“Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Paul cried (v. 24b). Here’s the answer, the incredible good news for us today: “Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (v. 25). He will say it again in Romans 8:1: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Why? “Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (v. 2).
When Jesus died for us, “he condemned sin in sinful man” (v. 3). His death killed the sin nature. He defeated sin and destroyed the reign of Satan. He broke the chains which enslaved us and won us total victory. Not just one day–this day. Not just when he returns–when his Spirit comes to live in each of us.
The same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead and defeated sin forever now lives in us. The same Spirit who enabled Jesus to live without sin in total victory now lives in us. The same Power who brought him victory has come to bring us victory. V-Day is now ours.
So, how is this victory to be ours?
First, receive the Holy Spirit. You do this when you ask Jesus to forgive your sins and become your Savior and Lord. We speak of Jesus “coming into our heart,” but it is actually his Spirit who enters us at salvation. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). When you received Christ, you received all of God there is.
Second, submit to the Holy Spirit. The Bible commands us to “quench not the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). The Spirit is a gentleman. He goes where he is wanted. He will not make you holy without your permission.
If you try to fight this battle in your strength, you cannot have his. He cannot drive the car unless you give him the wheel. He cannot remove the tumor unless you let him operate. He cannot fight this spiritual battle if you insist on using human weapons.
So “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Begin every day by surrendering that day the Lordship of the Holy Spirit. Pray through your plans, problems, and dreams for the day. Give them intentionally to his direction and control. Ask him to take charge of you yet again, and know that he will.
Psalm 91 begins, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust'” (vs. 1-2). A shelter is no good unless you’re inside it; a fortress is no help until you run behind its walls. If you will “rest in the shadow of the Almighty,” you will know his strength and help and hope.
Why do so many Christians live like the rest of the world? Because we’re trying to live with worldly power and human strength. Self sufficiency is the enemy of the power of God. Submit to the Spirit.
Third, live in the Holy Spirit. Jesus was plain: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). What does it mean to stay attached to the vine, to the Spirit of Jesus living in us?
We depend on him. The branch depends completely on the vine for its life and strength. We read the Bible and pray not to fulfill religious duties but to get the power we must have to go another day. The spiritual life is not an added elective for those who have time for religious hobbies–it is the fuel and food without which we die.
We rest in him. We trust that he is flowing and working through us. Nowhere does the Bible say how it feels to abide in Christ. We trust that when we are close to him, he is close to us. We trust his presence and power.
And we expect fruit to result in our lives. The “fruit of the Spirit” are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Each is the opposite of the sin which so plagues our lives. The branch doesn’t have to try harder to make more fruit–so long as it stays connected to the vine, its fruit is inevitable. Expect fruit when you are close to Jesus.
If you don’t see such fruit, don’t try harder to produce it. Instead, get right with God again.
If you struggle with loving someone who has hurt you, don’t try harder to forgive them–get back to Jesus. If you have lost your joy, don’t try to find it–find Jesus. If you’re not at peace, don’t try harder to feel peaceful–go to Jesus. If you struggle with patience as I do, don’t try to be more patient–get back to Jesus. If you battle self-control issues, don’t try harder to do better–take them to Jesus.
Depend on him, rest in him, and expect his character to show in yours.
And his victory is yours. It is actually possible to live today in total victory over Satan, temptation, and sin.
There is no sin you must commit. The Bible is clear: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Jesus has never lost a battle to Satan, and he never will. If you believe in D-Day but have not yet found V-Day, the fault is not his. You’re trying to win this battle in your strength, but you cannot. You may even have given up on total victory, believing that it is simply your lot in life to live with spiritual defeat and frustration. That’s a lie of the enemy. Jesus won total victory over total depravity. Now that victory can be yours.