Sabbath School Lesson for November 25-December 1
Leaving Paul’s chapter 7 with feelings of frustration, failure, and turmoil, chapter 8 opens to us the possibilities of freedom, victory, and peace that come when the Holy Spirit guides our thoughts and actions on a daily basis. With true justification and forgiveness behind us, God provides us with the spiritual armor to overcome our sins, sanctifying us and making us part of God’s family.
Of course, this transformation doesn’t occur automatically upon our baptism or even upon our first great encounter with God. The more we get to know God though, the closer our relationship becomes, and the more we reflect His character. We will want to be like the Champion who saved us from ourselves. Eventually our weaknesses become a thing of the past, or at least not a dominant force with which we contend.
Memory Verse: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1 KJV
This week we are encouraged by this promise of no condemnation, but are also intrigued by how to remain in Christ Jesus, and just what that requirement entails. Is it possible not to walk after the flesh, when the world is screaming for us to indulge our carnal desires? How can we stay focused on Christ and not be enticed to follow the world, especially when physical urges have so weakened our power to deny them?
Keeping in mind the seriousness of our decisions, seeing them as leading to either life or death, can give us the courage to forego life’s harmful pleasures that are drawing us away from our Creator. But ultimately, our will power must be linked to God’s will. On our own, we will experience failure every time. Only the Spirit of Christ can equip us to withstand Satan’s attacks.
And this is a major fact Paul sought to share with his Jewish friends. They needed a true faith experience with Christ, just like the sin-hardened Gentiles they were striving to reach with the gospel. We, like these stalwart Jews, need the Messiah to come into our lives every day. If nothing but to change our harsh, judgmental attitudes. No wonder Paul’s epistle to the Romans remains for us to ponder after all these years.
Sunday: In Christ Jesus
“For the law of Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2 NKJV
Our memory text, verse 1 of chapter 8, offers the Christian no condemnation. And verse 2 here then offers us freedom.
These two verses therefore encompass justification and sanctification in this way…
- no condemnation means we forego the penalty of death that sin has brought us–what happens at justification
- freedom from sin and death means we are no longer enslaved to sin–what happens at sanctification
Both benefits are only realized, however, when we are “in Christ Jesus”. So, let’s unpack that phrase. Being “in Jesus” denotes a close, personal relationship. His will becomes our will. This is a Christian who has…
- accepted Christ as his or her Savior (happens at justification)
- decided to live like Christ (happens at sanctification)
- trusted Christ completely and without question (leading to our glorification, the final step in our salvation…when He comes for us in the clouds–are you trusting Him to do that?)
Notice how Christ is front and center in every stage of our salvation!
Discussion Questions: Read Romans 7:24, 25 and 8:1. How is Jesus the answer to the sinner’s dilemma as described in chapter 7?
Read Romans 8:2 and 6:22. How does God make us free and also enslave us? Describe what being God’s slave is like.
How do freedom from condemnation and freedom from sin equate to the justification and sanctification parts of our salvation?
Monday: What the Law Could Not Do
The legalists in Paul’s day were no different than those today, who unknowingly and mistakenly believed that keeping the law would guarantee their place in heaven. While it’s true that Paul never said God’s moral law should be ignored or that it had no value, he also sought to explain its absolute uselessness when it comes to saving us.
Verses 3 and 4 of chapter 8 discourages us from trying to keep the law on our own, as many Jews had attempted to do, going all the way back to Moses (Exodus 24:7). Paul unfolded to his readers the beautiful life of the Savior and His power to enable us to condemn the flesh and walk in His Spirit.
Only through the Spirit of Christ can we ever hope to experience the freedom that results in our obedience to the law. This is why Jesus came in sinful flesh, as one of us. So He could condemn the sin that torments us and makes us slaves to Satan.
Keeping the law through Jesus can and does save us. Our walk, the way we daily conduct our lives, is impacted positively when we have Jesus as our Friend.
Discussion Questions: Read Romans 8:3, Acts 13:39, and 2 Corinthians 5:21. Would the Ten Commandments also be considered part of the law of Moses, in the minds of Paul’s Jewish readers? Although Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh, what was different about His life, compared to ours? How does Jesus’ life of sinlessness impact how we are able to live today?
Read Romans 8:3, 4 and Psalms 23:3. How is the righteous requirement of the law fulfilled in Christ? Does our “walk” matter, and how can we be assured that we are walking in a way that leads to righteousness?
Romans 7:18. How is “in me” a good way to describe our life apart from Christ?
Tuesday: The Flesh or the Spirit
Continuing in verses 5-8, Paul tells us in no uncertain terms that it’s the state of our mind that gives us our problems in overcoming sin. He contrasts the carnally minded with the spiritually minded:
- To be carnally minded, those whose minds are set on sinning, leads to death, enmity (hatred) towards God, and the inability to please God.
- To be spiritually minded, those who live according to the Spirit, leads to life and peace.
Both states of mind affect our thoughts [our minds are set…] and actions [those who live…]. Remember that Paul’s purpose was to show the Jews that they needed Jesus more than they needed the “torah” (law). Jesus is the One who saves, not the law. The Spirit of Jesus is the only entity that can give us peace and enable us to obey God in a way that pleases Him.
Discussion Questions: Read Romans 8:5, 6, John 3:6, 7, and 1 Corinthians 15:31. What “cure” does Jesus recommend for us to become spiritually minded? How often is this death and new birth to take place?
Read Romans 8:7, 8 and James 4:4. How is being carnally minded the same as being friends with the world? What parts of the world are off limits for the Christian?
Read Galatians 5:22-26. How does this description add to Paul’s words in his epistle to the Romans? How does knowing what sin and goodness look like contribute to our having victory over sin?
Wednesday: Christ in You
Paul further educates us about the Spirit of Christ in verses 9-14. We are reminded that He who raised Christ from the dead is also able to raise us from our life of sin and death. In fact, the only way we are able to overcome sin is through this Spirit of Christ working in us.
Many are puzzled and disheartened by the thought that they are obligated not to sin any more. But this obligation, as evidenced by our baptism, is an agreement that our desire is to always allow the Spirit to lead us.
Its rather like a marriage vow. We wholeheartedly bind ourselves to our spouse, but there is always the possibility that the vow will be broken, and reconciliation will be needed to make the marriage whole again. God is always willing to mend the relationship and forgive our misdeeds, when we are repentant and seek to once again please our heavenly Father.
We mustn’t hesitate to enter into a relationship with God with the fear that we will not measure up. The only way God can help us is when we wholeheartedly devote ourselves to His service and invite Christ to live in us.
Some of the Jews evidently found this concept hard to understand. They had been taught that keeping the law was their ticket to heaven. And obviously, many Christians even today struggle with this legalistic mindset. Paul was intent on showing them the true faith-laden gospel, which alone will save us.
Discussion Questions: Read Romans 8:9, 10 and Matthew 12:30. What determines if we are for God or against Him? Why is there no middle ground?
Read Romans 8:11. How can we experience a type of resurrection before our mortal bodies die? What does this new birth or resurrection do for us?
Read Romans 8:12-14 and Galatians 6:8. Besides a new life here and now, what kind of life will becoming a son of God mean for us?
Thursday: The Spirit of Adoption
We have seen in chapter 8 the three stages of salvation…
- we are in Christ (justifying us)
- Christ dwells in us (sanctifying us)
- we are joint heirs with Christ (leading to our glorification with Him)
“and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:17 NKJV
Fear is a thing of the past. We no longer fear that our sins are not forgiven, that we will not measure up to God’s standards, or that we will not have a home at last in heaven with Christ. 1 John 4:18 tells us that “perfect love casts out fear.” God takes away our bondage of fear (v. 15). And in its place we can cry out with love, “Abba, Father.”
There is honor in this heavenly adoption, even when we suffer here on earth. Didn’t our Brother Jesus also suffer? Our suffering leads to our glorification. So we can bear it, knowing that His Spirit is with us to the end (Matthew 28:20).
Discussion Questions: Read Romans 8:15 and 2 Timothy 1:7. What replaces the fear of bondage?
Read Romans 8:16, 17 and Acts 26:18. Why is glorification, receiving our inheritance, an important part of our salvation?
Read Hebrews 11:8-10. What part did faith play in the Abrahamic covenant?
Chapter 8 of Romans provides a wonderful “happy ending” for us in our journey to heaven. Seeing the end prize is so important for God’s children. Paul has made it clear that those who are “in Jesus” will find their destination possible. We are joint heirs with Christ, which has multiple benefits, even while we are still on this earth.
- Sunday–there’s no condemnation for those who are “in Jesus Christ” (Romans 8:1, 2)
- Monday–we must see correctly the place of the law in our lives (Romans 8:3, 4)
- Tuesday–what’s the difference in being carnally minded and spiritually minded (Romans 8:5-8)
- Wednesday–our victory over sin is only possible as Christ dwells in us (Romans 8:9-14)
- Thursday–our adoption as joint heirs with Christ takes away our fear (Romans 8:15-17)
Since the lesson only covered the first half of chapter 8, we would do well to read and contemplate the second half as well. Here Paul expands on the theme of our kinship with Jesus and the benefits it brings to our existence, even here and now. The last half of the chapter contains many often-quoted gems worth our prayerful thought and study. Such as…
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” v. 18 NKJV
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” v. 26 NKJV
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” v. 28 NKJV
“What then shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” v. 31 NKJV
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” v. 38, 39 NKJV
Next Week: Children of the Promise
To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to https://www.absg.adventist.org/
All Outlook blogposts by Teresa Thompson, are at http://outlookmag.org/author/teresathompson/