The Power Within

Romans 8:1-11

At the very end of last year we bought a new computer, because we were a little overdue.   We had nursed the one we had along so that it was on its last legs and we got nine years out of it.   The average lifespan for a personal computer is three to five years, so I think we did fairly well with it.   The new computer we got was roughly the same price range as the one we bought in 2010, but it’s hardware specifications were quite a bit different.  The new computer is faster, has double the storage space, and is a much slimmer and lighter weight design.   This really is not a surprise because computer have been evolving and improving at a remarkable rate for over fifty years.     For instance, there lunar lander had a computer on board in 1969.   This computer had 4 KB of memory.   To put that in perspective most new smart phones today have 4 GB of memory, or one million times more than the Apollo computer.   The processor on Apollo 11 ran at 0.043 MHz, where the processing power of an iPhone is 2490 MHz, which is about 100,000 times the processing power.   It truly is amazing that many of us carry computers in our pockets that are faster and more powerful than a desktop personal computer from less than twenty years ago.  That says nothing about where the cutting edge of computer technology is at.   Today the world’s fastest super computers in the world can run around 200,000 trillion calculations per second, which is a number that is honestly beyond comprehension.

Despite having such remarkable raw processing speed, even the highest end super computers in the world cannot yet match the best computer we know:  the human brain.  Computers can run mathematical computations faster than we ever can but even though we cannot process as fast what we are able to do with data is beyond the scope of computers.   For instance, there are simple pattern recognition tests that young children can compete without difficulty that a super computer will struggle with.   Super computers cannot solve the answers to even simple riddles unless the answer happens to be in their database.  They are unable to process the creative thought it takes to come up with a solution.   The best computer scientists in the world using the most advance machines ever created are making progress but studies in artificial intelligence still cannot truly get close to even basic human intelligence.   Despite the amazing progress in computers made over the last several decades it still cannot match what is already inside of us.  I think there is a lesson there, and I think it is the same one that this scripture is getting at.  Sometimes the power we are looking for is already within us.

As we continue looking at scripture from Romans, it is worth repeating that the book of Romans is one that can be a little more difficult than others.  In Romans Paul is systematically and methodically making a few different big arguments and linking them all together.  This makes Romans a great candidate for a deep dive Bible study, but it also makes it hard to pick out just a couple of verses because it is all connected.  This morning’s scripture is no different.   You might have noticed it began with therefor, meaning it connects back to the scripture that came before it.  In fact, this morning’s scripture is the conclusion of a greater thought that began back in Romans 5.  Starting in the fifth chapter of Romans Paul begins making his case for grace.  Paul argues how the mighty acts of Jesus on the cross reconcile us to God and Paul works through the relationship between grace, the Old Testament law, and sin.   This morning’s scripture then is the conclusion to all of that.   Paul’s verdict is found in verse one of this morning’s scripture: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Paul offers up evidence to back up this bold claim, and the evidence he gives is the Holy Spirit.  The conclusion to Paul’s greater point on grace is that it is the Spirit that allows us to fully live into amazing grace in our lives.

As we consider this scripture we find that much like computer science is chasing what is already in us, much of what we desire in life is already in those who have found new life in Christ.  We go through life often harboring deep emotional and spiritual yearnings.  Often we struggle to articulate what it is we are even looking for, but we have a deep seated angst because we know we still haven’t found what we are looking for.  One of the assertions we can extrapolate from this morning’s scripture is that these desires of the human soul are fully met through grace.   This grace flows from the never ending love of God, was made available to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and is tangibly felt in our lives through the workings of the Holy Spirit.   This scripture claims that in Christ, we have found what we are looking for, that Jesus is the remedy for that which ails us, that Jesus fulfills the greatest desires of hearts and souls.   It is through the Spirit that we find these longings fulfilled.  In this morning’s scripture we find three of the great longings of the human heart addressed and we find that it is through the Spirit we feel these longings being met.

Many of you know this better than I do: getting old hurts.   As we use our bodies that repeated wear and tear adds up, and before we know it the simple act of getting out of bed hurts a lot more than we really think it should.   This happens to our bodies but it also happens in our souls.   We fall short of what we know is right, we act in pride, we lash out in anger.   We say the words we wish we could take back, and we regret the things we should never have done.   Guilt is to our souls like pain is to our bodies.   It adds up, it hurts, and it holds us back. One of the great longings of the human heart is to be free of pain.   While the Holy Spirit does not remove the pain we feel in our backs in the morning, it does remove the pain of guilt.   There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.   As this morning’s scripture says Jesus already paid the price.   The eternal stain of all of guilt and all of our regrets has been erased.  For those who are in Christ Jesus, our ledger in the book of life is free and clear.  If we are in Christ, then God is not going to hold our feet over the coals or beat us up for our sins, so why do we keep doing it to ourselves?

This does not mean we get a blank check to gratify all of our sinful desires, but rather it means we have been set free.  The burden of guilt and shame no longer hold us down.  We are no longer tethered by the eternal consequences of our sins and as this morning’s scripture states we are now free to stop living according to the flesh but we are free to live according to the Spirit.

Living according to the Spirit is how we meet another of the great longings of our hearts.   Life feels chaotic, and that is especially true today.  Have you noticed that right now, we do not even name all of the chaos in the world, we just say “With all that is going on right now”.   It is easier to summarize it all up then name it all out.   It truly does feel like we are being tossed to and fro on a rough and unpredictable sea.  The truth is though, that we could go back thirty years, or fifty years, or eighty, or hundred, or two hundred and it would feel much the same.   The circumstances would be different, but we would still sense and feel the chaos.   This is because of one the great longings of humanity is a sense of peace.  This morning’s scripture plainly states, “but the mind governed by the spirit is life and peace.”  A mind governed by the Spirit is one that seeks to love God with all of our being, love our neighbor as ourselves, and follow God’s will in all of our actions.  A mind governed by the Spirit is one that focuses on God’s heavenly kingdom and not the chaos of the all the earthly ones.   When we allow grace to be our rock and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to be our sure footing, then it does not matter what the world does around us, because our hope is built on nothing less that Jesus blood and righteousness.    Living with a mind governed by the Spirit will not stop all that is going on right now.   The storm will rage around us, but on Christ the solid rock we will stand.   No matter what is happening when we are steadied on such a firm foundation, then we will be a beacon of life and peace in a turbulent and chaotic world.

There is one more deep longing of the human heart that the Spirit of God meets.   I think children instinctively get this longing, because life has not worn it out of them yet.  When you ask a young child what they want to do in life, they do not say they want to be a shift manager, or an accountant, or a lawyer.   They do not name good paying jobs.  Unlike adults, kids have not forgotten how to dream big.   Kids want to be princesses, they want to be knights that slay literal dragons.  They want to be super heroes or astronauts that explore strange new worlds.   Kids dream big, they want to go places, and they want to make a difference in the world.   Sadly the reality of bills, clocking in/clocking out, and the grind of life mutes that desire in us when we get older.   Most days we feel like we barely have enough energy to get through the day (and that is only after we have coffee), much less have enough energy to change the world.   However, this morning’s scripture states we already have the power to change the world within us.   Verse 11 of this morning’s scripture states, “The Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you.”

Think about how the incredibleness of that statement.   As Christians we rightfully see the resurrection of Jesus as the single most remarkable and powerful event that has ever happened and ever will happen.   The Holy Spirit that powered that miracle of miracles is the very same Spirit that all followers of Jesus are indwelled with.    Brothers and sisters in Christ, if we truly believed that, if we truly lived that then just like Jesus said we would be able to move mountains.

Most of our smart phones are a 100,000 times more powerful than the computer that sent astronauts to the moon and we mostly use them to argue with strangers on Facebook and look at cat videos.   The supercomputers in pockets are capable of so much more than we use them for, and the Spirit is the same way.   The power to transform this world, the power that brought life out of death, is already in us.  We can look at needs that need to be met, we can see people lost, we can see injustice happening, and say wouldn’t it be nice if we could do something.  But friends, we can.   The power is already within.   If we submit to God’s law, if we live with a mind governed by the Spirit, then through us God can do miracles.

There are deep longings in every human heart, and I fully submit to you the truth of this morning’s scripture is that Jesus has met our every longing.    The greatest desires of our soul have already been met.   May we look within and find what we have always been looking for. May we know there is no condemnation for those in Christ, may we be centered upon the rock of Christ to find peace, and may we claim the holy power to transform the world.   May we seek to live according to the Spirit and may we have a mind governed by the Spirit.  May we be able to live and life abundantly a true life because his Spirit lives within us.


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