inability to Sanctify Ourselves   that “nothing good dwells in me, that is,
          “I  am  determined  to  be  holy!”  may   in my flesh. For I have the desire to do
        sound spiritual, but we will never be able   what is right, but not the ability to carry
                                              it out” (Rom 7:18).
        to fulfill it in our own strength. “The flesh
        is weak” (Mat 26:41),  the Lord taught, and   The Spirit Makes All the Difference
        our own experience confirms that sheer   Tied to the frustration of Romans 7 is
        determination alone does not produce   the almost complete absence of the Holy
        righteous living nor can it overcome the   Spirit (He is mentioned only in verse 6,
        power of sin. “The flesh is no help at all”   anticipating the next chapter). But once
        (Joh 6:63). Not only do we struggle with   the ministry of the Holy Spirit is empha-
        natural, physical limitations, but there   sized in Romans 8 (15 times in the first
        is also an evil principle within us – also   16 verses), we find freedom and victory.
        called “the flesh” in a negative, ethical   Romans 6-8 have been helpfully compared
        sense  – and it is hopelessly corrupt. In   to the experience of Lazarus in John 11. He
        no sense was our flesh improved at con-  died and was made alive again (Rom 6),
        version.                              but when he first came out of the tomb, he
          Galatians clearly describes the war go-  was still wrapped in grave clothes, bound
                                              by that limitation (Rom 7). “Unbind him,
        ing on inside the Christian: “The desires   and  let  him  go”  (Joh  11:44),  the  Lord
        of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the   said – and that freedom corresponds to
        desires of the Spirit are against the flesh,   the Spirit’s work for us in Romans 8. The
        for these are opposed to each other, to   righteousness to which God calls us is
        keep you from doing the things you want   only possible because we “walk not ac-
        to do” (5:17). The flesh wants to produce   cording to the flesh but according to the
        its evil works, listed in verses 19-21. The   Spirit” (Rom 8:4).
        Spirit wants to produce His fruit, listed   Neither the law nor the flesh (Scripture
        in verses 22-23. Let me reiterate, beloved   links them closely) justified us, and nei-
        – we do not win this war in our strength   ther the law nor the flesh can sanctify us.
        ¹ Charles Spurgeon, A Revival Promise, sermon   “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now
        preached Jan 11, 1874, on Isa 43:3-5.  being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal 3:3). Of
        ² All Scripture quotations in this article are from
        the ESV unless otherwise noted.       course not. Sanctification is only possible
        ³ cf. Rom 7:5; Gal 5:13               through the ministry of the Spirit of God
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