Eighth Sunday after Trinity
“When The Spirit Lives In You”
Rev. Jacob Sutton, Pastor
St. Matthew 7.15-23; Romans 8.11-18
02 August 2020
+ In the Name of Jesus +
11 If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who is living in you. 12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh then you will have to die. If, however, through the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Rom. 8.11-13)
In the same way Our Lord makes a distinction between good trees and bad trees, the Apostle Paul here distinguishes between those who are Christians and holy, and others who are without faith and the Spirit, or who abandon and lose the Spirit – either one lives with and in the Holy Spirit, or lives according to the flesh. Rotten trees are enslaved to sin and the sinful flesh, which is fatal. The heavenly ax is laid at the root of such trees, that eternal fire is ready.
All the temptations and desires against all God’s commandments, active in your nature and inciting you to sin, are the works of the flesh. These must die. The Holy Spirit is given to you for this purpose: that now you should and can kill these sinful desires. This takes place by daily spiritual warfare, putting on the full armor of God, regularly and constantly listening to and taking to heart the Word of God, learning to confess your sins and receive absolution, especially when the conscience is stung by your sins, and by receiving the Sacrament of the Altar regularly. It is to daily remember your baptism into Christ and to live lives according to God’s Word.
The Word of God and the Spirit help you to recognize your sin, to remember what God has said about sin when you feel the attack of the flesh and the devil, and to remember what God says of you as His baptized child: you have His name, His adoption, His heritage and inheritance. You belong to Him, and you no longer need the flesh and its evil desires, you no longer need the lusting, the coveting, the anger towards others, the hatred and jealousy and gossip towards others. In Christ, one with His body, you do not truly need the evil deeds and perceived needs of your flesh, but you really do have all things you truly need from God’s gracious hand, and you need to learn to recognize that each day, to humbly give God thanks and praise, and to humbly ask for more from God’s hand.
Faith in the forgiveness of sins given in Jesus Christ is life in the Spirit, and killing off the deeds of the body. Through such faith, one grows stronger and resists sin, and does not consent to it nor let it come into effect. (Luther, Postil, AE 78:271.8-9) Resistance of sin, fighting against sin, in weakness, is not fatal or damnable, but it is a continual fleeing back to the strength found in the good tree that is the Lord Jesus Christ, the tree of life, with every good, from whose riven side flowed the water and the blood that gives genuine, real life in the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life to come.
14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Rom. 8:14–17; ESV)
Luther preaches about this epistle that it is so excellent and so comforting it “should be written with golden letters.” (LW 78:273.17) To be able to cry out, “Abba, Father!” Dearest Father! Simple, childlike words to God through the Holy Spirit – this is like the inexpressible sighing, the groans too deep for words which also come to mind that Paul speaks of later in Romans chapter 8. There is a magnificent consolation in these simple words – you are God’s child, an heir with Christ, who is your dear brother, not just a spiritual one either, but who shares your flesh and blood. You are not alone, not without help. You pray with your dear brother all the time: “Our Father who art in heaven…”!
These words mean that you have the right and privilege to implore God directly for every need, to approach the throne of grace, assured by the Spirit that you are God’s child, your heart is able to cry out to Him with a wholehearted appeal – and especially when you are in trouble, when the world turns against you, when trials weigh you down, when you are beset by temptation and your conscience is burdened, when unrelenting grief and pain do their worst. There hardly seems a day when it is possible not to be confronted by such troubles and trials.
It is especially in conflict and danger from the doubting of the flesh and the devil’s fright and affliction – that preaching of the false prophets Jesus warns us of – where we can by the Spirit’s consolation and assurance answer them and their challenges as a son of God and co-heir with Christ: “Dear Father! You are certainly my dear Father, for you have given Your dear and only Son for me. Therefore, You will not be angry with me or disown me. You see my distress and weakness, because of which You want to help and save me – for You have given Your dearest treasure to adopt me as Your child, the true Prophet, the Good and Holy Tree who has borne the fruit of my salvation and the salvation of the world, even my dearest Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered all things for my sake and for all men, that through my sufferings in this life, I also may be glorified with Him.” (Luther, AE 78.274-276)
Remember the words of the Apostle which follow our Epistle text for today: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory which is to be revealed in us.” (Rom. 8.18)
With that promise, you can face your dying and rising from this life to the next with confidence and joy, hope and expectation. You will be glorified with the living Christ. You have a gift that so many who have no faith in Christ so dearly miss out on in these dark days: you can look forward to the day of your death to this life, and, you can grieve for those who go on to heaven ahead of you with a confident and cheerful hope – for God’s children who have suffered with Christ in this life are glorified with Christ in the perfect and new world to come. God grant us all to know the dawn of that new and eternal day and very soon.
+ In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit +