The 2018 new year celebrations have come and gone without giving much thought to a new years resolution until this week while preparing to lead my Friday morning mens Bible study on Romans 8. As I prepared, I could not escape the challenge to set a personal new years resolution based on the inspiration of the text. The more I have reflected on this challenge the more I see this as a resolution for my life, a challenge to the men who joined me in this study, and all who read this to consider for their new year resolution. Romans 8 is arguably the greatest chapter in all the Bible.
Following the dismal reality in chapter 7, Paul tells us that the law has jurisdiction over us (v1), our sinful passions are aroused by the law(v5), sin becomes alive and we are dead(v10), we wrestle with the conflict of two natures (v15), wretched men are we(v24) and ending with the question “who will set me free from this body of death?(v24). Romans 8:1 answers this dismal reality for those who believe in Jesus with the ASTOUNDING proclamation and greatest news that all of humanity could ever receive in Romans 8:1!
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
There is a law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus that trumps and sets us free from the law of sin resulting in death. Galatians 3:13 explains “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us.” Jesus became a mediator, a substitute, a redeemer, the Son of God came into the world to bear our sin and become our condemnation – something the law and the sheep and goats and bulls and washings could never do. There is now no condemnation for those who are in this great condemnation-bearer, Jesus Christ. For those who believe in Jesus what a great perspective to begin the new year and great perspective to frame the remainder of LIFE that is in front of us.
Paul tells us in verse 6 “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. Paul goes on to illustrate the permanence of this transformation proclaiming in verses 9 – 17 that if the Spirit lives in you, the power of Him who raised Jesus from the dead to conquer sin dwells in you and that you have been adopted as a child of the almighty God. Verse 16 “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” We live in a world that is governed by the flesh and as such we will be persecuted and will suffer as we live out our life according to the Spirit and Truth that conflict with the evolving cultural definition of relative truths that follow the desires of the flesh.
So what does the mind set on the Spirit look like? “Life and Peace.” Paul explains later in Romans 13:8 “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” We are to recognize the incredible love that God has for us and to realize and become saturated with that love in our life so that we can reflect God’s love back to Him and our neighbor. (family, friends, co-workers, communities and people where we work and live) How do we set our mind on the Spirit? Paul instructs us in Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Even though we live in the midst of a world infected by sin we are to be different and shine as a light of hope to the world because we have set our minds on things of the Spirit.
My new resolution for this year and for my life: Set my mind on the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16 Walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
Colossians 3:2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
I will work to train my mind to remember that I am not of the flesh. I will work to exchange selfish desires and a mind set on uncertainties and troubles for the promise of life and peace. I admit this will be difficult and that I will fail often. I will have to remind myself that the Spirit Himself testifies that I am a child of the Almighty God and be confident of God’s great love for me that when I follow the truth of Jesus I will experience Life and Peace. I will seek daily to choose joy, be bold in my convictions and live fully so that people will see a difference in me and know that it is the Spirit that lives in me. I live in a fallen world and will experience persecution and sufferings, but know that there is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus and nothing will separate me from the love of Christ. (Romans 8:35-39)
This is my challenge to myself, to the men in my Friday morning study and to all those who read this post.
p.s. I also resolve to lose a few pounds.