Rev Aly Tunstall

Reading: Romans 8 vs1-11

Last week we talked about sin, what sin is, how it makes us feel, where sin leaves us, and hopefully made us look deep into our own lives. One of the things it made me dwell on was that although sin seems, and indeed for a time can be enjoyable, in the end it only brings about death, regret, feelings of guilt and imprisonment.

I’m sure you will agree not the best outcome. But that doesn’t need to be the case because today our reading brings good news for those who live by Gods spirit. Verse 1-2 says:

There is no condemnation now for those who live in union with Christ Jesus. For the law of the spirit, which brings us life in union with Christ Jesus, has set me free from the law of sin and death.

Whenever we come before Jesus and ask for his forgiveness, he gives it to us in abundance, and what’s more, he not only forgives but wipes the slate clean. He sees us free and without blemish. Therefore we can start again – and believe me, it’s never too late to start again. Why though can’t we get forgiveness through the law, why did it have to be through the death and resurrection of Jesus?

Well, simply put, the Law was there to give the Jews guidance in how to live a Godly life, and it was also the mechanism for atoning for their sins. That being said, the law on its own could not bring us salvation because apart from anything else we are weak in the flesh or earthly desires. Therefore, we are too weak to obey the law – only Jesus could do this. Paul though goes on to say that it’s not the fault of the law but because our human nature was weak. Therefore, we needed something more.

Here’s the most amazing news that’s at the heart of the gospel – it’s that God loves us all so much that he sent his son to pay the price for our sins. Verse 3 says:

What the law could not do, because human nature was week, God did. He condemned sin in human nature by sending his own son, who came with a nature like our sinful nature, to do away with sin.

Its always good to see the same message somewhere else in the bible so if we look at John 3: 16 says this:

For God so loved the world so much that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life

That’s how much God loves and wants a relationship with us. Can you imagine what that must have felt like, giving up your child to die for someone else? It’s absolutely mind blowing.

What was it about Jesus that meant he could pay the price for our sins? Well simply put, in the old testament the way to atone for sins was by taking an animal to a high priest once a year, who would sacrifice the animal on the person’s behalf. The animal had to be perfect, without blemish and God accepted this sacrifice as an atonement for sin.

The thing was because of our human weakness (due to the ‘condition of sin’ as I talked about last week) the people would go through the ritual but then revert back to doing the things that were not of God. So, because of his love for us, God provided a permanent solution and he sent Jesus in human form to die on the cross and be the perfect sacrifice.

It had to be a human as it was humanities sin that took us away from God. That being said, no one human being could bear the weight of the world’s sin and because the sacrifice had to be perfect, the only human that has ever been perfect is Jesus. That’s because although he was fully human he was also fully divine, therefore he was without sin and was able to be the once and for all, perfect sacrifice for sin. Through Jesus, we are able to find not only forgiveness but salvation also.

That then means when we come into relationship with Jesus we are filled with his Spirit rather than remaining with the spirit of the flesh. When we are filled with the Spirit we begin to see who God is and how he calls us to live.

As Christians we need to be led by the Holy Spirit and when we allow the spirit to lead us we become more able to fulfil the law. Paul makes it clear that we need to be led by the Spirit as oppose to the law, verse 5 says this:

Those who live as their human nature tells them. to, have their minds controlled by what human nature wants, those who live as the spirit tells them to, have their minds controlled by what the spirit wants and to be controlled by human nature results in death.

Also verse 7 says:

And so people become enemies of god when they are controlled by their human nature; for they do not obey gods law, and in fact they cannot obey it. Those who obey their human nature cannot please God

This is because God cannot be in the presence of sin, so if we live by the flesh and sin, we cause a divide between us and God and so cannot come into his presence. The great news is because of what Jesus did for us we can confidently come into God’s presence once again. As Christians who live by the Spirit we become more in tune with God’s will for our lives, we begin to see the law in a new way and long to please God. Our relationship grows with him and we begin to blossom and bear fruit – we become new people who are one with Christ, heirs to his throne. Eternal life with Jesus is the hope that Paul is talking about. So the question really is who’s side are we on? Are we led by the flesh or the Spirit? We all have a choice to make – it really is a matter of life or death.

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