DEVOTIONS AND SERMONS

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Power Of The Holy Spirit
 

Paul talks about the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. When we got baptised what gift did we receive?

Acts 2:38
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

So when we got baptised we received the gift of the Holy Spirit and also received the forgiveness of our sins.

Ephesians 1:13-14
13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory.


It says we got included in Christ when we heard the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation. When we studied the Bible we heard the truth - the truth is called the gospel of salvation - and we came to know about Jesus and we believed in him. And after we decided to believe that Jesus is God, our Lord, we got baptized and Bible says at that time we were marked in him with a seal- the promised Holy Spirit. There is a seal in each one of our hearts that guarantees the Spirit of God in us.

Nowadays in the market you get a lot of duplicate stuff. People duplicate the products of good companies in a sub-standard way and sell them cheap in the market. To differentiate between the real and the fake products, companies have come up with special seals on the product - even Microsoft has a special seal all multicolored. Its a way to guarantee that this is a original product you are buying. Companies will also advertise urging people to make sure they are not taken in by fakes. So same way God has put a seal of His Holy Spirit on us when we got baptized.

Romans 8:9
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

The Bible very clearly says that if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ in him he does not belong to Christ. It's absolutely a mark of us being Christians that we have the Spirit in us.

What does the Spirit do to us? How does it help us? The whole book of Romans talks a lot about the Spirit. The word 'Spirit' is mentioned 30 times in the Romans and out of that it has been mentioned 20 times in chapter 8.

1. The Spirit confirms you and me as sons

Romans 8:15-17
15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."
16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
17Now 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.


Here Paul is talking to the Romans. The audience he is talking to is very well aware of Roman laws, cultural expectations and what the Romans followed. So he says to them as well as to us who are reading it today that " we did not receive a spirit that makes us a slave to fear but we received the spirit of sonship" - if you look at the footnote another word for sonship is "adoption". By the Spirit we have a chance to call God as our new father, to say "Abba" which means "Father". v16 says that the Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.

In the Roman family it was the father who had the absolute power over the whole family. So he had absolute control, absolute power and he could decide what he wanted to do with his sons, with things or whatever he owned. And this was called patria patestas. What it meant for the father is that he had absolute control over his family, that he could decide whether his son should live or die- he had the power to sentence his son to death if he so wished. In the Roman world a son could never catch up with his father in terms of power and authority even if he was an adult. So no matter how old he was, he would still be under patria patestas.

The father was in absolute control. This made adoption a little more difficult. They had two steps in adoption in the Roman world. First of all they had a symbolic sale of the son. They would use symbolic copper and scales to process this. The father who was giving up his son for adoption would symbolically sell his son two times and symbolically buy him back two times. The third time he would symbolically sell his son but this time he would not buy him back. The second step involves this father going to a magistrate or praetor. Legal papers would be drawn up so that the son could be put up for adoption and the new father buy him. Adoption was taken very seriously by the Romans. Some of the main things which changed at adoption are these.

First of all the adopted son lost all rights in his old family and acquired all legitimate rights in his new adopted family. This meant that the old father was now no longer considered the father whereas the new father legally became the only father to his adopted son. Spiritually speaking that is what happened to us. What did God do through Jesus? He adopted us through Jesus as his sons. He bought us with the precious blood of His own son.

Previously we were controlled by our sinful nature, by the law of this world - we were controlled by this nature. Satan was our father. Just like the roman father had to pay a price for adoption same way God had to pay a price by shedding his son's blood and adopting us as his sons. So like the adopted son has no rights in his old family, so also we have no rights to be under our old father Satan. Our old sinful nature should die as we get baptized.

And when we get baptized we come under the patria patestas of the new father ie God. That means God is in control of our new lives not our old father. Now we are under the control of God the Father. We have become legitimate sons of the new father. Some of us still doubt our sonship in God. We listen to the gospel, we put our faith in Christ, we repented of our sins, we got baptized, we received the Holy Spirit and forgiveness but we still struggle with "Am I God's son?" The Bible says that there is no doubt that when we got baptized we got adopted into God's family as sons or daughters. No doubt about it.

The second thing the adoption in Roman times meant is that the adopted son becomes the new heir to the father's property or estate. Basically, even if the new father has other sons, the adopted son has absolute legal rights and equal rights as the other members of the family. That is why v17. Just as Christ is son of God so also we become co-heirs with him when we become Christians. Another thing in that verse is that if we share in his sufferings we will also share in his glory.

So what this verse is saying is that we should be happy to share in the sufferings of Christ because we know that God exalted Christ to be at his right hand. If God exalted Christ wouldn't he exalt you if you are willing to share in the sufferings of Christ?

Third thing adoption meant is that - and this is incredible- under the law the old life of the adopted son is completely wiped out for all his debts were cancelled. Isn't that amazing? This means that whatever old wrongs you were charged with, under the Roman law after adoption you would start anew, your old life is totally wiped out and you have a completely new life. So the adopted person is considered a new person starting a new life with a new father.

That is what God does for us through Christ Jesus. And through his spirit that is given to us at the time of baptism. So in Christ, through his spirit, we are a new person, living a new life under a new father. That is what the spirit of God confirms in us. The Holy Spirit confirms us as his sons. This was very clearly understood by the congregation to which the letter to the Romans was written. That is why Romans is full of law, spirit, grace and freedom which we sometimes find difficult to understand but to the Romans, it was very clear because it pertained to the land in which they were living. Of course it also talks about the laws of the Jews that we are aware of from the Old Testament.

In v16 it says " the spirit of God (that is the Holy spirit) himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children". There is something in that statement. The Spirit becomes a witness that we are God's children - what does that mean? When adoption was carried out under Roman law it was carried out in the presence of 7 witnesses. Suppose the new father dies and there is a dispute among the family members about the rights of the adopted son, well, the roman law states that only one of those 7 witnesses is enough to confirm or prove the adoption of the son. One witness, that's all.

According to the Bible who is that one witness to prove that we are his sons? The Holy Spirit is the only witness needed to prove we are God's son. Our friends, family, others may say we are not but the Holy Spirit is enough to prove that we are legal heirs of God our Father. The world may reject us but the Spirit is enough to confirm the sonship that we all enjoy under God the Father.

Isn't it encouraging when we study it out? Doesn't it make you more confident to approach God our Father? Because he has done everything he can from his side to accept you as his son or daughter. He has done everything he could do including giving up his son himself for us to be his children.

2. The Spirit controls us

Romans 8:1-7
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man,
4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;
7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.


This is a very powerful passage. It says in v1 there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. In other words no punishment. In Christ, if we belong to Christ and remain in Christ, no condemnation - that's the promise of the scriptures. How did that happen? God sent his son Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice. Through him he condemns sin in sinful man, says the Bible. In Jesus, all the righteous requirements is fulfilled for us to be close to God. And the Bible expects that we no longer live according to our sinful nature but live according to the Spirit.

A sinful person has his mind set on what the sinful nature desires. We have to ask ourselves what we are filled with. If we desire things of the flesh it means we have things of the flesh on our minds and we are not controlled by the Spirit. If we live by the Spirit then we have the things of the Spirit on our minds, we desire things of the Spirit. The mind of sinful man leads to death. The man controlled by the Spirit, his mind is life and peace. The sinful mind is hostile to God and does not submit to God's law. The Bible says those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. So we can't take things for granted. Those who are controlled by the flesh or live by the flesh cannot please God.

Don't be deceived.

2 Timothy 3:1-5
(2 Tim 3:1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. (2 Tim 3:2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, (2 Tim 3:3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, (2 Tim 3:4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- (2 Tim 3:5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

It talks about having a form of godliness but denying its power. We can have a form of godliness outwardly but we deny its power and we do not come under the spirit, we are led by the sinful nature. As disciples since we have come into Christ, and we have his Spirit we have to be led by the Spirit. Amen? And do you know who helps us to kill sin - it is the Spirit that kills the sin in our lives. We don't have to be a slave to the fear that controlled us before. We are God's children and we can be secure that God will help us to fight against sin.

The reason we sin is that we are not secure under God. The reason we sin is that we think God can never be satisfied and so we go ahead and do whatever we want to do since anyway we can never make God happy. The Bible says that God has done everything he can to reach out to us and cleanse us from past sins, past debts. He is not holding you accountable for all the wrongs you have done so far. As far as God is concerned our records are clean, he does not want to remember anything, we don't have to pay anything back - we are his new children and He is our Father.

Romans 8:12-14
12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation--but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.
13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,
14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.


We have an obligation. The obligation is not to our sinful nature but towards Christ and toward his Holy Spirit. And we can put to death all the misdeeds of the sinful nature through the Spirit. Those who are led by the Spirit are truly the sons of God. What is controlling our minds? Not only on Sunday mornings - on Sundays we come with the attitude we want to learn, to listen, to worship. How is our prayer life?

How is our studying of the Bible as the brother was saying in the communion? How is our eagerness to fellowship with our brothers and sisters during the week? How eager are we to get with our brothers and sisters to pray and study and learn and share our burdens and pray for each other? What controls our mind? If you are controlled by the sinful nature the Bible says you do not please God and are hostile to God. At the same time if you feel you are caught up with the world, the Bible promises you freedom in Christ through his Spirit.

Let us think about the power of the Holy Spirit which is available to us. How does the Spirit help us?

Romans 8:26-27
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.


It says the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. Maybe sometimes you feel stuck, you're not able to pray and there are a lot of burdens in our heart. Even at that time, the Bible says, the Spirit will intercede for his saints. The Holy Spirit is given to us to help us in our weaknesses. Let us be led by the Holy Spirit as Paul encouraged in the book of Romans. Also to be led by the spirit as in the first century church in the book of Acts when it led the Christians to go out and help many people and to change the world and to evangelize and to start new churches, to raise new leaders. The Spirit of God worked in the hearts of people.

First of all, the Spirit of God confirms our sonship and secondly the Spirit controls us.