By the Spirit
Most of Christianity has fallen into the endless task of sin management. The apostle Paul has been leading us step by step to understand more fully our new identity in Jesus Christ. The more we understand our new identity, and the more we believe it to be true, under all circumstances, the more quickly we will begin to live out this new life. Many years ago I was in a church that reminded the believers on a regular basis they were all a bunch of no good sinners, saved by grace. Then one Sunday evening we had a special service to publically shame and call out a member who had sinned. It was more than I could take. The pastor was a personal friend and I asked him how he could be upset with the people for sinning when every week he told them they were no good sinners. Do you see how crazy it is? Jesus wasn’t primarily interested in sin management His mission was bringing people to life. We must know who God has made us to be in Christ so we can know what behaviors are suited to our new nature in Him.
Romans 8:12–13 “So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 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.”
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. “So then” is frequently translated “therefore,” and it always brings us to the place where we must ask why it’s there. It takes us back to the previous passage. So then, Paul is reminding us we are called to live out of the Spirit and not the flesh. Because we are a people of the Spirit we are no longer debtors of the flesh. We are no longer obligated to do whatever we might be tempted to think and do. We are certainly debtors, but not to the flesh. We are debtors to the gospel of grace – but never to the self-life. The enemy has lost his grip on us. We will certainly have desires and temptations but we aren’t obligated to fulfill every impulse.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, He is repeating a common theme. To live according to the flesh is to be ruled and controlled by sin. All those who live out of the flesh will experience death. The wages of sin is still death. The self-life makes grand promises but the fruit of the flesh is all centered in death. It can produce physical death, death in our relationships but always a death of the soul. So if there is death in your soul and your relationships it’s a sure indication you’re walking after the flesh and not the Spirit.
but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Here is the contrast of those who live out of the flesh and those who live out of the Spirit. It is a choice between life and death. His spirit is within us and we are to find life and to live out of it. As we yield to the indwelling Spirit we put to the deeds of the flesh to death. It isn’t a one-time event but a lifestyle. Our active yielding to the Spirit gives us a whole new relationship to the flesh, sin and temptation. The worst thing you can do is try to control or manage the flesh with the flesh. Life doesn’t come from managing the flesh but by living out of the Spirit. Sin should never be the object of our attention, the cross is! Live from the Spirit, in the knowledge of who Christ has made you to be, and watch sin lose its power over your life. Live in the Spirit and you will not be a slave to the flesh.
I hope you have an incredibly blessed week. I’m looking forward to seeing you on Sunday.
You are loved!