Which Way The Wind Blows
By Bobby Blakey on May 8, 2023
Which Way The Wind Blows
By Bobby Blakey on May 8, 2023
I invite you to open the Bible and turn with me to the book of Romans chapter 8, verses 5 to 8. And I am so excited, I've been looking forward to studying Romans, chapter 8. Anybody else feel the same way here at the church? Anybody excited about this chapter. But last week, as we started getting into the chapter, it is a little different than what I anticipated. I anticipated Romans 8 being a very encouraging passage. But really, it's about a very encouraging person, the Spirit of Life, who has set us free from sin and death. And so, we have now begun a series of studies on the Spirit, the Holy Spirit. And now as we go into these verses, it's not just encouraging about the Spirit, it's also very clarifying about the contrast between the flesh and the Spirit. And so that's what we're going to see here together in Romans 8:5-8. And this might be different; what is presented in these verses might be different than what you think. So, I want to encourage you to give this your full and undivided attention as we read it and study it together. And out of respect for God's word, I invite everybody to stand up for the public reading of Scripture; even if you're watching this in the overflow or online, if you could stand up with us, let's give the Word of God today, our complete focus, because this is what the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write about the difference between the flesh and the Spirit, Please follow along as I read Romans 8:5-8.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
That’s a reading of God's word, please go ahead and have your seat. Now, this passage is indicative. And if you've got one of our bulletins, there's a handout in there. And if you want to pull that handout out there, you can take some notes on what we're going to learn from God's Word. And you might even just want to write two words at the top of your handout as we get going: indicative and imperative. So, indicative is a kind of passage that's telling us who we are. And imperative is then telling us what to do. It's commanding us to take some action. So, this passage is indicative. All right. If you're looking for what we should do about the Holy Spirit, we'll come back next week, we'll get into more of what we do next week. But this is telling us, hey, you're either in the flesh or you're in the Spirit. And you can tell by the way that you think. You can see that there in Romans 8:5, it says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” Well, they set their minds on the things of the Spirit. So, this Greek word here to set your mind is phroneo. It's a word that means “to think or to direct your thoughts upon.” So, you can know whether you're in the flesh, or whether you're in the Spirit, based on the way that you think. So, the way that you think is going to be indicative of whether you're in the flesh, or the Spirit.
Now, this idea, this contrast between now you're either of the flesh or in the Spirit, this contrast is something that we've talked about a lot here at our church. In fact, many times at our church, we have referred to Galatians chapter 5 as a passage where you can see this contrast. And in Galatians 5, it describes the outcome of your thoughts. Alright? Jesus has already compared; we've seen the Spirit is compared to the wind. And you can't see the wind, but you can see the outcome, the effect of the wind. Well, you can't see the Spirit, but you can see what the Spirit will look like in your life because you either have the deeds of the flesh, and it describes things like sexual immorality, anything sexual outside of marriage, or anger, outbursts of rage, drunkenness, or division rivalries, envies. These are examples of deeds of the flesh. But the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control against those things. There's no law against those things because those are spiritual things that the Spirit is producing in you, and you are either doing the deeds of the flesh, or you are bearing the fruit of the Spirit. See, Galatians 5 also indicates whether you're in the flesh or the Spirit.
Now, this passage wants to draw that same distinction, but it wants to get into the way that you think. And look back with me now at Romans 8:5. Notice that there are only two options here. You’re either live according to the flesh, and if you're according to the flesh, you think that way according to the flesh, or you live according to the Spirit. So, there's not some kind of middle ground that you're going to find here. It's either flesh or Spirit. And then look at Romans 8:6. And if your mind is thinking on the flesh, that's death. But if your mind is thinking on the Spirit, that's life, that's peace. And then Romans 8:7-8, they get specifically into the mind that is set on the flesh. So, there's a contrast in what Romans 8 is teaching us.
Let's get this down for point number one, if you're ready to take some notes: “You think one way or the other.” You think one way or the other. You either think according to the flesh, or you think according to the Spirit, that everybody here is in one of those two ways of thinking and living your life. And as we now study, what does that mean to think based on the flesh? And what does that mean to think based on the Spirit? Well, every one of us we're thinking one of those two different ways. So, the Greek word here to set your mind is phroneo. I want to take you to three other passages that draw this same kind of distinction in how you think. So, you've got three dashes there under point number one.
The first one is Matthew 16:16-23. And I want to take you if you want to write that down, and then go ahead and turn over there with me to Matthew 16:16-23. Let's put some meat on the bones here. Let's really study here. What are the two possible ways that you could think? We know one is the flesh. We know one is the Spirit. Well, what does that mean? What does that look like? We've got three other passages where it draws this kind of distinction and how you can think, or your mindset. And one of them is when Jesus is talking with his disciples here in Matthew 16. Jesus takes his twelve disciples away to see Caesarea Philippi, and he starts asking them some questions. “Who do people say that I am?” And then Jesus asked them, “Who do you say that I am?” And Peter answers in Matthew 16:16. Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” I know who you are, Jesus, you are the Holy and Anointed One, the Messiah that has been prophesied. You are the Christ. And look what Jesus says in Matthew 16:17-18, Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Now, we love this passage, because Jesus has promised there to build his church, and that's what we're praying is going to happen right here in Huntington Beach. But notice what he says when Peter gives the right answer. Jesus says, hey, Simon, do you realize you didn't get that thought from the flesh? That didn't come from your natural life, your physical life of flesh and blood? No, God actually gave you that thought; God showed you, he revealed to you that I am the Christ. So, Jesus is saying, hey, this is great, because you didn't get that thought from yourself. God gave you that thought. God is the one who opens our eyes to see who Jesus is. Now, that's a famous story. That's great. What's not so well known, is what happens down in verse 21, because there's another conversation between Jesus and Peter. And in Matthew 16:21, it says, From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. So, hey, now you guys know who I am. You know, I'm the Christ. Well, let me tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to go to Jerusalem, they are going to crucify me. But don't worry, on the third day I will rise from the dead. Jesus is telling them the gospel, the good news that he's going to pay for all of our sins on the cross, and he's going to rise and give us a victory over sin, death, and Satan so that we can have a new, abundant, eternal life. Now, look what Peter says about this, Matthew 16:22-23. “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. Hey, next time you're thinking about taking Jesus aside, and you're going to rebuke him, you might want to rethink that situation, my friends, because And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me…’,” who, everybody? “Satan”. We went from Simon to Satan pretty quickly here. We went from a God-given thought, to look what Jesus says about this thought, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” See your focus right here right now, that doesn't sound like a good idea for the Jewish religious leaders to kill Jesus. That doesn't sound like a good idea to Peter. He's like, that’s not what we should do. We should have a better thing that happens than that. And he's like, no, no, no, God didn't give you that thought, Peter, that thought came from the flesh, that thought came from yourself.
Now this idea of you're either thinking, according to the flesh, or according to the Spirit, what the Bible is going to teach us today, what Romans 8 is saying to us today is different than what a lot of people say at church today. I've been going to Southern California church for most of my life, and you regularly hear people say things like, well, the other day, I was in sin, the other day, I was speaking harshly with my wife, I got angry with my kids. And so, the other day, bro, I was in the flesh. But don't worry, I'm doing much better today. I'm in the Spirit. That is a common kind of thing that I have heard many people at this church say. I've been hearing people talk like that, like one day, I'm in the flesh, and then, don't worry about me now, though, because today I'm walking in the Spirit; like the other day was pretty ugly, but don't worry, I’m good now, bro. Right? That's how we talk. That is the opposite of what the Bible is teaching us. And some people might even use Peter as an example here. See, one minute he's saying the glorious truth about Jesus. And the next thing he's saying something that comes from Satan. That's how I feel. I feel like I go back and forth from the flesh and the Spirit.
Let me just ask you a question. Does Peter have the Holy Spirit here in Matthew 16? He doesn't have the Spirit. He's still a wishy-washy disciple. Did you notice how the disciples are wishy-washy in the Gospels? And then they're just like, the most awesome guys you ever read about in the book of Acts? What's the difference between the back and forth, wishy-washy disciples, and the guys who are like on fire for Jesus in the book of Acts? Oh, it's the Holy Spirit that makes the difference! See, Peter wasn't saying things from Satan in the book of Acts; Peter was all in on the gospel of Jesus. In the book of Acts, Peter actually stood up in front of thousands of people on the streets of Jerusalem, where they killed Jesus not too long after that, and he looked at thousands of his fellow Jews, and Peter got his pointy finger out. And he said, you killed Jesus, but God raised him up from the third day, and we are all witnesses, and thousands of people got saved, because the Spirit used Peter to preach this gospel. I mean, even do you remember in Acts, chapter 4, they got arrested for preaching the gospel, Peter and John got brought before the same group of religious leaders that had Jesus crucified, here, come Peter, and John in Acts 4 on trial before these same guys. And it says that Peter, filled with the Spirit looks right at them and says, oh, you guys want to know how we help to lay man walk. I'll tell you how we did it. We did it in the name of Jesus. The one way. The only name given among men under heaven by which anybody can be saved. Nobody's getting saved by your name, but by his name. In fact, you guys were supposed to be the builders, but you rejected him. And now he has become the cornerstone. We did this in the name of Jesus. Peter says he's not wishy-washy anymore. He is filled with the Spirit. And if you think that the Bible says we go back and forth from the flesh to the Spirit, I got an open challenge out now for two services. Come and show me the verses that say that, because Romans 8 is not saying you go back and forth between the flesh and the Spirit. It's saying, no, let me indicate to you whether you are of the flesh or you are of the Spirit, because you are only one or the other. And so, we’ve got to see this very clearly that Peter, he goes back and forth, that's before he's got the Spirit
Go with me to Philippians chapter 3, Philippians 3:14-21. This is our second passage that describes the way to think, the mindset, the contrast of two different ways to think. And here in Philippians 3, it's talking about the mindset of faith, where you press on towards Christ Jesus. You know that Jesus died and rose again, you know that he's in heaven, and you look to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith, and you press on towards him. Look what it says in Philippians 3:14. And we'll go down to verse 21. But start with me here in verse 14, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” So, I want to think the thoughts of God, not of man, the thoughts that have to do with who Jesus is, and what Jesus did for us. And because I believe in Jesus, I think now the whole direction of my life is towards Jesus. And someday, after I press on, I’ll experience this upward call where I will be with Jesus forever. That's the way I'm thinking now. And he says, I press on. Let’s look at Philippians 3:15. “Let those of us who are mature, think this way.” So, everybody who's thinking in the right way, the way of God, the way of the Spirit, you need to think about the upward call that you have in Christ. That's the mature way to think. In fact, look at what he says there in verse 15. And if in anything you think otherwise, if you have a different mindset, God will reveal that also to you. Like, if you're not thinking this way, you need to get on board with thinking this way. And in fact, the mature people, this is how they think. Philippians 3:17, “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” Do you know anybody who's pressing on towards the upward call of God in Christ Jesus? That person is then an example to you, that's a mature person. You want to learn to think the way that they are thinking, and then he's going to give the contrast in Philippians 3:18, “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.” So, I want to encourage you to press on and think about the call of God in Christ Jesus. But there are a lot of people that don't think this way. And we even know some of them. They used to be here with us. But now they're not thinking this way. And any sadness with tears as he recalls the people who didn't have this mindset, and look at how he describes it, Philippians 3:19, Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” And then right back to the contrast, but our citizenship is in heaven. And from it, we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. So yeah, these other people, though, you, you don't want to think like them, because their mind is set on earthly things. You want to get your mind on the things you have in Christ, the things of heaven don't live an earthly thing.
Maybe you've heard this phrase that people can be so heavenly-minded, they're no earthly good. Have you ever heard that one before? I've heard that. I haven't really seen much of that. Honestly. What this is saying is that people are so earthly minded, they're no heavenly good. That's what this is saying. People whose mind is set the way that they think is about the things of this earth, the things of this life, the things right here, right now. If you're only thinking about the things you can see with your physical eyeballs, it says your mind is set on earthly things, and your end is not the glory of Jesus Christ, your end is destruction. You either have an earthly mindset, or you have a mind that's on Christ, and Christ is in heaven. And so, you're looking towards the upward call. Like are you living for Jesus or are you living for right here, for right now? Because Jesus made it very clear that if you want to gain him, then what do you have to do with your life right now, you have to what, everybody? You’ve got to lose your life to find it in Christ. You cannot think that it's all about this life and have life in Jesus. It says if your mind is set on earthly things, if your God is your belly, if you're living to satisfy your own appetites, if you're living to do whatever pleases you, whatever you see that you want, whatever feels good to you, if your glory is in your shame, like you're doing things that God says are wrong, but you do them and you don't feel bad about them. You're not turning from, you're not repenting. You're not confessing them. No, you're doing them and you're finding your identity in them. You're taking pride in them. You're like, yeah, look what I do, you're not turning from it, you're celebrating it. If your glory is in your shame, no, no, your end is destruction, your mind is focused on the things on earth, on the flesh. So, there's a clear contrast here, you're either thinking one of these two ways, you're either looking forward to heaven and being with Jesus forever, or you're headed towards destruction, because you're still set in your mind on earthly things. It is either one way or the other. All of us think one of these two ways. There's no in-between. There's no going back and forth. Everybody hearing this sermon right now, you are either a mindset on earthly things, or you're pressing on towards the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, you are one or the other.
Go to just a couple of pages to the right, Colossians 3:1-4. This is our third passage that describes this contrast in different ways of thinking according to the flesh, or the Spirit. And this is written to those who have come to believe when Jesus died for us on that cross, and he rose from the dead on the third day, that gospel message, we see that from God, we believe in it. And look what it says in Colossians 3:1-4, “if then you've been raised with Christ,” or since you've been raised with Christ, since you have believed in Jesus, and you're now dead to sin, and you now have a new life. Well, since you've been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, you're no longer who you used to be. You don't live for this life anymore; you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. You either think that you have a life in Jesus, or you think that you have a life right here right now. And an earthly life of fleshly life, you're thinking about one of those two different lives. And your mind either goes to the things you have in Christ, the future you have in Christ, all the blessings and all the grace that is available to you right now in Christ, and you're setting your mind on Jesus, because he is your life, or you're still trying to live your life right here right now. And you have your mind set on the things of the flesh on earthly things.
Everybody here, you think one of these two ways. And the point of this part of Romans 8 is to make it clear, which way do you think? Now when we study for the sermons, we take it very seriously, where we get into the original language, we're reading commentaries, we want to make sure we are accurately explaining the text of Scripture. And as we've been going through Romans, one of the things I love to do after you study the text a lot is I love to read what some other pastors, other preachers have preached. And one of my favorite preachers to read is this guy, Martyn Lloyd-Jones. He's got a whole series of books, going through the book of Romans. I love reading his sermons that go through Romans, and he used an analogy about this part of Romans 8 that we're in, about these two ways of thinking. And he took it back to what Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7, where Jesus said that it's like everybody's a tree, and you either produce good fruit because you're a good tree, or you produce bad fruit because you're a bad tree. And we don't know what kind of thoughts you think in your head. Nobody here can judge your thoughts. We might be able to see what kind of fruit you produce. But Jesus is saying something that will happen is people who are really wolves, and they really are a bad tree. They'll dress up like sheep. People will decorate the outside of their tree to make it look really nice. And this is what Martyn Lloyd-Jones said. He said, a lot of people who go to church if you were to just look on their tree, their tree looks decorated, their tree looks like it lights up at night. You want to know why? Because they're a Christmas tree is what he said. They're a tree. Oh, it's looking better than most trees. Look, it's got lights, it's got decorations, but it's a dead tree. And he said, a lot of Christians they know what the right thing to say is and they know what the right thing to do is, but what do they really think inside themselves? Because I mean, honestly, a lot of us, we don't even put up dead trees at Christmas, we put up completely fake trees. They're in a box in the garage right now. You know what I mean? And so, he was saying that this part of Romans 8, it is going to reveal that some people, they are a fake tree. And the reason that there is fruit looking like their tree is good is their decorating their dressing up a dead tree, this isn't really the way that they think this isn't really their mindset. They just put the good things on the outside. So, people will think what a nice tree they've got. But, no, this is getting into what actually do you think inside of you, not the way your life looks on the outside to other people, but your own mindset? Are you thinking, are you directing your thoughts towards the life you have in Jesus? Or are your thoughts directed towards the life you have in the flesh on this earth? Right now, you can only have one of those two lives? Which one do you set your mind on? Are you a Christmas tree? Or does your tree have life? And is it evergreen? Is it like the tree we just read about in Psalm chapter one, a tree that is by streams of water that is bearing fruit? And whatever you do you prosper. And the reason you're doing these things is because that's the whole way that you think because your life is in Jesus Christ. That's why there's fruit in your life. Not because you're faking it, but because that's who you have become, because you think according to the Spirit. Which one are you?
And I just kind of say this one more time because I, as far as I'm concerned, we're still a young church, I'm still hoping the best days for this church are ahead of us. I'm so excited about what God's doing to build this auditorium, how God's building up a team that's going to get planted in Long Beach, I think we're still getting started. But we've been here in Huntington Beach long enough now that I know many people and perhaps even some of us here in this room. We talk like we go back and forth between the flesh and the Spirit all the time. That is not what we are being taught here today. So, when next time somebody says bro, I was so in the flesh the other day, and I just wasn't right. But don't worry about me now, bro. I'm in the Spirit today. I mean, are we going to then say to that brother or sister in Christ, oh, did you get saved between now and the other day? Because that's what we're talking like. And if you're having a hard time hearing that, go back to Romans chapter 8 with me and look at what it says here in Romans 8:6, because it makes it very clear. Verse 5 already said, you're one way or the other. You're thinking one of these two ways. Now look at Romans 8:6. If you have the mindset on the flesh, it says to set the mind on the flesh to think according to earthly thoughts, not the thoughts of God, the thoughts of man right here, right now, to think that way to set the mind on the flesh is…” what does it say there, everybody? Death, “but the mind that is set on the Spirit is life and peace.” So, this is why the way we talk today in church in Southern California, it's like, what are you saying? Are you saying that you were dead the other day, but now you're back to life again today? But you don't know. Maybe tomorrow you'll be dead, you'll be alive, you don't know, maybe you'll be in the flesh or the Spirit. It's almost like we think Christianity is like some kind of light switch. And some days the light will be turned on and, sometimes, the light switch gets turned off. And I just kind of go back and forth. I ebb and flow. I don't know which way the wind is going to blow tomorrow. See? No, it's saying no. If you are in the flesh, then you are Spiritually dead. And if you are in the Spirit, he has made you alive in Jesus Christ, and you are either one or the other. You're not going back and forth. And I can imagine as the Spirit is giving us through the inspiration that Paul is teaching us here in Romans, I mean, I would imagine that the Holy Spirit is being tired of being a part of these conversations where it's like, well, one day I have the Spirit and one day I don't know. You either have the Spirit or you don't have it. Period. Can I get an Amen from anybody on that? We’ve got to change the way we talk to line up with what the Spirit is teaching us here in Romans chapter 8, because if you are in the flesh, you are still dead; your soul has not yet been made alive. You are living only by these eyes by what you can see and feel and experience right here right now. But if you are in the Spirit, he has opened the eyes of your soul, and you can now see outside of space and time; you can now see into the spiritual realm where there are angels and demons, where there is God and Satan, where there is good and evil.
And you can now see that not everything is as it seems here on planet Earth. And there's a whole another thing that's really going on, and the way I feel right now in my body is not as true as what Jesus did for me when he died and rose again. And I think that life is not found right here. And now I think that life is found in Jesus Christ, and the Spirit opened my eyes to see it. And I've now set my mind on the things of the Spirit. And I'm not living for the flesh anymore. I have life and peace because I believe in Jesus Christ.
Everybody here, you are one or the other. Nobody here went back and forth this week, there is no going back and forth. There is only one way to go. You go from being dead in the flesh, and you become alive in the Spirit. And once the Spirit comes and lives in you, you never go back to death again, you will live forevermore, because God has made you alive in his Son, Jesus Christ. And so, everybody here is living based on one set of eyeballs. What you can see with your physical eyes are what the Spirit has opened your eyes to see spiritually. And if you are only thinking according to the flesh, you have death. But if you have the Spirit, you have life and peace. And what do we mean by peace?
Go with me back to Romans 5:1, because when he says that word, peace, he's already defined that for us here in the book of Romans. I want everybody here to have the life of the Spirit. I want everybody here to know this peace. Well, what is this peace? It says in Romans chapter 5, verse 1, therefore, maybe you can remember back to Romans five, this was a critical turning point. Because after it explained to us that we have sin, and Jesus is righteous, and Jesus died for our sin, and everybody who believes in Jesus, everybody who has faith, you are justified; God declares you righteous when you believe in Jesus. Well, it says here, then in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” So, peace is not just a feeling of tranquility, or not just a sense that you might have of calm peace, it’s when you know you are right with God in Christ.
Let's get that down for point number two: “Those who think according to the Spirit, have life and peace.” What does that mean? You are right with God in Christ. I know that because of Jesus, I now am in a right standing before God, I have a relationship now with God. God has declared me righteous, not based on anything I've done, but based on my faith in Jesus that he's the one who was righteous. See, now I am right with God. That's the definition of peace. Peace means you're no longer against God. But you are now right with God. This is what the angels came to announce on Christmas, when the multitude of the heavenly host was speaking to those shepherds out there in the field. And they said, Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace with those whom he is what pleased you. It wasn't just like the angels aren't shouting out world peace. The angels aren't saying you're going to have peace with every other human being on planet Earth. The angels are all saying that now because Jesus the Savior has been born, mankind will be able to have peace with God, God will be pleased with people and at peace with them, because of Jesus.
So, the Spirit teaches you to put your faith in Jesus. And as you trust in Jesus, you have life and peace; you are no longer in a state of death because you are now right with God in Christ. That's what we're learning. And this peace that we have is so powerful, this life that we have in the Spirit! You could write down under point number two, Philippians 4:6-7, because it says, no matter what bad thing may happen to you in life, no matter what may cause you to be anxious, or what you could be worried about, there are so many trials, so many tribulations, bad things can happen to our health, bad things can happen to our loved ones, bad things can happen to our money. There are so many reasons you might be anxious or worried. But if you have the mindset of the Spirit, if you have the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, you don't have to be anxious about all these bad things that can happen. But you can pray you can direct your thoughts to God. And when you pray, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus, like a fortress. You see what an amazing promise it's saying here. Oh, God, oh, no, this bad thing is happening to me. What am I going to do? There are bad things happening to this person. I love what's going to happen to them. I'm feeling anxious. I'm feeling like I want to be worried. But wait, I know that I am right with God in Christ Jesus, and the peace that I have in being right with God trumps all of these other worries. And so, I'm going to turn my thoughts to God, and I can find peace, even in the worst of circumstances. Can I get an Amen from anybody on that?
Because my life is no longer determined by what happens to me on this planet. My life is now determined based on what Jesus already did for me. And I have a spiritual life. Now, if the worst-case scenario happened to me this afternoon, and my body stopped working, and I had no more life in my flesh, I would be more alive than I ever have been. Because I would be with Jesus Christ. And that peace, it guards my heart and mind, like a castle, like a fortress. Like, it doesn't matter what happens to me now. I mean, I'm rooting for the best. I don't want all the worst of trials. But even if the worst were to come, nothing, nothing that happens to me in this life, not even death, nothing that even happens to me in the spiritual realm, not even Satan, or any of the demons, nothing is able to separate me from the love of God that I have in Christ Jesus, my Lord. Jesus now has defined my life so completely, the peace I have in Jesus, it can calm any other fear, it can cease any other worry, it can take all my anxieties, and I don't feel anxious anymore. I have peace because I am right with God in Jesus. See, that's how you are having a mindset on the Spirit. That's how you're thinking about the things of God. That's how your mind is no longer set on earthly things, but your mind is now set on the life you have in Christ Jesus. This is the whole point of Romans, chapter 8: You cannot be separated from what you have in Christ Jesus, our Lord. That's what the Spirit is here to teach us. That's the way I'm supposed to be thinking, what I have in Jesus, that is the thing that sets the tone for everything else now that I experience, and that is life. And that is peace. That's how to think according to the Spirit. Now, if that encourages you, and you want to learn more how to think those thoughts of the Spirit, that's what we're going to get to next week.
Next week, we'll get to the imperative, and it will tell us what to do, based on this life that we have in Jesus, based on the Spirit being in us. But if you go back now to chapter 8 of Romans, and you look at verses 7 and 8, Paul decides here not to continue to go on and encourage the person who has the Spirit. But now in Romans 8:7-8, Paul wants to directly address the mind that is set on the flesh, the person who's still living for the here and now, the things of this earth. And look what he says here in verse 7, “for the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God for it does not submit to God's law.” Okay, so when you think, according to your own flesh, to satisfy your own appetites, to do what makes sense, right here, right now, you are acting against God. That way of thinking is opposed to God, it's at enmity with God, it's hostile to him. There are two opposing ways of thinking being presented to us. So, you're not going back and forth, like a wave tossed around, or the wind will blow this way. And then it'll blow this way. No, if the power of the Spirit is working in your life, he's going to take you into thoughts towards God. But if you're still thinking according to the flesh, you're actually against God, and you haven't put yourself underneath God's authority. You haven't submitted to what God says. You're still out here trying to figure it out for yourself. And then the way Paul says, this is so strong, it is so intense, there's no way that I can sugarcoat this or dumb this down here. He says, not only are you against God, not only do you not submit to God's law, it says the mind that is set on the flesh, indeed, it cannot. And then as if that wasn't enough, he says, Romans 8:8, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” So he says it once and when he says it once, it's like, boom, and then he decides to double down on it. If you are in the flesh, this is what he's saying.
The Greek word here is dunamai, it speaks of power, or ability. If you are in the flesh, you are not able to please God. That's what he just said. Let's get that down for number three: “You are either right with God in Christ, or, what does he says here? Romans 8:7-8, you are not able to please God. God is not pleased with you if you're still trying to do it yourself, if you're still living for the things of this life. Don't be deceived into thinking that some days you're in the flesh, and some days you're in the Spirit. No, God is not pleased if your mind is set on the flesh. Now, this is something that comes up a lot. There are people regularly who will come to our church and they will say, you know, I'm living in this sin, I'm walking in this darkness, and they will describe to you a sin that is not like a sin they fell into once or twice, but it is a sin that defines their life. It is a sin that they are practicing, this is the way they're living. And they'll be like, hey, I know I'm doing this sin. But don't you worry about me. I'm a Christian, I've got the Spirit. I'm okay. Let me just ask a question, shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? “By no means!” That's not how this works. You can't keep continuing in sin and claim the Christ at the same time, you can't be in the flesh and be in the Spirit. If you are still in the flesh, you're not able to please God. It's very clear. Now what he does here with the two, you cannot, the two, you are not abels. Like, clearly Paul didn't live in America, you don't tell people what they can't do these days? Well, you don't tell people what they're not able to do. This is not going to go down well, in Southern California church, right here. What Paul does here is he doubles down.
And literally, when we train leaders here at our church, maybe it's because I'm weak sauce, maybe it's because I'm not really saying what I should be saying. But I'll say, hey, when you have that conversation, and that person is telling you about this sin that they are in, and then they also at the same time, while they're not repenting of this sin, they're also claiming that they're saved in Jesus at the same time, I would take them to a passage like Galatians 5, or many other passages, and I would try to clarify for them, you can't have it both ways; you are either one way or the other. You can't be living both in the flesh and in the Spirit. That's not how it works. I would say that to them one time and try to say it as clearly as you can try to say it in love. But I would actually say to leaders, don't double down on it. Apparently, Paul didn't listen to me right here. Because he says it once. And then as if it may be you won't understand that you're an enemy, that you haven't submitted and you're not able to submit. He just says it again. If you are still in the flesh, you are not able to please God. Do not be deceived, and think that God is pleased with you if you are still living according to the flesh. That's the point that he wants to make.
And now that might sound like a harsh point and intense point, and incredibly offensive point. That point right there is actually the most freeing point, if you could agree with that. If you could see that you're not thinking according to the Spirit, but you are still thinking according to the flesh, this life is still more important to you than Jesus and the life that you have in him. If you could see that about yourself today, and you could admit that about yourself that God is not pleased, then you would be in a place where God actually could be pleased with you. And you could turn from living that way and stop fooling yourself into thinking you're going back and forth. And you could actually think about life in Jesus by the Spirit from today forevermore.
See, so the first step to being saved is admitting you're not saved. And that's what he's trying to teach us here in Romans, chapter 8. Don't think you've already got the Spirit. If you're in the flesh, if you're in the flesh, you are not right with God in Christ. Look at how he says it in 1 Corinthians chapter 2. Let me take you to the very next letter that Paul writes, just to show you that this is how Paul taught, Paul taught people things that they were not able to do. Because if they could see that they're not able to do it, if they could agree with that, then they can humble themselves and turn to God, and God could save them out of the place that they were in. And so here in 1 Corinthians 2, he's getting back into how to think. What we're learning is that walking in the Spirit really has to do with how we think with our mindset. And here he's talking about how you think. Look with me, start with me in 1 Corinthians 2:11, “For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him?” Nobody knows your thoughts but you. We only know what you choose to share with us when you open your mouth and tell us what you're thinking, but you're the only person who really knows your thoughts. So also, no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God.” He's talking to us here that we might understand the three things freely given us by God. Those of us who have believed in Jesus, we've got the Spirit, we're seeing all that God has for us, and we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom, but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
There is right there in the next letter, radically offending people all over again, right? Hey, some people, this is literally going to happen right here at this service, some of you are going to walk out of here thinking, wow, I am so stirred up, I want to go think according to the Spirit, I want to set my mind on the things of Christ, wow, I've got a lot to go and think about. And other people are going to walk out of here thinking things like I'm offended by that, I don't even know what that guy was talking about. And nothing is going to change in their life. And he's saying, that's the difference between having a mindset on the Spirit or on the flesh. People who are still natural, who are still living according to this life, only, they are not able to understand the spiritual things, because they don't have the Spirit. That's what he's saying. And so, you could be confused, you could be offended. Or you could agree with what Paul is teaching us. That until the Spirit opens your eyes to see the Spiritual reality in Jesus, you don't really see all that is going on. And so are you. Is there anyone here today that is willing to say along with Paul, yeah, I think I still am in my flesh, and I don't think I really am able to see all that I could have in Christ? I don't think I'm getting it. I need somebody to help me understand this. I need to start thinking a new way. And stop thinking the way that you've been thinking.
See, if you could admit that here today, this could be the greatest day you've ever had in your life, this could be the first day that you actually go from death to life. And once you go from death to life, there is no going back. And so that's why this is so important because of that idea that you are going back and forth. Like if you have the Spirit and you fall into sin, that's you missing the mark, that's not you going all the way back to the flesh in the way you used to be. We need to clarify how we're talking about this. Because this idea that some soul is meandering back and forth between the flesh and the Spirit no. If you're still in the flesh, you're not able to please God. And if you could admit that today, if you could see that you are not capable of getting your own relationship with God, then the Spirit could open your eyes to show you how much you need Jesus, you could trust in Jesus today. And God could be pleased with you right now by putting your faith in Jesus. Okay, so this is a really important moment right now because we've got some people who think that they're somewhere in the middle. And we've just studied now that there is no middle. And every single one of us here, either has a mindset on the Spirit, or a mindset on the flesh. And if you have a mindset on the flesh, right here, right now, there is nothing you could walk out of here and do that God would be pleased with. You could go try as hard as you want. You might even try in a sincere way that you want to go and do what is right, you will not be able in and of yourself to do what is right, you will turn back into sin, you will always fall short of God's law, you're not able to commit, to submit to God's law, you cannot is what it's saying. And so, you don't need to go and try to do anything. What you need to do today is admit defeat and surrender and say, I'm never going to please God, but the Spirit is opening my eyes to see that Jesus did please God, and I'm going to stop trying to do it myself. I'm going to trust in Jesus today. And when you do that, you'll be thinking according to the Spirit.
Okay, go with me to John 15. Let me make it very clear to everybody here that before the Holy Spirit is in you, he does work on you. Okay, I want to teach everybody right now two things that the Spirit does. He works on you before he works in you. And here in John and John 14:15-16 Jesus gives us his teaching about the Holy Spirit. In Romans 8 we're getting Paul's teaching on the Spirit. Well, Jesus introduces the Spirit to us in John 14:15-16. We looked at a little bit of it last week. Go with me to John 15:26 Here's something that Jesus says. He says, When the Helper comes… the Helper was another name for the Spirit, the Encourager. When the Helper comes, who I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth, because he's the teacher, he's the one who will open your eyes to see the Spiritual things, who brought the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father, he, the Spirit will bear witness about me, Jesus.
So, the Spirit does two things: he works on you before he works in you. The first thing the Spirit does is the Spirit shows you Jesus, the Spirit is the one who opens your eyes so that you can see Jesus and that the righteous one the Christ, the Holy and Anointed One of God, and he's up there bleeding out on that tree, he's got a crown of thorns pounded into his skull, he's barely able to breathe. Why is Jesus suffering and dying on that cross? He's not just doing some nice thing for people; Jesus is literally up there dying to pay for the things that you have done. He's taking the punishment that you deserve; he is literally dying in your place. And the Spirit will open your eyes so that you could see, I'm not able to please God, I really need Jesus to die in my place. I need his righteousness to be given to me. Jesus is the only one who ever put on flesh who ever pleased God and the Father, he let us know multiple times. And this is my son with whom I am well what? Pleased. So, if you're offended by the Scripture telling you that you're not able to please God, none of us were ever able to please God, nobody here has ever pleased God, we have transferred our trust from trying to do it ourselves. And we have trusted that Jesus pleased God. And when we believe that about Jesus, God was pleased with us, because of Jesus. And we saw that the Spirit opened my eyes so that I could see even a sinner like me could be right with God because Jesus died in my place. He took God's wrath for me, so I could be right with God because of him. See, the Spirit can open your eyes to see that today.
Second thing, look at John 16:8. Here's the second work that the Spirit does on you, even before the Spirit is in you. The only way that any of us gets saved, is the Spirit starts working on us first from the outside before he ever comes inside, when we get saved. And look what it says here, that the Holy Spirit (this is John 16:8), when he comes, he will convict the… who does it say there, everybody? The “world”! Does it say that the Spirit will convict the Christians about sin and righteousness and judgment? No, it does not say that. So not only does the Holy Spirit show you Jesus before you're saved, the Holy Spirit shows you your sin before you're saved. See, sometimes I think people think well, when I sin, I feel bad about it, therefore I must be a Christian because the Holy Spirit convicts me. The Holy Spirit convicts everybody about sin and righteousness and judgment. Anybody who doesn't believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit convicts them that their sin is they're going to be held accountable for their sin, because they have not yet trusted in Christ. The Holy Spirit convicts them that they are not righteous, and they will experience judgment. The Holy Spirit convicts everyone in the world, everybody out there, not just the Christians.
And so, these are the two things that you need to see, so that you can start seeing the spiritual things that you can start having the mind of the Spirit. You need to see that Jesus, he is the righteous one that God is pleased with, and then you need to see yourself that God is not pleased with you, in your own efforts. In your own marriage, you might have tried as hard as you possibly can to be a good person, it does not measure up to the standard of the glory of God. And it never will. See when you can see yourself as a sinner, fallen short of God's glory, and you can see Jesus as a savior, ready to give you his righteousness, ready to bring you into a relationship where God is pleased with you. When you're a sinner, and Jesus is the savior, now the Spirit can save your soul and come inside of you. And you can go from death to life; you can go from against God to with God; you can go from God is not pleased with you, to God is pleased with you today. But so, you have to see this about yourself. And I want to know when was the day that you came to see, I will not be able to please God. I'm still in my flesh because the day that you see clearly you're not saved, that's the day you're now ready to be saved. And so, if the Spirit is Working on you right now, and the Spirit has convinced you that you do think according to the flesh, and you are a sinner, and Jesus, he is the Savior. If you're able to fully see that right now, the Spirit right now is teaching you something. And today is the day that you could just admit defeat, you could surrender, and that would be your salvation in Jesus Christ. If you could say, I'm ready to leave it all, I'm ready to leave my own dreams, wants and desires, all that this earth has to offer, all that Satan is pushing, all the things of the flesh, all the things of this life, I surrender them all, you can take this world, but I want Jesus to save me. See, today could be the day for you.
And so, I'm going to call the Compass Connect team to come forward. And these are people who've already been praying for this message. And they are now ready to talk to anybody here. And you think one way or the other, you either know you're right with God and Christ, or you are not able to please God. And if you can see that you are not able to please God, these people are all ready to have a conversation with you. They're not here to judge you. They're here to help you see Jesus Christ and be saved today. So, the worship team is going to come up, and we're going to sing a song now to end our service. I surrender all to Jesus.
We're going to admit defeat here today. And in fact, we're all going to remember back to when we were in the flesh, because not any one of us was ever able to please God in the flesh. Can I get an Amen from the congregation on that? The only way any of us find God being pleased with us is because the Spirit showed us our sin, and he showed us Jesus, and God is pleased with Jesus. That's how he got pleased with us. Because we trusted in Jesus, we surrendered all to Jesus, all to him we freely give. And so, we're going to remember what Jesus has done to bring us out of the flesh once and for all. So that we can have a mindset on the Spirit. But if you need to talk to somebody, please don't go out of here confused, please don't go out of here offended, please don't go out of here and just keep trying hard to please God by doing good things. When God just made it clear to us, we are not able to please him, but Jesus has already pleased. And so today could be your day. And so, the Compass Connect team, they're going to go out to the back after the service, they'll be out there to the right, you can just walk out with them and start talking to them. If you know that you're in the flesh, today could be the day that you get made alive in the Spirit, by faith in Jesus Christ. Let me pray for us right now.
Father in heaven, we just have to confess to you, as we come together as a church today, we need to confess that there is so much confusion about the flesh and the Spirit, even people at church the way we talk. Like, we're some kind of yoyo, like, we're some kind of game of ping pong. Like we're some kind of ebb and flow one day in the flesh, one day in the Spirit. I pray that you will use your words in Romans 8, 5 to 8, to teach us at this church once and for all, that you're either in the flesh, or you're either in the Spirit, there's no going back and forth. The only way, the only one way that anybody's going is they're getting saved out of the flesh and brought into the Spirit. And it's all because of Jesus Christ. I pray that that would be clear in our thoughts, and it would change the way that we talk at this church. And I pray for anybody here right now, Father, who knows that they are in the flesh, that this just won't be a song that we sing, but this would be what happens here today that they would admit, I am defeated in my flesh, I do keep giving into the same old sins. And that they would surrender all of those things up to Jesus Christ, that your Spirit would right now show them their sin and show them their need of the Savior. I pray that today, eyes would be opened into the spiritual realm, that today, people would be able to see beyond space and time, and they would see somebody that we've never even met yet never even seen him face to face. But we know him; his name is Jesus. And there he is dying on that cross to pay for us. I pray that you would open eyes to see Jesus for the first time today, that they would walk out of here and talk with somebody and be saved. And I pray for those of us where you did open our eyes. And you did show us Jesus. I pray that we would be so thankful that we have life in the Spirit, that we have peace with you Father, I pray that right now we would worship you. And we would sing afresh, we'd be reminded here today that I have surrendered everything to Jesus. I'm no longer living for my flesh. I'm no longer living for the earthly life. I'm living for the upward call of that you have for me in your son Jesus. And I'm going to heaven someday and I've got a peace that surpasses understanding. I pray that we would surrender all to Jesus Christ here today. We pray this in his name. Amen.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.