Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you (Rom 8:11)

Sometimes you have no idea what resources are at your disposal.

When my brother and I were growing up we were involved in a alternative boy scout program at our church called CYC. There were pins and badges and sashes and everything. If you acquired all the badges over the course of six years, you received the highest award. As a sixth grader, my brother was the first merit this award at my local church. It was kind of a big deal.

After the award ceremony, our dad took my brother to the department store Hills and said, "Anything you want, I'll get it for you." My brother selected a tape case (this was the 80's) that could carry over 30 tapes. It was the coolest and biggest thing he could think of.

Many years later we were reminiscing about this story, when my dad revealed this unknown fact: that night he had eight crisp one hundred dollar bills in his pocket. He was ready to buy my brother a brand new bike or a high end stereo system. Of course, my brother was happy with his tape case. But he had no idea what resources were at his disposal.

In Romans 8, Paul speaks of the power of the Spirit by which we live lives of freedom from sin in Jesus Christ. But we rightfully have a little suspicion that all this talk of the Holy Spirit's power in the life of the Christian might simply be a motivating hypothetical or, worse yet, just wishful thinking. I mean, do we really see the Spirit overcoming the flesh in the way described? Does the Spirit really have this kind of power?

There is a lot to this problem and lot going on in this text. But I would like to highlight one particular aspect of the Spirit that may affect our attitude to this promised power. You see, Romans 8 is not only speaking in the general terms of a cosmic struggle between flesh and spirit (although that's an element in the passage). Romans 8 identifies this Spirit by a particular event in God's history with us. The Holy Spirit is not just any spirit, but the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead (Rom 8:11). God raised Jesus by the power of his Spirit. The Father is the one who brings his Son back from the dead. The Son is the firstborn from the dead. The Spirit is the means by which the Father raises his Son. He is the tie that binds them together even in the face of death. He is their love which is stronger than death. He is God's resurrection power.

It is this Spirit that dwells within those who are in Christ. The Spirit by which the dead are raised lives in us! Perhaps his power is held at bay. Perhaps he is waiting for better time. Perhaps his work is hidden. But whatever we say, we must at least proclaim that the Spirit does not lack the power to overcome sin and death. For if there is anything we know about the Holy Spirit, it is his unprecedented power over the greatest of human enemies. Perhaps we have settled for less than what God has offered. Perhaps the time is now. Perhaps his resurrection power may be manifested even in this time between the times.

Sometimes you have no idea what resources are at your disposal.

Any thoughts?
Do you also see the interconnection between resurrection and the Spirit in Romans 8?
How else does this play out in the remainder of the chapter?
What does it look like for the Spirit of the resurrection to dwell in us?
How does the resurrection help to illumine the relationship between Christ and the Spirit?


Anonymous said...


What an awesome illustration of the potential power of the Spirit. I'd like to borrow it for my Pentecost sermon later this month.

The resurrection directly relates to the Spirit and the power to live in victory. Verse 12 states clearly that due to having this enpowering Spirit, we do not have an obligation to sin. If we do sin, it is choosing the lesser thing. We didn't have to sin in word, thought or deed.

By the way, thanks for your bog. It is a real source for my own formation.

Chris Shinn

Keith Drury said...

A powerful column full of the optimism of grace. Our Holy Spirit is too small.

David Drury said...

I agree with Chris... your blog is not just an "extra" in my life... it's spiritually forming. With all the cotton candy I seem to take in it's nice to have some "meat" on Thursdays that you carve up for us.

I love that story and since I was part of it I also tell it--a very appropo illustration of God owning the cattle on a thousand hills.


Anonymous said...

Can you feel this Spirit!!!