Real Christianity? - the Test
A Sermon on Romans 8:5-8
5For those who are in accord with the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are in accord with the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit …
5For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7Because the carnal mind is …
The metaphors for life and living abound in this sermon on Romans 8:5–8 titled “ Real Christianity – the Test.” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones piles together vivid illustrations of nourishment, abundance, movement, genuineness, warmth, and vigor. This is because the true “test” of Christianity is whether a person is genuinely “alive to God.” There is no such thing as a Christian who has not been “made alive” by God or has been born again by the Spirit. If there is only death, warns Dr. Lloyd-Jones, there is not true Christianity, no matter how moral a person may be. While on the outside someone may superimpose Christian morality onto their life, it is ultimately inauthentic and artificial. It is a lifeless duty and lacks the warmth and spontaneity of genuine Spirit-wrought change that always accompanies regeneration. This has practical implications, argues Dr. Lloyd-Jones. It will change one’s understanding of evangelism. It will also impact how they understand “backsliding” in the Christian life. Moreover, it changes how they evaluate the fruit of a Christian life. Listen as he combats a lifeless, mechanical Christianity with an authentic biblical Christianity that is full of life, joy, and authentic Christian service to the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The Christian is not merely a man who believes and remains where he was. He's a man who's been entirely changed. His whole position has been moved.
- The difference between the Christian and the non Christian is a radical one. It is a complete one. It isn't merely a matter of a slight difference.
- God has done something to the Christian that makes him altogether different from the man who is not a Christian.
- The Christian is in Christ. He has a new life, and this new life which he has is one in which he is dominated by and led by the Holy Spirit.
- The whole condition of the Christian is one which is entirely different from that of the non Christian.
- The Christian minds the things of the spirit. These are the things that interest him, move him, growse him and attract him, the things which he therefore pursues.
- The man who follows the mind of the flesh is dead in a state of spiritual death. But the men who goes after and is governed by the mind of the spirit has life and peace.
- For the mind of the spirit, he says, is life and is peace.
- The relationship between verse 5 and verse 6 is interesting and important. These two verses lead each one to the other. They have a kind of reciprocal relationship.
- What the apostle is telling us, essentially and primarily, is that the man who is a christian minds the things of the spirit because he is a man who's alive.
- That's the explanation of verse 5. But it is equally true to say this, that more and more, as one minds the things of the spirit, one has an ever increasing measure of life.
- To be spiritually minded or to have the mind of the spirit is life.
- Now here is the most important statement. To mind the things of the spirit, in other words, is a proof of the fact that we have life, spiritual life.
- We saw that the other man had no interest in spiritual things because he's dead. You preach to him, you get him to read the scriptures. It has no impression upon him. Why? Well, because he's dead.
- It is as if he wasn't there at all. He hears the same truth you remember as the other men. The other men glories in it. This man sees nothing in it, doesn't move him, doesn't affect him. Doesn't rouse him, doesn't please him. He is dead.
- But here, on the other hand, is the Christian, and he minds the things of the spirit and is interested in them. For this one reason he's alive.
- And life is something that always shows itself. Now the apostle started with the manifestation, he says, that, you see, is the result of life. It's produced by life.
- To be spiritually minded is life.
- The question which we have to consider is this, what does all this mean? What is the meaning of this term life as we find it in so many different places in that way.
- Life, according to the New Testament teaching, means something like this. The Christian is one, as I've been saying, who is no longer dead. Or if you like, we can say he is no longer dull. He is aware within himself of this ability to respond.
- Even when the Christian is at his very worst and lowest, there is always this evidence of life.
- It's because the child is alive, however young, how much an infant he may be, he desires the milk, and the fact that he desires the milk is a proof of life. It's no longer dead. There is life here.
- And this is a very important thing about the Christian. It's a very difficult thing to put into words, but it is a very real thing. Anyone who has been born again knows it, though perhaps he cannot put it very clearly.
- It is the difference, I say, between having something inside you and something outside you. There are many religious people who are not born again, yes, but their religion is outside them. They carry it in a bag, as it were. The Christian knows that the thing is inside him. It may be very weak and feeble, but it's there and he knows it.
- There is a liveliness and a life of which he was not conscious before. And this, of course, affects everything he does.
- The activities of the Christian are never superimposed, they're never added on.
- The Christian knows that the thing is inside him. It may be very weak and feeble, but it's there and he knows it. There is a liveliness and a life of which he was not conscious before. And this, of course, affects everything he does.
- The difference between the non Christian and the Christian is between the difference between a Christmas tree onto which you hang presents and a live tree that bears fruit. You put them on your Christmas tree, it doesn't produce anything. You put them on. But in the case of the tree, it produces the fruit. It's not any longer imposed from the outside. It's something that comes out of the life, the SAP and the power that is in that tree.
- What the Christian does is not merely a matter of duty. It is something that is a spontaneous expression of what he feels within.
- Now there is the deciding point, it seems to me, between the man who's trying to make himself a Christian and the man who is a Christian. The man who is not a Christian feels it's a right thing for him to do, to go to church and to read his scriptures and to pray and so on. It's a matter of duty and he has to force himself to do it.
- But when a man is alive, there is that spontaneity that you have in the child who desires that milk and who makes for it stretches out his hand for it because he wants it.
- Now, this is, of course, the most important point, this one. You remember how our Lord dealt with this in the sermon on the mount, for instance.
- You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles? Even so, every good tree bringeth forth good fruit. But a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. Neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
- Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits, ye shall know them. You see, the argument, that's what inside must come out, and if there isn't life there, it cannot come out. It's artificial, counterfeit, superimposed, added. It lacks this genuineness. That is always the indication of life.
- Indeed, our Lord was very concerned about this. He says the same thing again. You'll find it at the end of the 12th chapter of Matthew's gospel in verse 33. Listen, he says, either make the tree good and his fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt and his fruit corrupt, for the tree is known by his fruit.
- Then he puts it like this, o general of iteration of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. You see, it all comes from the inside. It's out of the heart.
- A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things. An evil men out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. It's everything coming out of the heart.
- And the characteristic of the ChrIstian is that all that he does comes in this way out of the heart.
- And therefore I go back to our Lord's statement to the woman of Samaria. It is like a fountain. The Christian's life is like a fountain, not like a trough, not like a system.
- You see, you look at a system and there's the water, and though you take out of it, it still seems fairly foolish, but it's coming in. You see it coming in and going out. That's a system. And how different a system is from a fountain bubbling up from some depths that nobody can understand, nobody can analyze it, nobody can find it. It's there. There is some inner power, some generating force, and it goes on bubbling up. Take out of it. Still it looks the same. On and on it goes. When your water supplies are cut off, this goes on fountain.
- You see, the element that the apostle is emphasizing, even as our lord was, is this element of spontaneity and of course, the element of warmth.
- Can't you tell? Don't you agree with me when I say that you can tell the difference between a man who is a Christian and a man who's trying to persuade himself that he is? Isn't there something about the whole attitude, the way in which it's done, the spontaneity, the warmth, the movement, the heart that's in it all? That's
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.