Confident Assurance

Confident Assurance

“Confident Assurance!”

(Romans 8:1-17)
Series: The Gospel for Real Life (7 of 8 )

Words in Black: Todd Linn

Words in Red: Rich Stratton


  • Take your Bibles and join us in Romans, chapter 8 (p. 761).


If you’re visiting with us we have been in a powerful study of the Gospel in both Sunday school and worship.  We are reading through this book by Jerry Bridges, The Gospel for Real Life, reading two chapters a week and then discussing them in Sunday school.  Then in our worship hour Brother Todd and I are team preaching through a passage of Scripture that reinforces the truths you are reading in the book.  Remember that every Christian needs to be involved weekly in both a small group and a big group.  We need both: small group Sunday school class and big group, corporate worship.  Thank you, Sunday school teachers, for stressing the importance of coming to worship and thank you for working each week through MTV—mail, telephone, visit—making those weekly contacts with Sunday school members and Sunday school prospects.  Every Christian needs to be connected in a big group and small group.


  • Please stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word.


1There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.


  • Pray.




Last week in our third morning worship service I shared a statement one of our members made to me at the end of the second worship hour.  He came up to me and said he was enjoying reading this book, The Gospel for Real Life, and he said, “You know, I’m ashamed to admit it.  But after 71 years, I’m finally beginning to understand the Gospel.”  That statement makes our study worth every second of every hour.  This is my hope and prayer; that every one of us would really grasp the full meaning of the Gospel and treasure the unsearchable riches of Christ.


That’s the Apostle Paul’s desire in the Book of Romans.  And this chapter, chapter 8, is about the assurance of our salvation.  We want to take a brief journey through these verses and then leave you with a few points of encouragement about how we can be sure that we are saved.  Look again at verse 1:


There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.


The New King James adds, “who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit,” but that phrase is not in the oldest Greek manuscripts.  It comes later in verse 4, but the original is simply, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”


This phrase is the main point of chapter 8.  Verse 1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” What Paul says in verse 2 and following is just a fuller working-out of this phrase.  His conclusion in verses 38-39:


38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,

39 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.


He’s talking about the fact that our salvation is secure forever.  Verse 2:


2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.


Paul is saying that the Gospel has saved him forever.  “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” is the Gospel.  The Gospel gives life, gives freedom, and saves us from sin and death.


3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,

4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.


Verses 3 and 4 teach about the work of Christ.  These verses tell why Jesus came and what He accomplished.  The Law, the Old Testament moral commands, could not save us.  We could not perfectly keep the law, but Jesus Christ could and did.  He is our glorious substitute.  He lived the law for us and died for us, taking the penalty for our sins.  He has done this for Christians, those who walk “according to the Spirit.”  Those who walk “according to the flesh” are the non-Christians.  Paul continues to contrast the saved and lost.  Verses 5 and following:


5 For those who live according to the flesh (non-Christians) set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit (Christians), the things of the Spirit.

6 For to be carnally minded (to think and live as a non-Christian) is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

7 Because the carnal mind (the non-Christian) is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be (the non-Christian is a sinner by nature).

8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.


Paul says non-Christians, those “who live according to the flesh,” cannot please God.  This goes against popular ideas today that we can please God.  Many people think they can please God by being good and by living an exemplary life and by giving to charity, and so forth.  But the Bible says apart from Christ we cannot please God.  Paul contrasts this non-Christian with the Christian, verse 9:


9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit (he’s talking to Christians), if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.


The Christian has within him the Holy Spirit and this is why he’s different.  It’s not that he is perfect and no longer struggles with sin, but his life is no longer dominated and characterized by a pattern of sinful living.  He is changed.  But not everyone has the Spirit within himself or herself.  That’s why Paul adds in verse 9, “if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you (if!).” Paul adds, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”  Not everyone is saved.  Not everyone is a “child of God.”  Remember from last week: we are either a “Child of God” or a “Child of Adam.”  We are either saved or lost.  Verse 10:


10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.


Because the Holy Spirit dwells within us, we have the promise that this physical body of ours, a body that is breaking down day-by-day, will one day be changed into a body that will never again break down.  We will receive one day a glorified body.  See, the Christian is saved in the spirit, but sin remains in the body.  The body is not yet saved.  Paul is teaching the future resurrection and glorification of our bodies.


I got my eyes examined last week at Len’s Crafters.  I’m a bit nearsighted, which means I can’t see things far away too well, and I asked the doctor how long he thought it would be before I had also had difficulty seeing things up close.  Referring to my 45-year-old body, he said, “Well, you’re living on borrowed time.”  He was older than I.  I wanted to say, “You tell me about borrowed time, grandpa!”  But I’m a minister so I didn’t say that.  I told him I agreed and that as a minister I have often said that the moment we are born we begin to die.  We don’t usually think of it that way, but it’s true.  Our bodies do not last forever.  They break down over time.  The older we get the more quickly they seem to break down.  But one day we will receive a new body, like unto the Lord Jesus Christ’s body.


Jerry Bridges talks about this a great deal in Chapter 14, the chapter entitled, “We shall be like Him.”  And one of the things Bridges stresses is that one day we will have a new body, a glorified body, like the body of our Lord Jesus Christ.  John says in


1 John 3:2, “But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him,” like Him in spirit and like Him in body.  Paul says in:


Philippians 3:20-21, “Our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.”


When I perform a funeral I often remind the family that, for the Christian, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  We bury a body, but the soul of our Christian loved one is with the Lord.  I don’t know what a soul looks like, but I know that our saved loved ones go on to be with the Lord in heaven and everyone knows one another there.  And one day Christ will return and raise up these bodies that have been buried and will change them in an instant into a new body to be inhabited by our soul.  And we remain in this glorified body forever and ever.


Our justification leads to glorification.  What a great truth!


12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors — not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.


Paul says we are debtors, or obligated, to live according to the Spirit, not to the flesh.  See, we still struggle with sin.  As long as we live in this world we will battle sin in the body.  As long as we await glorification, we will fight the sinful nature.  Verse 13 teaches we are to “put to death the deeds of the body.”  The Puritans called this “mortifying our sin.”  We are born-again, but we still have sin that remains in our bodies.  So we are to “kill” the sin that remains in our bodies until we get new bodies, glorified bodies.  We are to be led by the Spirit of God.  Verse 14:


14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.


Christians are regarded as “sons of God.”  God is our Father and we are His children.  We are brothers and sisters with the same Heavenly Father.  Our father once was Adam, but now we are “in Christ” and God is our Father.  Verse 15:


15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear (that is, you are no longer a slave, a slave to sin), but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”


God adopts us as His very own.  Remember from last time: “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God (1 John 3:1)!”  It is by the Spirit of God that we cry out, “Abba, Father!”  This is an intimate way of referring to God.  It’s something like, “Dear Father.”


16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,


We know that we are His children because the Holy Spirit assures us of our relationship with Him.  That is what this phrase means.  The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit—our human spirit—that we are children of God.  I know I am a child of God.


17 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.


We are joint heirs with Christ.  We share in the glory that is Christ’s.  Of course, we cannot share in the glory without also sharing in the suffering.  Paul transitions here to talk about Christian suffering and goes on to say, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory” to come.  We suffer here, but glory is to come.  Suffering here, glory hereafter.


Now in the time remaining we want to really drive home this matter of confident assurance.  Did you know God wants us to be absolutely certain about our salvation?  1 John 5:13 says, “These things I have written that you may know that you have eternal life.”  Some think it is presumptuous of us to say we know we have eternal life, but it is not.  God wants us to know.  He wants us to be certain of our salvation. I’ve shared this poem before:


Some think so, they hope so, they trust so they guess so;

But I know, I know, I am saved

For I’ve opened my heart’s door and Christ has come in

And I know that He saves me and keeps me from sin;

Some think so, they hope so, they trust so, they guess so

But I know, I know I am saved.


1 John 5:13, “These things have I written that you may know you have eternal life.”


From your reading in Chapter 13 this past week, Bridges provides three ways that God assures us that we have eternal life and we want to review these now.  First


1) We have the Promises of His Word


Romans 8 opens with this verse that every one of us should commit to memory: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (8:1).”


Question for Christians: How much condemnation is upon us when we sin?

Answer: There is therefore now NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.


To be “in Christ” means His righteousness completely covers us forever, therefore removing forever all condemnation.  Never forget this picture: (one hand covering the other).  Philippians 3:9, we are “in Him, not having (our) own righteousness…but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”  We are forever clothed in the righteousness of Christ.


All of our sin is forgiven, all sin past, present and future.  Paul sums up the chapter with this strong statement that God’s promise to save is forever.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God, verses 38-39:


38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,

39 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.


Now while God no longer condemns us, Satan does.  He condemns us by getting us to question whether we really are saved.  We can almost hear him say to us, “How can you possibly be a Christian given what you just did or thought in your heart?!”


Bridges reminds us of Zechariah 3:1-4.  He explains:


Joshua is pictured as standing before the angel of the Lord, with Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.  But God rebukes Satan, takes away Joshua’s filthy clothes (depicting his sin), and puts rich garments (symbolizing the robe of Christ’s righteousness) on him.  Perhaps Paul had this passage from Zechariah in mind when he wrote, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies (Romans 8:33).  God no longer allows Satan to accuse us before Him (138).


But while Satan can no longer accuse us before God, Satan accuses us.  So what do we do when we seem to hear Satan accuse us to ourselves?  We look to the cross and see Christ there who died for even that sin we just committed.  So we don’t minimize the sin or write it away as unimportant.  We confess and repent.  But rather than wallow endlessly in guilt and shame, we flee to the cross and preach the Gospel to ourselves and rise up victoriously.


If you have never seen the movie, Luther, you’ve got to see it.  We have a copy of it in our church library.  There’s a great scene where Luther is preaching and it is shortly after his conversion, shortly after his understanding that he could never please God according to the Roman Catholic understanding of a faith in Christ plus works of his own.  He comes to understand that one is saved by grace through faith in Christ alone.  And in this scene he is talking about how to deal with Satan when Satan accuses us.  The scene opens with Luther’s sharing about how he had previously conceived God as terrible and unforgiving.  He says, “That’s how I thought of God, but I was wrong.”  Watch this scene:


[Video Clip; Luther the Movie]


I love that!  Let me repeat the last words there:


If we truly believe that Christ is our Savior, then we have a God of love, and to see God in faith is to look upon His friendly heart.  So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: “I admit that I deserve death and hell.  What of it?  For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction in my behalf.  His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God.  Where He is, there I shall be also.


There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.  Jesus suffered condemnation in our place.  Praise God for this wonderful promise.  We are saved forever.  We have the Promises of God.  Secondly:


2) We have the Witness of His Spirit in our Hearts


Verse 16 says, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”


Bridges says it’s mysterious how it works, how God’s Spirit interacts with our human spirit, but the point is that we have within us this strong assurance we are children of God.  The Christian, the true Christian, knows inwardly that he or she is a child of God.  This may come after a long period of doubt and struggle, but eventually the Christian comes to know that he or she is, indeed, a child of God.   Bridges explains:


This inner witness of the Spirit is highly personal.  That is, the Spirit tailors His witness to our particular temperament and circumstances.  Each of us comes to the point of trusting in Christ from different experiences—some from a flagrantly sinful life, others from a highly moral and even religious background.  For the former, there may have been a deep, penetrating assurance that his sins are forgiven, that he has been washed clean and has a new life in Christ.  For the moral or religious person there may be a sense of relief that she no longer has to try to earn God’s favor.  For me, it was a quiet sense of peace; my five-year struggle with God was over.  In every case, though, it is the Spirit’s application of the gospel to our lives that produces this inner witness (140).


We are talking about three ways that God assures us that we have eternal life.  We have the promises of God, we have the witness of His Spirit in our hearts.  Number three:


3) We have the Transforming Work of the Spirit in our Lives


Paul mentions the Holy Spirit some 20 times in these verses in Romans 8.  He talks about our walking in the Spirit (v.4) because the Holy Spirit is within us (v.9).  One of the ways the Holy Spirit works in our lives is His giving us the ability to love one another.  We are a family.  We are “children of God (v. 16),” and if children of God, then brothers and sisters to one another.  1 John 3:14 says, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers.”  If we are truly born again we have a love for all Christians.  We love our brothers and sisters.


We talked about this a bit last Wednesday in our systematic theology group.  Several of us are reading through Wayne Grudem’s, Systematic Theology, and discussing our readings each week as we meet in the sanctuary.  I want to share with you a quote from Grudem about loving our brothers and sisters.  He’s writing about how Christians reflect the beauty of God in their lives and He says, “It is right that we long to be in the fellowship of God’s people in which God’s character is manifested, for when we delight in the godliness of God’s people, we are ultimately delighting in God Himself as we see His character evidenced in the lives of His people (220).”


This is an awesome thought.  Why do Christians naturally love one another?  Why is it that we long to be in the presence of one another?  It is because God is in us.  And we are actually, ultimately, drawn not so much to that person, as we are to God who is in that person.  See?  Isn’t that fascinating?!   So one of the assurances that we are children of God is that we have the Holy Spirit within us transforming us, enabling us to love others, drawing us to Himself and drawing us into weekly fellowship with other Christians in a local church family. So if we have no desire to be among Christians regularly, no desire to be weekly in both small group and big group with other believers, it may be because we do not have the Holy Spirit within us.


Christian: thank God for the promises of God.  “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Thank God for the witness of the Spirit.  “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”  And thank God for the transforming work of the Spirit in our lives, giving us an ability to love others and a desire to be with others because we are delighting in God Himself as we see His character evidenced in the lives of His people.


  • Stand for prayer.

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