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Sermon #3145

A Call for Action

A Sermon on Romans 8:12-13


Romans 8:12-13 ESV KJV
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (ESV)

Sermon Description

What is sanctification? How is the Christian moved toward greater holiness and away from sin? In this sermon on Romans 8:12–13 titled “A Call for Action,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that Paul has been referencing the process of sanctification throughout the book of Romans but specifically addresses the theology of it in this passage. While Romans 7 is a battlefield for a Christian’s flesh and spirit, Romans 8 shows the victory that they have in Christ. While there is a war that wages in mortal bodies, God always provides a way for a Christian not to sin. A Christian is immediately released from the reign of sin by giving it over to Christ. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that it is a matter of their own actions and Christ does the rest. If they live by the flesh, they will die by the flesh. However, if they live by the Spirit, they are able to continually mortify their flesh and give it over to Christ. Paul is phrasing this using the present tense, meaning that this is a process where one must continually be active. Christians can rejoice that they are no longer under the obligation of the flesh and that Christ has given the Holy Spirit as their helper.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The apostle Paul is applying the doctrine he laid out in Romans 8:5-11.
  2. The word "therefore" indicates that Paul is making an application and exhortation based on what came before.
  3. This section is crucial for understanding Paul's teaching on sanctification.
  4. Up until now, Paul has not given any practical application of the doctrine. He has just described the Christian's position and character.
  5. Paul is now addressing how to wage the battle against sin in practice.
  6. Paul's teaching stands in contrast to two popular views of sanctification.
  7. The perfectionist view: Sin can be eradicated through a "second blessing" experience of being baptized in the Spirit.
  8. The "victorious life" view: Sin remains but can be overcome through surrendering to Christ and "abiding" in Him. Victory comes through a crisis moment.
  9. Paul is not calling for surrender or a new experience. He is making a logical argument based on what is already true of Christians.
  10. Paul calls Christians to ongoing action, not a single crisis moment. We must "mortify the deeds of the body" as a habitual practice.
  11. Paul argues that Christians are not "debtors to the flesh." We owe nothing to the sinful nature. Our obligation is to God.
  12. The key is understanding our identity in Christ - that we are alive in the Spirit, dead to sin, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
  13. Sanctification is the outworking of this truth, not a new experience. It is gradual, progressive, and continuous.

The Book of Romans

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.