Put to death the deeds of the body and live by the Spirit
Lesson Text: Romans 8:12-14
Preached in Quabbin Valley on 4/5/09
The nation of Israel was in captivity and slavery for around 430 years. The life they lived was a life of hard bitter slavery. They didn’t have Saturday and Sundays off of work they didn’t have even one day off. They worked seven days a week.
There came a point in time when the Pharaoh says, these Hebrews are breeding like rabbits, they need to be killed off or they will over run us. So the command goes out that all the male children are to be killed, thrown into the river. After a long period of time God raises us a man named Moses and tells him to go back down to Egypt where he was from but latter ran away. God send him down to tell Pharaoh to let God’s people go and after a ten lesson bible study Pharaoh finally lets the people of Israel go and after they cross the red sea they start their journey to the promise land a land flowing with milk and honey they were told. But they were going to journey in the wilderness for forty years first. But they were free right. Who cares that they have to wonder and walk a tough road isn’t it better to be free. Going to a place of health and a place all their own. And we even have God with us as he manifested himself as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, isn’t this great.
God by his mighty hand brings them out of Egypt and we read:
Exodus 14:10 When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD. 11 They said to Moses, "Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness." (Exo 14:10 ESV)
This after God had showed himself to all the people in Egypt by the ten plagues. God saves later on even gives them bread from heaven called Manna and after a short time it says:
Numbers 11:4 Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, "Oh that we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. 6 But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at." (Num 11:4 ESV)
1) Put to death the deeds of the body
We were at one time, those of us who are Christians, we were slaves, we were slaves to Satan and to sin. Sin ruled our lives and we were in bitter slavery. Our lives were not wonderful they were full of death and heartache. Romans chapter six makes this clear that at one time we were slaves to sin. We obeyed sin and ran after the lusts of our flesh, drinking, doing drugs, have sex outside of marriage or committing adultery.
But we were rescued, saved, taken out of bondage to sin, and taken out of Egypt by God. We were saved by the blood of the lamb but we like Israel have to journey through the desert. We are on our way to a promised land, sometimes we call it heaven but it’s not living in the sky that were talking about it’s a new heavens and new earth. Paul will go on in Romans eight to talk about the creation longing to be renewed, waiting to be set free to be restored. We are headed for the resurrection of our bodies, our bodies will be changed to be like Christ’s resurrected body and the whole creation will be changed to be the way it was supposed to be before sin and death.
But just like the Israelites we sometimes think it would be better back in Egypt. If we just went back to indulging in sin, it wouldn’t be so hard. Look some of our friends and family are still living in sin and they are all having a great time and they are all healthy and they are all enjoying life. If we just went back to Egypt we wouldn’t have to struggle because following God and obey him is hard. I remember the fish, the cucumbers, the drinking the foul language, the good times we had in our lives of sin. We forget that in Egypt we were worked hard every day, we were in bitter oppression and were not happy at all. We were headed for death.
The Israelites had God with them and Christians have God in them. But it is hard to follow God as we are traveling through the desert. Paul has just finished talking about those who have the Spirit of God in them in chapter 8 of Romans. We have God with us as we wonder in this world, God who provides, God who keeps us and yet we think sometimes it would have been better to stay in Egypt to stay in our lives shackled to sin.
Paul says “If you live according to the flesh you will die”. He doesn’t say you might die but “you will die”. If we turn around and go back to living a life of sin, if we live according to the flesh, we will die and Paul is not talking about physical death just like God in Genesis when he spoke to Adam said in the day you eat this forbidden fruit you will die, was talking about spiritual death, separation from God for eternity. That’s what’s being discussed here.
What are the deeds of the flesh, what are some of the things Paul is talking about?
Galatians 5:19 (pg 868)Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal 5:19 ESV)
Live according to the flesh and you will die, if you do these things you will not inherit the kingdom of God, you will not enter the promise land. God will not be mocked; we cannot live lives in sin and rebellion to God and expect to have eternal life and a relationship with God.
Remember that not every Israelite who God saved out of Egypt and crossed over the red sea when into the Promised Land. Very few received the land, those whose hearts and deeds were in Egypt didn’t receive the gift. It’s time we wake up to reality. There is no such thing as once saved always saved. We must rely on Christ; we must live by the Spirit. This means we don’t live according to the deeds of the flesh.
2) Live by the Spirit
Paul goes on in Romans eight to say “but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live”. Not physical life but spiritual life, eternal life with God. Notice though that there is a reliance on God. “but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body”. Obviously we are active in this, we must want to live according to the Spirit we must trust in God to help us. This is an active reliance on God but we have to want to put to death the deeds of the body, the deeds of the flesh. There is an obedience to Christ that we are called to.
Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Gal 5:13 ESV)
Serve one another instead of envy or jealousy or hatred, serve one another, be a servant, like the one you and I claim as our master. Jesus said he came to serve not to be served I wonder if we have sometimes though that we are here to be served not to serve. Wrong. Is a servant above his master are we better than Christ that we should expect other to serve us? Were to serve one another that doesn’t mean that I look at you and say Oh, she’s suppose to serve me. No, I am to serve you. I don’t tell you to serve me and you don’t tell me to serve you we chose to serve others because that is what Jesus wants and it’s what Jesus did. I don’t know if we really get this, shut up about your rights. Jesus gave up his rights to die for you and me. If you don’t want to serve someone because your not sure you love them then serve them because Christ served you, died for you and me, wicked, unlovable sinners, enemies of God.
Galatians 6:8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Gal 6:8 ESV)
Rely on, have your mind set on the Spirit. Think about the deeds of the Spirit the fruits of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Gal 5:22 ESV)
Those who belong to Christ are those who live by the Spirit and walk by the Sprit those who love as Christ loved and they have put to death the deeds of the flesh and are constantly putting to death the deeds of the flesh.
Galatians 6:8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Gal 6:8 ESV)
Colossians 3:8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (Col 3:8 ESV)
N.T. Wright said: “A Christian life that does not involve putting to death that which drags us down into the world of the ‘flesh’ is not worthy of the name.”
I want to encourage all here today to consider what happened to the nation of Israel when they were brought out of slavery how many of them didn’t rely on God and trust him but rather had their hearts on Egypt and disobeyed him how most of them never entered the promised land. I want you to be encouraged to put to death the deeds of the flesh which will kill you and to rely on Christ, to live in humble obedience to him as we wonder this desert land waiting to take hold of our promised land the new heavens and the new earth with new resurrected bodies.
Let’s commune once again with our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ.