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The Spirit of Freedom

The first featured article in the Fall 2021 issue of the PR Theological Journal carries the above title and is the text of a speech Rev. Steven Key gave at an officebearers' conference in Crete, IL in September of 2021. In his article Rev. Key explains the Reformed doctrine of sanctification from the viewpoint of work of the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, especially as that is set forth in Romans 8.

In this post, we take a small portion from his exposition, encouraging you to delve into it fully. You will find much spiritual nourishment for your soul here.

"The author of this life is the Spirit. That life is in Christ Jesus. Spiritual life, everlasting life, is only in Christ. That is why we must maintain a Christ-centered focus in our preaching, even when it comes to preaching the law and all the exhortations of the Word of God. A proper view of living the Christian life cannot be separated from Christ. But the emphasis in Romans 8 is on the Holy Spirit as the one who alone unites us to Christ. The Holy Spirit is sent by God into our hearts (Gal. 4:6), and unites us to Christ our Head in regeneration, establishes the bond of faith that is the gift of God. The Spirit of Christ works in us the knowledge of faith by which we know that we are in Christ Jesus. The Spirit applies to us all the benefits of the life that is in Christ Jesus, and so works in us both to will and to do God’s good pleasure (Phil. 2:12-13). By the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus we live! The Spirit, therefore, is the one who liberates us from sin and death, changing the direction of our thoughts, our desires, our hopes, and our outward deeds.

"Remember that to be in bondage to the law of sin and death is to be dead in trespasses and sins. A man in bondage might be committed to reforming himself for his own sake. For example, a man in the bondage of prison serving time for a series of criminal acts might come to the realization that his life is being wasted behind the walls of prison. He might be committed to changing his behavior when he gets out. But he is still in prison. And when a man is a slave to sin and death, he cannot free himself. Such slavery, after all, is not merely physical slavery. It is spiritual bondage! Only the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus can give such freedom. Such is the wonder enabling us to confess, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”

"That truth is especially drawn out by the inspired apostle in Romans 8:9-11, where he impresses on us the intimacy of the Spirit who dwells with the Father and the Son now dwelling in us. The Spirit’s presence and power is manifest in us. The Spirit of Christ dwells in us unchangeably. He has taken up His residence in us in such a way that we are identified by His dwelling in us, and no longer by the depravity of our sinful natures: “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. . . . But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you” (vv. 8-9). His identity establishes the sovereignty of His work in us. He is not dependent upon us. He is not an intruder in the house, who forces His will and way upon us. He owns us! He sovereignly works in us both to will and to do. That is what it means to be in Christ Jesus and to be partaker of His life by the Spirit. That is our freedom too. Our freedom is to live as those who are in Christ Jesus, and therefore as those in whom the Holy Spirit dwells. We can now say with Galatians 2:20, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” There is nothing like the freedom of having life in Christ Jesus!"

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