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Freedom from Defeat (Romans 8:5-17)

Pastor Heo, Romans: The Righteousness of God, Sermons

Freedom from Defeat (Romans 8:5-17)

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Freedom from Defeat

Romans 8:5-17 (Pastor Heo)

5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life 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 because of his Spirit who lives in you. 12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to 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.


Romans 8 = Christian’s declaration of freedom in Christ by the Holy Spirit.

We have 4 spiritual freedoms we can enjoy in Christ NOW:

  1. No condemnation (judgment) = Assurance of Salvation (“Therefore there is no condemnation in Christ…”)
  2. Freedom from defeat (sense of loss) – no obligation to the flesh

Yes, we have flesh, but we have no obligation to the sinful nature any longer.

v. 12 “12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.”

The emphasis of this chapter = Holy Spirit

(also many times today he is mentioned – at least 19x) – and related to this, there are 3 levels of LIFE in this world. What level do you live?

  1. Level 1: No Holy Spirit life
  2. Level 2: Holy Spirit life
  3. Level 3: Holy Spirit-owned life

v. 5-8 “5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”

These verses are not about 2 kinds of Christian life – but rather a comparison between the Unsaved person (Level 1) and the Saved person (Level 2/3). There are 4 contrasts.

  1. in the flesh vs. in the Spirit
  2. death vs. life
  3. hostile to God vs. peace with God
  4. pleasing self vs. pleasing God

Which are you in? Pleasing yourself or pleasing God?

#1 In the flesh vs. In the Spirit

  • In the flesh = mind fixed on the things that satisfy the flesh
  • In the Spirit = mind fixed on the things that satisfy the Holy Spirit (things above)

#2 Death vs. Life

  • Unsaved = physical life / spiritual death – no matter how rich, religious, educated, etc = he is DEAD – because only Jesus says, “I AM the Life.” – outside Christ, there is no life.
  • Saved = physical life / spiritual life

#3 Hostile to God vs. Peace with God

Romans 5:1 “Therefore since we have been justified by faith in Jesus, we have peace with God through Christ”

#4 Pleasing self vs. Pleasing God

  • We were all created in the image of God to please God – and we cannot be TRULY joyful by pleasing ourselves. Only pleasing God makes us truly happy.

This doesn’t mean that the Unsaved never does anything good, nor that the Saved never does anything bad. It just means that the mindset / bent of the lives is different. One lives for God, one lives for himself.

Mindset is very important. You can check your own mindset.

Level 1: No Holy Spirit

When a person decides to do something or hold a certain belief, that person has a certain mindset. What is the function of “mindset”?

  1. It determines HOW you act / behave
  2. It motivates you to ACTION
  3. It influences who / what we choose as a source of knowledge / authority
  4. It affects our view of every experience
  5. It shapes our own value system
  6. It dominates your private and public lives

Every person has their own mindset, but all mindsets can be reduced to TWO categories:

  1. Sinful – about the flesh
  2. Spiritual – about the Spirit

These two mindsets are not a part of one person, they are not forces in one person. They are powers of two lands.

  • The sinful mindset, consciously and unconsciously is related to death, rebellion against God, not pleasing God with actions and attitudes.
  • The spiritual mindset, consciously and unconsciously is oriented to life, peace, friendship with God, obedience to the Holy Spirit’s influence, guided by love for his/her neighbors and keeping the Word of Jesus Christ.

Which mindset do you have?

Level 2: Holy Spirit life

v 9-11 “9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life 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 because of his Spirit who lives in you. “

The evidence of conversion is the presence of the Holy Spirit within – witnessing that you are a child of God. Through our conversion, our bodies become the very temple of the Holy Spirit (not this building) – your body.

1 Cor 6:19-20 “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who lives within you? You are not your own, you were bought at a price, therefore glorify God with your body.”

God gives us life to serve him. If (when) we die one day, our bodies will be raised like the body of Christ.

v. 11 “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 because of his Spirit who lives in you.”

This guarantees the resurrection of Jesus as our resurrection (therefore, 1 Cor = “the first fruits of the resurrection for those who belong to him”)

The logic of this verse =

  1. The Holy Spirit raised Christ from the dead
  2. This same Holy Spirit lives in you forever
  3. This same Holy Spirit will raise you also from the dead

This means, just like Jesus’ resurrected body, our bodies will be in the same nature as Jesus’ resurrected body (immortal, imperishable, heavenly, spiritual, honorable, tangible, recognizable, visible, touchable, physical).

In the NT, the Holy Spirit was very active in the life and ministry of Christ. That’s why he’s called “Another Counselor” – as Jesus’ substitute for his continual ministry.

  • In his first birth, Christ was conceived by the HS.
  • He was anointed by the HS at his water baptism.
  • Jesus received the HS and led into the desert to be tempted – and begin his ministry.
  • Through the HS, he performed all his miracles.
  • The HS was active in his death and resurrection.
  • Jesus requested his Father send the HS.

“Receive the HS” (“Receive MY Spirit”) – Matt 28:20 “And I am with you always to the very end of the Age.” (Through the HS)

Acts 1:8 “When the HS comes on you, you will receive power and be my witnesses in Judea, Samaria, and to the very ends of the earth.”

Do you call Jesus ‘Lord’? Then you are calling him ‘Lord’ by the power of the Holy Spirit – whether you recognize it or not.

Level 3: Spirit-owned life

If we have the HS within, we are saved (Level 2). But it is not enough to merely HAVE the HS. The HS must HAVE US. He must possess us as his own things.

v. 12-17 “12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to 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.”

It is not enough to HAVE the HS.

The HS must have US.

We do not have an obligation to the flesh (the Old Self) – but we do have an obligation to the HS.

  • “I have an obligation to the Holy Spirit.”
  • “We have an obligation to the Holy Spirit.”

The sentence “I have no obligation to the flesh” means at the same time “I have an obligation to the Holy Spirit” – because it is Jesus who saved us and gave us eternal life when we believed in him and trusted in him.

Holy Spirit names (x4)

1. The Spirit of Life

Empowers us to obey – to become more and more like Christ

2. The Spirit of Death

Only he can enable us to put to death the sinful deeds of the flesh – as we surrender the members of our body to the Spirit – he applies in us the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ –

Only he puts to death the sinful nature / actions of the body – and

Only he reproduces the spirit of a saint

Gal “Those who belong to Jesus Christ have crucified the sinful nature.”

Because we live by the Spirit we will not live by the flesh – because they both desire conflicting things – that’s why the Bible strongly asserts that we “Live by the Spirit”

3. The Spirit of Adoption

(v. 15) “you received the Spirit of sonship and by him we cry out , ‘Abba, Father!'”

At that time, in the NT, the word ‘adoption’ means being placed as an adult child in a family – we come into the family of God – and at that moment, God adopts us – giving us the position of adult son/daughter (not as a baby) –

Yes, in our physical life, a baby cannot speak, walk, draw upon family wealth, etc.

But believers CAN do all these things the instant they are “born again” – because we are adopted as adult children.

  • “All fear is gone” –
  • 2 Tim 1:7 “God did not give us a Spirit of timidity (fear), but he gave us a Spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” –

Remember FEAR is NOT from God – it is from the devil, the flesh.

  • Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in thanksgiving with prayer and petition, present your requests to God.” –

God NEVER gives us a spirit of fear. HS continually encourages us to call God, “Abba, Father.”

This means “Papa, daddy” – this is a term of endearment – a term of intimacy and respect. Even today, this is a term used by Hebrew children in addressing their fathers.

Jesus also used this expression when he prayed to God in Gethsemane – just before his crucifixion.

  • “Abba Father, everything is possible for you. Please take this cup from me, but not my will – yours be done.”

Do you call God “Abba”? Not in public prayer, but in your private, personal prayer, try this. It is biblical. (Life, Death, Adoption)

4. The Spirit of Witness (Testimony) –

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

In the NT time, adoption means “receiving as adult children” – yes, salvation is spoken in several terms: regeneration, sanctification, adoption.

  • In regeneration, we receive NEW LIFE – a New Nature.
  • In justification, NEW STANDING
  • In sanctification, NEW CHARACTER
  • In adoption, NEW POSITION – as an adult son/daughter

We need to understand the background of the society at that time. Rome was very developed in a Law system. The policy of adoption was very common.

If a person was adopted as a son, he was automatically legally the same as a natural son – in rights, duties, privileges, responsibilities, inheritance.

The obligation to us is like this:

  • Jesus Christ is the ORIGINAL Son of God.
  • We are adopted sons/daughters.
  • Legally, we are exactly the same as Jesus Christ in our duties, rights, responsibilities, privileges, inheritance.

That’s why the last verse says:

v. 17 “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.”

We are the same with Christ in his suffering and his glory – because we are the same with him in duties and inheritance.

This is our application (v. 17)

Memorize this.

Let’s pray.

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