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Jack Graham - Spirit-Filled Living


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    Jack Graham - Spirit-Filled Living
TOPICS: Essential Gospel

This is the book of Romans and we couldn't be in a more important passage of Scripture than we are today and the days coming up, and that is Romans chapter 8. So take your Bibles and turn to Romans chapter 8. This is a message for a Christian in all times, but certainly in times of struggle and suffering, because the message of Romans chapter 8 is a message regarding security and life in the Spirit. Romans 8 has been called the greatest chapter in the Bible. We could debate that; there are many chapters in the Bible, there are many great chapters in the Bible. This is the greatest book ever written! It is the infallible, inerrant, eternal Word of God! And everything else we learn is through the lens of this Book. Which is the book of redemption, it’s the book of salvation. And how you can know God and how we who are broken and ruined, how a world that is broken and ruined can be saved.

And if it’s the greatest book, and then if you say Romans 8 is the greatest chapter. We might again debate what is the greatest chapter of the Bible, you might say that Romans 8, verse 28 is the greatest verse in the Bible. "For we know that all things work together for the good to those who love the Lord and who are called according to His purpose". So we’re looking to the Book, the greatest Book and the greatest chapter at the heart, the greatest verse, or one of the greatest verses in the Bible, Romans chapter 8, verse 28. But it’s all about this security and the plan of God and the purposes of God and the protection of God and the provision of God in our lives as followers of Jesus.

The great evangelist D. L. Moody, nineteenth century Billy Graham, if you will, He once said, "I would rather live in Romans 8 than in the Garden of Eden", he said, "because in the perfect paradise the Garden of Eden, man sinned and fell and was cast out. But in Romans chapter 8 it begins with no condemnation and closes with no separation"! There's no failure, there's no falling, there's security, there's salvation now and forever. It begins with the words of verse 1: "There is therefore now", remember this? Now! Not when we get to heaven but now. "There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus". This is what Christ has done, is doing for us. No longer slaves, no longer bondservants, no longer living in shame. But living in hope.

When Deb and I got married, we collected some old furniture from relatives for our house out at Hardin-Simmons University. We were married as college students and so we had all these antiques for our furniture. And we had a bed. It was actually a beautiful bed. One of her aunts gave it to us and it had a beautiful bedstead, a strong footboard, and it has springs and a mattress. And it really was a nice looking bed and we had a mattress that was given to us as well. The only problem was that that mattress sagged in the middle. I couldn't figure out why back was constantly hurting! We were sagging in the middle! We had a strong headboard and a strong footboard but sagging in the middle!

And I often think about that old headboard and that old footboard and that old antique bed and it’s descriptive unfortunately of so many Christians lives. I mean it’s strong at the front end. You have salvation in Christ. You know that you have been saved, forgiven, that Christ is given you eternal life. I pray you know that! And it’s strong at the back end on the footboard. I mean, you know you’re going to heaven. You believe Christ is coming for you. So you got the front end settled and the back end settle, but so many are sagging in the middle! And you got aches and pains spiritually. So many Christians don't understand the Christian life is to be lived in victory from the beginning to the end and throughout all eternity! And how are we to live this victory? How can we live strong in the middle? All the way through! From the beginning to the end and forever!

I'm talking to you today and over these next weeks from Romans 8 about life in the Spirit, because that's what this is all about. This security we have, this salvation we have is given to us by the Spirit. You know God planned our salvation. God the Father planned our salvation. God the Son by His blood on the cross suffered and died and rose again to provide our salvation, or rather to purchase our salvation. And then the third person of the Trinity- coequal, co-eternal with God Himself, the Holy Spirit, God the Spirit has procured or provided this salvation to all of us. We are born again by the Spirit. And Jesus said, "Unless you are born of the Spirit, you will never see the kingdom of God". So God the Father planned it. God the Son purchased it, and God the Holy Spirit has provided it, procured it for us!

So the Christian life is the Christ life, it is the Spirit-filled life, it is the God life in you. Beginning in verse 2, the Scripture says, chapter 8 of Romans, "For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh". Not in sinful flesh, but in the likeness of sinful flesh. Christ came in humanity, though He never sinned. "And he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us", that is, that we might be saved, that we might be declared righteous in Christ, "who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit".

The next message is going to be called "Walking in the Spirit". What does that mean? "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. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you".

So if you are a saved person, if you have been born again from above, as Jesus taught us, then the Spirit of the living God is present in you. God dwells in you. You are a sanctuary, a temple of the Holy Spirit. God dwells in you. And anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ, does not belong to Him. Underscore there the little phrase, 3 words, Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Christ. Four words. But Christ is in you! Although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit of life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal body through His Spirit who dwells in you. Spirit-filled living, what is it? The Christian life apart from the Spirit of God, living in you is impossible.

If the Spirit of a living God, if Christ is not in you then you are not a saved person. But when you come to faith in Christ, then He moves in, His Spirit moves in. And so verse 9 speaks to the Spirit of Christ, and verse 10 speaks of Christ in you. So the Christian life is the Christ life in your life. The Spirit-filled life is the Jesus life in you! And the Holy Spirit does numerous things in us, saving us. That's one thing. I have a little list for you. He is saving us, and then He is securing us. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. What God starts He finishes. Sanctifying us, which means He is making us more and more like Himself. This is the work of the Spirit; to make us like Jesus, and then sending us, empowering us to take the Gospel into the world!

My friend David Jeremiah writes of an unusual situation in a former pastor. He now pastors in Southern California in San Diego. Well known author and Bible teacher, wonderful friend, David Jeremiah. He was writing of a lady who made an appointment, came to his office and when she came, she brought her Bible with her, and said to her pastor, "Here, you can take it. I'm done with this". She said, "I can't do this anymore. I can't live this life anymore. It's too much pain, too much struggle, too much sorrow. I'm out! Here's my Bible! Take it"! You ever felt like quitting? Paul did. Yeah, the Apostle Paul.

Remember Romans chapter 7? When he was saying, "O, wretched man that I am. Who can deliver me from this body of death"? It was a desperate cry of an unhappy man, a miserable man who was struggling to do the right thing. He said, "I want to do what is right to please God, but I find myself doing what is wrong. That what I want to do, I do not. That which I do not want to do, I don't do that which I want to do, rather, I do! O wretched man that I am"! And then after that desperate cry, thank God, he made a declaration. He said, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord". He declared his victory in Jesus. But if you've ever come to the place like Paul when you're crying out "I can't do this! I don't know if I can make this"! Or like that woman, you want to, as some are doing today, apparently, they're calling it deconstructing their faith. Just giving up! "I can't do this anymore! It's too hard"!

But I tell you, if that’s you, I have a hope and a promise for you, a promise from God, and that is it’s not a matter of you trying harder or doing more. But trusting Him who already lives in you and His Spirit who is alive in you will enable you, not just to start, but to finish the Christian life and all the way through. The victory is in Jesus and this is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is mentioned 20 times in Romans chapter 8, while it was just mentioned 3 times previously in the book of Romans. But now because of Christ alive in us, we have a new desire. Before Jesus we had really no desire for God. No one seeks God. We may have a desire for religion or other things but no real desire for God.

But now we have new desires. We want to live a righteous life; we want to live godly lives. We have a new direction: we were going in one way, but we turned around and repented and now we're walking with Jesus and we're talking to Jesus, and in order to this we, oh, by the way, we have a new destiny. We're as sure for heaven as if we were already there. And on the way we have this new dynamic, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit who lives in us! This new desire includes the desire to live godly lives. Titus chapter 2, verses 11, 12 and 13. Look at it on the screen, "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people", Christ died for all, not just a few, "training us to renounce to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for", looking to the horizon, "waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ".

This is called the blessed hope. The appearing of Jesus Christ. Romans 8 is all about this. The God life, the Spirit-filled life, the Jesus life. Did you know that Jesus lived a Spirit-filled life? Though God Himself, the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus was Spirit-filled. So if you're taking notes, you don't have much longer in this message but the Spirit-filled life is a Jesus-centered life, it is a Jesus-centered life. The same Spirit that filled Jesus, fills you. The very name Christ-Jesus means Anointed by the Spirit. Jesus was anointed and appointed by the Spirit as the Messiah! The Spirit of God was the one who conceived Jesus. That beautiful story in the account of Mary as she was overshadowed by the Spirit and conceived in her womb. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit! When Jesus was baptized, the Spirit of God rested upon Him, the Spirit of God came and gave Him authority and the baptism of the Spirit at that point in His life. Jesus was led by the Spirit in the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, where He overcame the devil.

Jesus performed wonders and miracles in the power of the Spirit! His critics and those who condemned Him, condemned Him said, "You're doing these things in the power of Satan". Jesus said, "That's blasphemy to attribute the works of God and the works of the Spirit to the works of Satan". Jesus performed these miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit! He is the Messiah! He is the Man-God, the God-Man, but the Spirit of God is filling Him! He preached in the power of the Holy Spirit when He went to His hometown Nazareth and opened up the Scriptures for the first time there in the Synagogue recorded, He said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me to preach the Gospel to the broken and to the poor and to those who need Him". That's Jesus, a Spirit-filled Man. He lived a perfect, Spirit-filled life. He lived a perfectly sinless life. He kept all the commandments.

We read in this passage that God sent His Son in the likeness of human flesh, in the likeness of sinful flesh. So He wore our flesh, but He bore our sin to the cross. It is this Spirit-filled life that we all can live because Christ lives in us. To know Jesus is to love Him and to love Him is to serve Him and to serve Him is to walk with Him every day. I tell you, I would walk with Jesus, I would follow Jesus if there was no heaven or no hell! Because Jesus makes life worth living if there were no heaven, if there were no hell! There is both a heaven and a hell. But for this life to walk with Jesus, to talk with Jesus. We say a lot about a personal relationship with Jesus. This is what we're talking about here. That Jesus is alive in you, and as noted, the same power that brought Jesus out of the grave, spiritual power is alive in us. We have the risen power of Jesus in us.

So if you're discouraged and you want to turn in your Bible, if you're struggling and you don't know if you can keep going. Maybe you're willing to give up on this whole thing and just hope for the best. No! Your birthright as a believer in Christ is to know Him and to grow in Him and to experience Him. Eternal life begins the moment you receive Christ and this eternal life is an empowered life. More about that the next time. But let me just maybe close this with a testimony. I was saved as a child. And then as a teenager God called me to preach, 15-16 years of age. And God spoke to my heart as a young Christian. And as clearly as I can stand here and say it again today, God spoke to me and told me to do three things with my life. You ready for it? Number one, to preach the Gospel and teach the Bible, to preach the Gospel and teach the Bible. That's my calling.

The second one, and I like this one very much, is to marry a godly woman. I was a young teenager but God said, "Wait on a godly woman. Give your life to someone who loves Jesus like you love Jesus". And then "Lead a family to take your faith forward in the next generation". God spoke to my heart and said that. And then the third thing that He told me was, "Be a pastor all your life". Don't do anything else. Don't desire anything else, just be a shepherd. Read and feed the flock of God. Shepherd His church. So I said to those three things: the call to preach Christ and teach the Bible, to marry a godly woman and build a godly family and legacy together, and then to pastor and lead and shepherd the flock of God, the church of God, I said, "Lord, anywhere, anytime, all the time".

And after all these years, that call to preach Christ and teach the Bible by the Spirit is still echoing in my heart. God gave me a godly girl named Deb to be my wife. We got married while we were in college. Now we've been married for 52 years. We're blessed with three children and their spouses who love the Lord and serve Him. Now we have eight most perfect grandchildren who by God's grace will keep it going for generations to come. And I've been a pastor now for over 50 years, starting when I was a college student. And I've been strengthened and sustained by will power, by intellectual power, by personality... None of that! "'Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord".

So I keep doing this, I keep showing up and looking younger than ever because the Spirit of God enlivens me and empowers me! First Corinthians 15:58: "Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for you know your labor in the Lord is not in vain". And when you do it God's way, filled with the Holy Spirit, whether you're a preacher, a plumber, a baker, a candle-stick maker, an educator, a teacher, whatever God has called you to do, a doctor, a construction worker, whatever God has called you to do, do it in name of Jesus and in the power of Jesus who lives in your life! Live a Christ-centered, Christ-focus life! This is the life. And I promise you He will do it. You will never turn in your Bible! You'll never quit because God will keep you going. Keep walking in the Spirit, keep living in the Spirit, it's the Spirit of Christ in us.
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