The Gift that Renews Hope: “The Justified Life”

Passage: Romans 8:1-4
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection

Sermon Summary

We’re living in a time of intense tribalism, where it seems like the forces pulling us apart are greater than the forces keeping us together. Christianity, however, offers a resource for a divided world, because it provides us with a shared “center”—which is the gift of God’s grace for the underserving, given to us in Christ. Romans 8 explores the beauty of this gift and the life it creates.

First, Paul explains that the gift of Christ is a gift of righteousness, graciously given for our justification, so that we who are sinners could be declared righteous, on account of Christ’s death and resurrection in our place. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1)! Unlike gift-gifting in the ancient times, this gift of Christ, and the justification it brings, is a gift given with no respect whatsoever for our worthiness or pedigree—indeed, it is what creates worth in us. It is therefore a gift that tears down the walls of division and status among us, and also “set us free” (8:2) because we no longer live under the heaven burden of needing to strive for validation or acceptance in life.

Christ not only gave himself for us—in order that we might be rescued—but he also gave himself into us, through the Holy Spirit, in order that he might draw near to us in an enduring relationship. This relationship makes our lives beautiful, as the Holy Spirit changes us from the inside out, changing us into the type of people that the law had in mind all along, as we walk with him day by day—such that “the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Praise God that he loves us enough to justify us by the gift of his Son and transform us by the gift of his Spirit! May we center all of our lives, individually and together, around this gift.

Sermon Outline

  • Christ is Given For Us in Justification (8:1-3)
  • Christ is Given Into Us Through The Spirit (8:4)

Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide

Re-read the passage (Romans 8:1-4)

Christ is Given For Us in Justification (8:1-3)

Q) Read and meditate on each aspect of Romans 8:1 together: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. Specifically, what is the significance of the word(s):

  • “Now”
  • “No condemnation”
  • “Those who are in Christ Jesus”

Q) Re-read verses 2-3. What is it that “God has done”, that “the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do”?

Q) Pastor Bobby described how God’s gift of Jesus for our righteousness is a gift given in complete disregard of any “worthiness” in its recipients. How is this truth, that God gives his grace to unworthy people, different than many people’s conceptions of what Christianity teaches?

Q) How might the truth that God gives his grace to undeserving people help unify a church? How might it help foster greater unity in a community? How might it compel Christians to work for justice?

Q) Even though we have been “declared righteous” as Christians, we still have a tendency to look for our sense of acceptance, worth, or approval in other things. Who or what have you looked to, outside of Christ, for approval and worth? What are some of the affects this has on your life?

Q) What do you think would be some characteristics of a whole church that rested deeply in Christ for its justification and approval, rather than in its own merits? What would be some characteristics of a church that leaned on its own merits for a sense of approval?

Q) What is one concrete step you can take this winter to more regularly refresh yourself with the truth of God’s justification for you in Christ?

Christ is Given Into Us Through The Spirit (8:4)

Q) Re-read verse 4. What does it mean that those who walk according to the Holy Spirit “have the righteous requirement of the law fulfilled in them”?

Q) Pastor Bobby reminded us that God doesn’t just want to declare us righteous, he also wants to come and make his home with us. What does the fact that God wants to dwell with us tell us about:

  • The character of God
  • The nature of the Christian life
  • The nature of Christian growth (sanctification)

Q) What does it mean to “walk according to the flesh”, and what are some signs that you’re doing this? What does it mean to “walk according to the Spirit”, and what are some signs that you’re doing this?

Q) CASE STUDY: You’re talking to a friend, who describes to you their bewilderment that, in their view, so many professing Christians seem to fall victim to conspiracy theories—political or otherwise. How would this week’s passage and sermon inform the way you might have a conversation with them about this?

Additional Application Questions

Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?

Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?

Prayer

Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.

X