by J. Gerald Harris

Who Is a Christian?
Dr. J. Gerald Harris
Romans 8:8-11

Paul really gets down to basics in this passage of Scripture. He doesn't soft-pedal the issue. There is no molly coddling! There is no soft-soaping! He cuts to the chase. He gets to the bottom line! He says, "You want to know who is a Christian." I'll tell you "Who is a Christian." A Christian is a person who has "the Spirit of Christ."

In other words, there is no ground for the doctrine of the "carnal Christian" here. Notice the apostle's ruthless logic: (1) if you do not have the Spirit of Christ, you do not belong to Christ; (2) if you belong to Christ, you have the Spirit of Christ; and (3) if you have the Spirit of Christ, you will not be controlled by the sinful nature, but by the Spirit. In other words, if you belong to Jesus, you will live like it. If you do not live like it, you do not belong to Him, regardless of your outward profession.

There are 3 points to the outline. Paul talks about the Christian's Past in verses 8-9. The Christian's Present is discussed in verse 10. The Christian's Future is discussed in verse 11.

When we look to the past, which is what the apostle does first, we see that as Christians we have been lifted out of our former sinful or fleshly state and into the realm of the Spirit.

This is an absolutely critical thing, for it means that being a Christian is not merely a matter of adopting a particular set of theological beliefs. It involves a change of state, of heart, of life, which is accomplished, not by us, but by God who saves us.

But the Christian's Past involved living in the realm of the flesh. Our text says, "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." You see, the person who constantly lives in the flesh, the person who is dominated by the flesh, the person who lives in continual sin knows nothing of the Spirit of God abiding in his life. I John 3:9 says, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin (as a usu ...

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