Faithlife
Faithlife

Br Road 2 Sept 2001 pm Voice of the Spirit

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The Voice of the Spirit

Romans 8

. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;  v6

And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  v15

the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. V 26

This morning we considered the subject of the Voice of God : this evening we turn to one of the greatest chapters of the New Testament to consider the Voice of the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is a sensitive subject for many people, and at a time like this when a fellowship is gearing itself up to select a successor for the office of Pastor there can be a sense of unease about such a vital – but controversial theme.  We want to address the doctrine for it is crucial to the health of the Church, but we want to avoid even the faintest whiff of emotionalism or extremism.

It’s a real problem.  How to get to grips with the doctrine of the Holy Spirit without giving people the feeling that the subject may divide the church! 

I hope that, as we address the issue from one of the greatest doctrinal passages of Paul we shall feel at ease.   This is not 1 Corinthians – it’s bedrock Romans.

Nevertheless I was surprised as I turned to these well known verses to see just how emotionally charged they are.

I hope that this evening for a while at least we shall be able to hear the Spirit – maybe even feel His presence as we consider

THE VOICE OF THE SPIRIT

I offer you a short sermon on a long text with these headings :

·        The voice of quiet confidence                                       vv 1-11

·        The voice of family conversation                                   vv 12-25

·        The voice of intercession                                             vv 26,27 and the end

A.  The voice of quiet confidence              vv 1-11

Well, that’s a relief!  Quiet confidence – not much likelihood of extremism here then.

The verse is v. 6        

but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;

Ah, I’m feeling reassured already.

But, steady on – notice the word “controlled”.

Of course that’s the theme of the chapter, isn’t it?  Confidence that is.  The wonderful words

No condemnation…

 

Notice what Paul says about this aspect of the Spirit’s work and voice

It is an inner voice – but a truly confident voice:

(a)    SET FREE          vv 1-4

 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

Can you hear that inner voice of the Holy Spirit?

Do you know that sense of freedom – freedom from the penalty of sin, freedom from the need to sin, freedom from the bondage of sin?

We sense the Lord Jesus breathing upon His disciples “My peace I give you..”

We hear the Word of God as the Spirit applies the work of Calvary to our lives saying that we are liberated.

The burden of sin rolls away – and the Holy Spirit tells me that Christ has met the requirements of the justice of God.

FREE!

A breath of fresh air – an indwelling of the Breath of God – the Holy Spirit.

(b)    CONTROLLED                                                     vv 5-9a

5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.

Now we may jib at that just a bit.  We are not used to the idea of being controlled – we like to think of our freedom as absence of control.  But the reality is quite different.

We realise of course what it means to be controlled by the sinful nature

Where everything we did was influenced by selfishness, pride and sin in all its forms.

Paul reminds us that our QUIET CONFIDENCE is about freedom AND control – the control of the Holy Spirit.

Are you ready for that?

And not just in matters spiritual. He speaks of the “mind controlled by the Spirit” which is “life and peace”.

When our Lord died for us He did not only take away our sin – he took control, and that control is exercised by the quietly working Holy Spirit.

You hand over not just the rubbish of your life but the rudder of your life.

If we are going to live life to the full we need to surrender to the Holy Spirit’s control.

I find that I give lip-service to that idea more readily than I give myself daily to the control of the Spirit.

(c)    MADE ALIVE                               vv 10,11

10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

Ah a quiet confidence indeed!   The voice of the Spirit reminds me that I am no longer dead in sin – but alive to God!

And notice again the two-sided nature of this confidence

The body – the old nature – dead

The spirit – the new nature – very much alive

But the power of this life is all pervading so that  our human natures – our “mortal decaying bodies” are given life – resurrection life.

So the Spirit speaks in a voice of QUIET CONFIDENCE

I am reassured – but challenged.

The next point is rather more animated – if not to say LOUDER:

B.  The Voice of family conversation           vv12-25

What? Family conversation?

Yes exactly that.

Paul uses almost exactly the same idea in Galatians – so there’s no getting away from it  (Galatians 4 v 6).

14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Now home in on the verse that says what the Holy Spirit is saying:

BY HIM WE CRY ABBA FATHER

Paul uses a phrase which was probably widely used in the Church.  It was used by Jesus Himself:

MARK 14 35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”[1]

It’s an intimate word, as I’m sure you know.

A word used within the family.   Hence the Holy Spirit’s voice is the voice of Family conversation.

If you read the verse in Romans in The Message it reads:

greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?”

That’s astonishing isn’t it?

Yet that is what this is all about. The Voice of the Holy Spirit is the voice whereby we address God with total confidence.

The whole passage  (12-25) is about this FAMILY CONVERSATION

(a)    V15 a   The Spirit of adoption (AV)

15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.

I think the KJV has it better “adoption” – but it means emphatically  we are His family members.

A word of belonging. A clear identity as  v14 says   “those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God”

But the tone of Paul’s words here is:

(b)    v15b        Delight

. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

There are two aspects to the Voice of the Spirit here :

An exuberant delight in God

Abba Father

greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?”

Can you hear the tone of it?

Now don’t sit there all formal – relax a bit – think of the best parts of family life, the sharing and the excitement of it all – the Christian Life – Life in the Spirit is like that but infinitely better!

But there’s also the quiet restrained side:

16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

The inner voice of the Spirit.

 (c)   vv 17 – 25  Expectation

Paul describes the way the creation is involved as well – and it’s quite noisy!

17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

It’s really getting excited – at the prospect of all that God is doing and is going to do.

And, finally:

C.  The Voice of intercession            vv 26,27

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

You see?  The voice of the Spirit on our behalf, full of energy and feeling and indeed passion.

Where language fails He takes over, and such is the wonder of His Voice that God hears the needs of the saints in accordance with His will.

Ever been unsure what to pray?  The Holy Spirit interprets – not in some clinical translation – but with all the feeling and noise of His voice on our behalf.

(a) Expressive

(b) Effective

(c) Confident

So I commend to you this slightly different view of Romans 8 – full of the confident utterances of the Holy Spirit – within us and on our behalf.

And should we fear Him who moves within the Church bringing “Christ to every soul and mine”? No! 

Listen out for Him – for we may hear His ministry.

And where does it take us?

Here’s the remaining verses summed up  in three phrases:

We know           28-30

We say              31-36                have a listen to the Church echoing His voice

We are more than conquerors!   (37-39)


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[1]The New International Version - Anglicised, (London: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd.) 1984.

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