The Spirit is Life
Bible Reading: Romans 8
Romans 8:9-11, “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. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is 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 bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
John 6:63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.”
We who work in hospice are regularly confronted with the reality of death. For a patient to be committed to hospice—effectively, a death sentence—is not easy for either the patient or the family. Then, as the patient’s remaining days evaporate—one-by-one—the growing reality of pending death settles in. Hearts are increasingly burdened with the sense of expected loss. Nothing can be done to escape the inevitable. The loving concern and care of family and friends and hospice workers is both necessary and helpful and a true blessing, yet with death comes a depth of sorrow and hurt that God alone can heal.
It is as Derek W. H. Thomas has noted: “Our bodies are dying. This fact is true of every person in the world. Even the fittest body is dying. Sin brought this about… We (in the affluent West) live, for the most part, in a death-defying, live-for-the-moment-down-here culture. Our culture has sanitized death. Few people outside the medical and funeral professions come into regular contact with death. When death visits, many are unprepared for it, and consequently grief counseling has become a major industry of our time.”
The believer need not live in fear of death, because he is indwelt by the Spirit of God and the Spirit of God is a guarantor to us of future resurrection. Note the repeated emphasis on the indwelling of the Spirit in Romans 8:9-11: “in the Spirit;” “the Spirit of God dwells in you;” “the Spirit of Christ… Christ is in you;” “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you;” “his Spirit who dwells in you.” The interplay between the indwelling of Christ and of the Spirit is interesting and instructive. While they are two separate persons, their ministry is intertwined. After all, the Spirit’s ministry is to mediate the presence of Jesus to us, in us, and through us. But note further that we find all three persons of the trinity in this passage, for verse 11 speaks of “he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead,” which is a reference to the Father. All three persons of the trinity are said to have a role in our bodily resurrection!
S Lewis Johnson has commented on this: “This verse is the final answer to the cry of Romans 7:24, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?“ The power of indwelling sin and physical death over the believer’s body is destroyed in the bodily resurrection. The logic of the apostle is clear. The presence of the Spirit of God in our mortal bodies is the guarantee of the bodily resurrection, for He is the one who raised up Jesus Christ.”
Plants die. Animals die. People die. All creation groans under the weight of the curse. Yet the indwelling Spirit testifies to another, greater, omnipotence which works a dramatic change in us. “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, were is you sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:53-56)! Praise the Lord! You have the Spirit and the Spirit gives life!
Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!