Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:5-17
Paul here describes two types of people: those who follow the pull of selfish desires that come from their rebellious natures and those who live by the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. And in this passage we see three hugely important things.
- To live “according to the sinful nature” is to desire, take pleasure in, be occupied with and try to satisfy the corrupt desires of sinful human nature. Such living includes immoral behavior, selfish ambition, jealousy, hatred, drunkenness, outbursts of anger and any other attitudes or choices of behavior that do not please God. Things like obscenity, pornography, drug addiction, mental and emotional pleasure from sexual images in movies, plays, magazines, books and television have a powerful hold on countless people’s lives.
- To live “in accordance with the Spirit” is to pursue and submit to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and direction and to rely on his power to live as God desires. It means focusing one’s attention, thoughts, energies and values on God’s desires and purposes. This requires keeping a constant awareness of God’s presence and trusting him to provide the help and power needed to accomplish his will, which is his desires, plans and intentions based on his character and purposes.
- It is impossible to follow the sinful nature and the Holy Spirit at the same time. Those who resist the Spirit’s power and assistance and rely on their own ability are choosing to become God’s enemies. They can expect spiritual and eternal death. Those who make God’s desires and purposes their primary passion and concern can expect eternal life and companionship with God. Let me make one thing very clear: If you are saved, in other words if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you cannot lose that. What I am saying is: once saved always saved. What we told here is that those who have rejected God’s offer of salvation through his Son Jesus and who have chosen to live their lives their own way will suffer the consequences. However, those of us who have chosen to be followers of Christ can still chose to ignore God and the prompting of his Spirit, which simple means that we will not live out his purposes and his desires for our lives, but once again it does not mean that we have “lost our salvation.” So as followers of Christ let’s walk as if we joint heirs with Jesus by giving up our sinful desires and staying attuned to the desires of the Spirit.
Today’s Bible Readings:
2 Samuel 20:14-21:22, Acts 1, Psalms 121:1-8 and Proverbs 16:18
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