The Life of the Spirit
We’re born in bondage to sin and death. We naturally consider what tickles our fancy a friend. We live like God is our enemy. Paul tells us that’s exactly wrong. He describes it as a battle between our flesh and the Holy Spirit.
The flesh is our tendency to seek our own pleasure in everything we do. We serve ourselves instead of God. The flesh pollutes what we think, feel, and do. We view life through “Me” colored glasses. It’s as natural as breathing. We don’t realize the folly of me-centered mutiny in a God-centered universe.
“The mind governed by the flesh is death” (Romans 8:6, NIV). Those who live according to the flesh are separated from God. They’re spiritually dead. They hate God and others (Galatians 5:20).
The flesh knows God’s will but refuses to do it. Have you ever said, “No one is going to tell me what to do!” Welcome to a not very exclusive club!
The flesh doesn’t submit to God’s law. It can’t. An accident changed Brian Sternberg from the best pole vaulter in the world to paralysis from the neck down. Likewise, the flesh can’t respond positively to God’s law. Do you know why many professing Christians don’t progress very far in the Christian life? They try to force the flesh to obey God. That’s the wretched story of Romans 7.
The self-controlled life can’t please God. It minds its own business. It hates God. It rebels against Him. It can’t obey Him. It’s no wonder many who are trying to live the Christian life by their own strength and resources are terribly frustrated. There’s a better way!
There’s no condemnation for those who are united with Jesus by faith (verse 1). They’re part of “a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:27, NIV). Through Christ’s death, the death sentence was passed and executed on our flesh in His flesh. That purchases our blameless position before God. But there’s more. The Spirit frees us from the bondage of the self-life (verse 2). He releases us from a meaningless, aimless, fruitless existence to a life that’s purposeful, bubbling over, fruitful, and fulfilling.
The works of the flesh pulsate with conflict with God and others (Galatians 5:19-21). By contrast, the Holy Spirit leads us to life and peace. He marks us as God’s possession (verse 9). Here’s the bottom line. No compromise is possible between the flesh and the Spirit. Those who are in the Spirit live for God. Those who are in the flesh live for themselves.
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