Most believers waste time trying to figure out how “to do” Christianity better. We search the Scriptures and self-help books looking for the “12 steps to faith,” “5 steps to better Christian living,” “3 keys to grace”, etc.
I’ve got good news and bad news.
The bad news is we don’t do anything to make ourselves better Christians. There are no tricks, no techniques, no manipulations.
The good news is we don’t do anything to make ourselves better Christians; making you better (holy) is part of God’s gift of grace. As we trust the Spirit at work in our lives, we will be saved from doing wrong and we will increasingly become the kind of person who does good.
Paul’s main point in Romans 8 is: the believer’s “job” is to rest in the Spirit of God. The gospel is not a new technique to get your act together. Instead it is the truly good news that God will make you holy. There are no bargains and no conditions. Glory is guaranteed.
Not not that we are completely passive. We actively live our lives, but it is the Spirit’s work in our lives that makes a difference. Here’s how Romans 8 makes this point:
In Romans 7 as part of his answer about the role of the Law, Paul describes “moral paralysis.” On the one hand, I desire to be righteous, I agree with the Law, and I resolve to keep the Law. But on the other hand, I continue failing and doing the very thing that I do not wish to do. I’m trapped in my sinfulness. Whatever mechanism that I thought would control my sin — rituals, will power, grit, resolve, determination — doesn’t work. I am “morally paralyzed.”
The solution to this moral paralysis is faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1-11).
Salvation can come about through faith in Jesus Christ (when it couldn’t come through the Law) because the resources of Spirit of God are now available to us through faith in Jesus; and the resources of the Spirit make holiness possible. The Law could not make me righteous, because the Law did not solve this problem of our moral paralysis. But because of grace, God gives us His Spirit and it is through the Spirit of God we are actually made righteous.
Romans 8:12-14 is the summary statement: Trusting yourself to gain holiness (legalism) leads to death in our present experience; Trusting in the Spirit of God to gain holiness leads to life in our present experience.
Romans 8:15-30 – Two things are true about those who trust the Spirit of God to make them righteous.
- Romans 8:15-25 – 1) the Spirit of God produces within believers an agonizing grief over sinfulness and a longing for righteousness.
- Romans 8:26-30 -2) because of the activity of the Spirit in our lives, we can have confidence that everything that happens to us is in our own best interests.
The Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26); the Spirit’s intercession is effective (Romans 8:27) and due to the work of the Spirit we can have confidence that everything that happens to us is designed to bring us our inheritance (Romans 8:28-30).
Because our inheritance depends on the activity of God and His Spirit — instead of on our own self-effort — we can have absolute confidence that we’ll gain it (Romans 8:31-39). Glory is guaranteed.
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