Greg Laurie - How To Live A Spirit Led Life
I read about a young woman who was living a very successful and happy life. She was a dietitian living in New York city also kind of a foodie. She posted on her Instagram account all these incredible photos of eating food in exotic locations. Then tragically she committed suicide and she wrote a suicide note to her mother and said that despite all of these great things, despite having a great life, she said "I feel absoultely nothing". Then she wrote "I have accepted hope is nothing more than delayed disappointment and I'm just plain old-fashioned tired of feeling tired". How sad that is. She thinks hope is delayed disappointment. This hopelessness she mentioned has become something of a national epidemic.
Columnist Carol Markowitz wrote, "The economy is booming. Crime has fallen dramatically all over the country. We are richer and safer than ever, but we're in the middle of this terrible malaise". I think the problem is if you put your hope in this world that is hope misplaced. It's not going to help you. It's not going to solve your problems. The oldest book of the Bible, the Book of Job, puts it this way in Job 8:13, "The hopes of the godless evaporate. Their confidence hangs by a thread. They are leaning on a spider’s web".
Have you ever leaned on a spider's web? It's not going to support you very well. That's what it's like to lean on this world. I wish I could've spoken with this young lady and told her there's hope. She was looking in the wrong places. And Romans 8 is filled with promises about our past, present, and future. For instance, Romans 8 tells us that there is no condemnation for our past. Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus". Listen to me, if you're a Christian - how many of you are Christians? Raise your hands. Okay. - You're a child of God, right. If you're a child of God and you've asked God to forgive you of your sin, your sin is forgiven and there's no condemnation for you. You must understand how important that is. And then Romans 8:28 assures us that whatever you're going through will ultimately work together for good. All things work together for good to those who love God and are the called according to his purpose.
Romans 8 is sort of like a one-stop shopping destination for hope. It's not a supermarket. It's like one of those smaller markets that's really well stocked. You're going to find a lot of what you're looking for in this great chapter that we're exploring together. This chapter is all about how to live a spirit-led life. So let's read a few verses together. Romans 8 starting in verse 1, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit".
I'll stop there. If you're taking notes, here's point number one: A Spirit-led believer lives a condemnation-free life. Romans 8:1 starts with no condemnation: it ends with no separation. However, Paul does not say there'll be no failures or inconsistencies because we're all going to mess up. We're still going to sin, but he tells us there's no sort of condemnation. Why? Because Jesus took that condemnation, that judgement that we should've faced on himself when he died on the cross of Calvary.
And I think the classic example of how this works is that woman caught in the act of adultery. Remember her? Now we don't know where the guy was. There was a guy involved obviously, but he was gone. This was really some kind of a trap set up by the religious leaders. So they grabbed this woman. They drag her and they throw her on the ground in front of Jesus. They say to him, "The law says she should be stoned. What do you say"? This ticked Jesus off. He knew exactly what they were doing and he called them out on it. He said okay. And he stooped down and he wrote in the sand.
Now, we don't know what he wrote, but whatever it was it was profound because we read they all left from the oldest to the youngest. He said, "Let him that is without sin cast the first stone," so they're gone and he's alone with this woman and he looks at her and he says "Where are your accusers"? She replies, "I have none, Lord". He says, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more". You're saying, "Wait. This woman was caught in the act of adultery and he says, 'I don't condemn you.' Had she even turned from her sin"? Yes she did. You say, "But when"? When she said "Lord". This woman knew she was going to die that day, but instead, everything changed and she looked into the eyes of Jesus and she looked at those others who had condemned her and she believed right on the spot. "Where are your accusers"? "I have none, Lord". That's when she believed.
Do you know how long it takes to believe in Jesus? Pretty much like this. It can just happen. All of a sudden the light goes on and you say this is it. This is true. It's Christ I need. You don't understand everything about him. You don't understand all the intricacies of the theology of conversion and justification and sanctification and adoption etc., but you just know you need Jesus and you put your faith in him and he says, "Go and sin no more". Again, Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus". If you are in Christ Jesus. That is the key. The Bible says, "If any man be in Christ. He is a new creation. All things are passed away. Everything becomes new".
Listen, God sees you for who you are in Christ, not what you were in sin. Let me say that again. When you become a christian, God sees you for who you are in Christ, not who you were in sin. God does not see you in your sin. He sees you in his Son. S-O-N. He doesn't see you in your sin. He sees you in his Son. Yeah you have messed up. I have messed up. He doesn't see us that way. He says, "That is my child now. That is the one that has been forgiven by me. This is the one I am not condemning any longer".
You know, God always sees us for what we can become. I think of Simon Peter. Jesus walked up to Simon and his name wasn't Peter - that came later. Christ gave him that name. He walked up to Simon. He said, "You are Peter" which means rock. If there was anything Simon was not, it was a rock. Simon was hotheaded, vacillating, argumentative and Jesus says, "From now on you're a rock. You're rocky, buddy" and Peter went. Yeah so. I think the other disciples might've been laughing. "Rock? Does Jesus actually know Simon"? Oh yeah he knows him. But wasn't calling him what he was, he was explaining what he would become.
I think of Gideon who was hiding from the Midianites and God was looking for a new judge to lead Israel. An angel of the Lord appears to him and says, "Hey Gideon, you mighty man of courage," and he said it to him while he was hiding behind a wall. Hardly a mighty man of courage, but again, God does not see you in your sin. He sees you in the Son. God does not see you in your failure. He sees what you can become. Hey that rhymed. That's nice. Didn't intend that. So we see a failure: God sees potential. We see a Simon: God sees a Peter. We see a cowardly Gideon: God sees a mighty man of courage. We see the past: God sees the future. We see a mess: God sees a message. God can change everything in your story if you'll let him.
The best way to not go backwards is to go forward in the Spirit. Verse 4, "The righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit". Remember we looked at Romans 7 together? And it's a struggle of Paul. I mean we've just come off Romans 6. It says we're no longer slaves to sin. We're children of God. Everything is awesome. Then Paul in Romans 7 is "Yeah, but then there's this: the good I want to do I don't do that. The bad I don't want to do - I do that. I struggle with this and I just cry out to God 'oh wretched man that I am. Who's going to deliver me from this law of sin and death?'"
You see, the struggle of Romans 7 is that of a person trying to live Romans 6 without the help of the Holy Spirit. Again, the struggle of Romans 7 is a person who's trying to live the truths of Romans 6 without the help of the Holy Spirit. It's worth noting that the word "I" is used 30 times in Romans 7 without a single mention of the Holy Spirit. But then when you come to Romans 8, the word "Spirit" or "Holy Spirit" is used 20 times, so the idea is we need the help of the Holy Spirit. So we decide to walk in the Spirit.
You see, when you get up in the morning you make choices. I'm either going to walk in the Spirit today or I'm going to walk in the flesh today. One person gets up in the morning and they open their Bible and they read what the Bible has to say and they pray and then they're on their way to work "Oh, I have an hour commute". Yeah well they listen to Christian radio or they listen to good podcasts that have messages or other things that will encourage them spiritually or praise and worship music. Then even at their lunch break they open the Word of God again and they're involved in the church and they're obviously there every Sunday. That's kind of a no brainer. But they're in a midweek study. They're in a small group. Oh and they're doing well spiritually. Imagine that.
Then there's someone else. They get up in the morning. They don't read the Bible and they listen to talk radio on their way to work and they get to church every now and then now it's around two times a month give or take. And midweek, no. Home studies or small groups, no. You see, and then they wonder why they're struggling spiritually. Now don't get me wrong because I am not trying to put someone under legalism because in fact that's what we've been freed from. This is not works righteousness, but rather listen, working righteousness. There is our part as well as God's part, and I think we need to see that. If you don't want to go backwards, you go forward and the best way to not walk in the flesh is to walk in the Spirit and to be conscious about that and take practical steps to do that each and every day.
Listen to this: every one of us should start every day by asking God to fill us with the Holy Spirit because Ephesians 5 says, "Be filled with the Holy Spirit". Speaking to yourself in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord and the word "Filled" speaks of something that's continuous as in be constantly filled over and over again with the Holy Spirit. Also in the original language, it's a command. God's saying I command you to be filled over and over again with the Holy Spirit.
What does it mean? It means that the Holy Spirit permeates my life because one way this word is translated is "Permeation" as in salt permeating meat to preserve it. God wants his spirit to permeate every area of your life. Your thought life, your marriage, your business, everything that you do. He wants to permeate it. And then another translation of the word "Filled" means to have the wind fill your sails. Have you ever been out on a lake on a little sailboat and there's no wind? Just bobbing around, and then a gust of wind comes and you hoist your sail and you pick up speed? That's the way to do it. How much better life is when I let the Holy Spirit fill my sails and give me the strength to live this life he's called me to live? I'm not talking about trying harder. I'm talking about asking God to help you because you can't do this on your own.
Point three: Spirit-led people are spiritualy minded people. This is a big one. Spirit-led people are spiritually minded people. Verse 5, "Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things. Those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit". Pause for a moment. Think about things that please the spirit. In other words, be preoccupied with things that preoccupy the Holy Spirit. What would those things be? Well the rest of Romans 8 answers that question. Here's a few things the Holy Spirit wants you to think аbout: verse 14 says, "Those who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God". Verses 15-16 tells us God removes the fear of rejection and assures us we're his children. Verses 26-27 tell us that the Holy Spirit gives us confidence to approach God in prayer.
Here's what the Holy Spirit is preoccupied with. He wants us to think about the fact that we're adopted, we're loved, and we're welcomed. Adopted, loved, and welcomed. You're adopted as a child of God. I'm adopted. That's where I got my last name Laurie. A man named Oscar Laurie, one of my mother's many husbands, adopted me and treated me as a father and I still feel a great love for him. He's in heaven now. But I'm adopted. Maybe some of you are adopted. I heard about two kids who were arguing. One was a biological son, the other was an adopted son. The biological son said to the adopted brother, "You know what? I was born into this family. You were adopted". And the adopted boy said, "Well, they chose me and they got stuck with you".
So God chose you. He adopted you. He wanted you. You are adopted, you are loved and you are welcomed. He welcomes you in prayer, so this is important when you're going through something that's stressing you out and causing you to worry. Remember, you're an adopted child of God. You are welcomed by God. God wants to hear from you and that's what it is to be spiritually minded and have your mind dominated by the Spirit. The contrast is to think about sinful things. Verse 5, "Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things".
A lot of things can fall into this category. It can be wicked, horrible things - lust, anger, and hatred. It can be empty things like fame and fortune. It can be a person that just thinks of the physical and never gives a passing thought to the spiritual. Jesus said "Don't be like nonbelievers who only think about what they're going to eat, what they're going to drink and what they're going to wear". He's not saying don't think about those things, just don't make that the only thing you think about. Be preoccupied, if you will, with the things of God. Jesus said seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things - what you'll eat, what you'll wear, what you'll drink - will be added to you.
Attempting to be righteous by trying harder is also living in the flesh. You just need to admit you can't do it on your own. That's what Paul did in Romans 7. "Oh wretched man that I am. Who's going to deliver me? I can't do this on my own". That's an important thing to say. Have you ever done that? Have you ever just cried out to God and said "God, if you don't come through for me I'm dead in the water. Lord, I need your help right now". I love what the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 42. He was so honest with God. He said "Oh God, my rock, why have you forgotten me? Why am I walking around in tears harassed by my enemies"?
By the way, there's nothing wrong with bearing your heart to God. He's not crying out against God. He's crying out to God. It's okay to say "Lord, I don't get this. Lord, I don't like this. Lord, this is frustrating. Where are you? Why are my enemies prevailing over me? Why is this happening to me"? It's okay to say that to God, but then I love what the Psalmist does. He sort of corrects his own thinking and in verse 11 he says, "Why am I discouraged and why is my heart so sad? I'll put my hope in God. I'll praise him again for he is my Savior and my God".
I love that fact that he cries out to God in frustration. He's honest. It's heartfelt. He's candid. And then he corrects himself. "Hey man, put your hope in God. You can yet trust him. He's come through for you before. He'll come through for you again". So we cry out to God.
Number four: The Holy Spirit is at home in the hearts of Spirit-led believers. Verse 9, "You who are in the Spirit, if indeed, the Spirit of God dwells in you". Now listen, when you become a Christian the Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of you. The Bible says that we're convicted by the Spirit and then ultimately when we believe we're sealed by the Spirit then the Bible tells us we can be filled with the Spirit and empowered by the Spirit. So this all happens to the follower of Jesus. But this is very important wording that Paul uses here. He says, "If the Spirit dwells in you," the word dwell means to be at home.
See there's a difference between the Spirit being in you, and the Spirit being at home in you. Have you ever been to someone's house and you just feel at home. You're comfortable. Have you ever been to someone's house and you don't feel at home. Let's say that mom and dad are having a fight there. I kind of want to go now. Let's say the food sucks. You don't want to hang out there. Let's say the house has a bad smell. I don't want to be here much longer. My point is simply some homes I don't want to be in and other homes I don't want to leave. The idea here is the Holy Spirit is at home. He's at home. He's comfortable there. Is he comfortable in your life?
The Bible tells us that there are certain sins we can commit that offend the Holy Spirit. We can grieve the spirit. We can make the Holy Spirit sad. We don't want to do that, but we want to let him have the rule of our home. In our home, Cathe's in charge of all decor. All decisions of what colors walls are, furniture, pictures. I'll give my input. Now I have my little department. Anything mechanical, I'm into that. It's like okay we're buying a toaster. I'm going to research toasters now. I get into all that stuff. But you decide in the house. I'll tell her what I think and she decides. Listen, I've been married 45 years. Listen to what I'm telling you, I just let her have her way. Most of the time she's right. Sometimes I disagree. What does it matter? We have peace. Peace in the home.
Let the Holy Spirit have his way in your home. You can say, "All right, well Lord I kind of think this and I sort of think that" and the Holy Spirit is like, "Okay, but this is what I want" then that's what we're going to do because I want you to dwell in my heart. I want you to be at home in my heart. I want you to be comfortable there and I want you to be ruling there.
One last point: Spirit-led believers overcome the old life. Verse 13, "If you live according to the flesh you will die: but if, by the Spirit, you put to death the deeds of the body you will live". You can't do it on your own. You can try all day long. Crucify the flesh. No. Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. If you go forward, you won't go backwards. The best defense is a good offense. Modern translation of Romans 8:13 says: "So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!". That's a fun translation. I think it really catches the gist of what Paul is saying.
Listen, the best way to put something to death is deprive it of oxygen. You don't feed the flesh: you starve it. Don't cater to those things: focus your energies on walking in the Spirit and being closer to Jesus. One last verse - you say "You said that was your last point". I said that was the last point. This is the last verse. Verse 14, "For as many as are led by the Spirit, they are the sons of God".
Closing question: Are you a child of God? We sang earlier "I am a child of God. I'm no longer a slave to sin". Are you a child of God? You say, "Well, we're all God's children". Actually, we aren't. Hate to break that to you. We're all created by God. We're all made in the image of God. We're all loved by God, but we are not all God's children in a technical biblical sense. The Bible says, "For as many has received Him he gave them the power to become sons of God. Daughters of God". So the way I become a child of God is not by birth in a Christian home, it comes about by rebirth.
Jesus said you must be born again. There must be a moment when I say "Lord, I know I'm a sinner and I know you're the Savior and I ask you to forgive me and come and live in my life". Then, you are reborn, born again, and then you become a child of God. Back to this horrible story of this young lady who took her life who wrote "I have accepted hope is nothing more than delayed disappointment and I'm just plain old-fashioned tired of feeling tired". I wish I could've told her hope is not delayed disappointment. I would've told her hope has a name and it's Jesus and that's who you need and that's who we all need right now.