January 31. Romans 8:7-10, The Sobering Reality of Grace, and Christopher Hitchens.

Romans 8:7-10. 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. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

It’s a pretty glaring contrast: There are those that are IN the flesh and those that are IN the Spirit.

  • In the flesh: hostile to God; cannot obey God’s law of love; cannot please God; a dead body because of sin.
  • In the Spirit: Spirit of Christ dwells in us and we belong to God; LIFE!

People can get really frustrated with Christianity. Death bed conversions. Good people don’t automatically go to Heaven. Bad people just have to “believe in Jesus” and they’re saved. It can all seem so unfair.

“If you here of a death bed conversion don’t believe it.”

Well it kind of is unfair. In fact, it’s not about God being fair. It’s about grace.

When Paul places us all into one of two categories, like he’s doing above, it serves as a warning for us. ONLY THOSE THAT ARE IN THE SPIRIT PLEASE GOD.

This is not about behavior. This is not about religion. This is not about how good you are. It’s about grace and faith in that grace. It’s about the work of Christ and therefore the Spirit of Christ. To be in the Spirit is to be in Christ. To be in Christ is to know that salvation has to be given to you free of charge. This means that it can be given to me on my death bed. It can be given to me when I’ve done nothing to deserve it. And, just because I’m good doesn’t mean I have received what is being offered to me as a gift.

In God’s system, being good is not the point. A good person can still be in the flesh. The sinful, unpleasing to God flesh, the flesh that leads to death, this can be the status of the person who goes to church every week, and gives to the poor, and is kind to his mother-in-law, and is a nice guy.

Because nice people don’t go to Heaven. NEW people do. Nice people don’t please God. People with faith in Christ’s work on the cross for their salvation please God. God is pleased when his GRACE is displayed. Grace is God’s ultimate character trait. God handing out eternal life to the “good” people and sending all the “bad” people to Hell does nothing to display his grace.

Wait…what? Why?

First of all, because there really is no such thing as a good person.

Romans 3:20-23. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin…. 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

“Well as long as the good outweighs the bad…right?”

Sorry. That’s still a rejection of grace. And also impossible by the way. Let’s just be honest, our bad will always outweigh our good (think about your motives, thoughts, omissions, attitudes).

Second, because giving out Heaven and Hell based on how good or bad we are is by definition a system of payment and not a system of grace. God’s system of payment is called the law. And that system was never meant to earn Heaven for us. It was meant to show us that none of us could earn it. We all come up short (Romans 3:23 again).

Romans 5:20. Now the law came in to increase the trespass

This is the sobering reality of grace: you are completely unable to be reconciled to God on your own.

So what’s the solution?

Romans 8:10b. the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Our eternal life and our righteousness are now found in the Spirit. Not in ourselves. Not in what we do. What we say. What we earn. How we compare. How good we are. No. Our life is Christ’s by faith. Our righteousness is Christ’s by faith. Faith is the solution. Trusting that to live is Christ. Christ alone.

Are you trusting in Christ alone?

This life is just a fleeting shadow I realize that life is found in You alone

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