Flesh vs. Spirit – Romans 8:5-14

Living According To The Flesh Leads To Death

5 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. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

9 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. 10 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. 11 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.

12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation-but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 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.

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Fleshly Failure

Carnal Christianity is a danger that faces the every disciple of Christ.  The world, the flesh, and the devil try to draw us away from the Spirit of God through the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.  In the United States, the blessing of God has provided a petri dish where it is easy to focus on the pleasures of the flesh.  Financial prosperity clouds the judgment, and can provide an environment where people can forget that it is God that provides.  Culture seeks to please the flesh, rather than the Spirit, and leads people into every manner of evil.  Moral Relativism, self-actualization, Secular Humanism, the media, the entertainment industry, and advertisements all seek to draw people away from reliance upon God to reliance upon self, or the goods and services that are for sale.

Spiritual Specialization

Disciples of Christ are called instead to submit to the Spirit of God.  This is how we know that we are in Christ.  For the flesh desires what the flesh wants, and what our spirit wants is contrary to the flesh.  The Holy Spirit of God woos us through the word of God, gentle prodding and encouragement.

Yielding to the Spirit gives life.  Even though the flesh is subject to death because of the curse through the disobedience of Adam, the Spirit gives life, and life abundantly through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Though the flesh may fail, the Spirit gives us life.  The Spirit can do this because of righteousness.  God is holy, and cannot abide rebellion to righteousness.  When we submit to the Holy Spirit, He conforms our desires to pursue righteousness instead of that opposes that which is righteous.

Careful Commitment

If a person claims to be:

  • A child of God
  • Saved
  • A Christian
  • A disciple of Christ

then they have an obligation to submit to the Spirit so that they will grow and draw close to righteousness, for the image-bearers of God should not be bearing the image of any other.  Salvation is not fire-insurance; it is the opportunity to be reconciled to a holy and righteous God.

Just as a criminal who claims to be reformed should act reformed, so should we as redeemed sinners.  What good does it do a criminal who has been freed to go back to the same life that they lived before?  Their actions will certainly catch up to them, and they will face judgment again for what they have done.  In the same way, disciples of Christ have an obligation to allow the Spirit of God to conform us to the life that lives in harmony with God.

The signature evidence that a disciple of Christ is a true child of God is that their life gives evidence that they are being led by the Spirit of God.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s as a question: Am I being led by the Spirit of God?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for the opportunity to draw close to You.  Thank You for giving me Your Holy Spirit to lead me, teach me, guide me, encourage me, convict me, pray for me, and advocate for me.  Father, help me to walk in righteousness before You.  The temptations of this world are strong, and I pray for the strength to resist their pulls on my life, and the wisdom to recognize that which will cause me harm.  You have provided the things on Earth for our pleasure, but to be enjoyed, not worshiped or pursued.  Help my heart to also pursue You first.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training With God – 2 Timothy 2:3-6

Be Engaged In The Work Entrusted To You

3 Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.

Equally Engaged

No one is above their master.  Jesus suffered at the hands of the very people that he was trying to bring the message of salvation – God’s people!  We have been charged with spreading the Good News to every nation and people.  We are going to experience the same resistance and, in some cases, the same persecution that He experienced.

No matter how many times we hear this, we need to hear it again and again.  God had directed the Israelites to build monuments of stone in certain places to remind them of what He had done for them.  When children would ask what the monuments were for, the parents were to explain it to their children.  It was also there so that the parents wouldn’t forget what God had done for them either.

Imagine being led by a pillar of smoke by day, and a pillar of fire by night FOR FORTY YEARS.  Imagine walking in the desert in circles FOR FORTY YEARS and your clothing and shoes NEVER WORE OUT.  Imagine gathering manna every day FOR FORTY YEARS in the desert where God provided all the food, shelter, and water that you needed.  And now imagine that the same people who witnessed this amazing power of God FOR FORTY YEARS so quickly forget His wonderful provision to them.

It would appear that we have the memory equivalent to that of gnats.

Committed to the Commander

In the same way that a soldier is committed to his commanding officer, we are to be committed to our commanding officer – Jesus Christ!  This requires discipline and the ability to do what our commander says.  To the extent that we listen to our Commander-In-Chief will be to the extent that we are successful in completing the missions that we are assigned.

And just like in the military, promotions and better assignments come to those who are obedient in their callings.  The committed military person doesn’t get involved in civilian matters, because they are dedicated to military matters.  In the same way, those who are Christ’s don’t pursue the pleasures and desires of this world, but instead pursue the instructions of Christ.  And like military members, we can be called at a moment’s notice to serve in whatever capacity that Christ desires us to serve – whether temporarily or permanently, often relocating our family to our deployment site.

Don’t Disqualify

Just as in the world of sports, we are not to cheat our way to success.  Jesus was given the opportunity by Satan to have what He was competing by submitting to Satan.  This would have been cheating.  God had rules in place that Jesus needed to follow in order to accomplish the goal that was set before Him in order to achieve complete success.

Moses learned this the hard way when he was faced with an obstinate and forgetful people.  God was trying to reveal Himself in a greater way to Moses when He asked him to speak to the rock to bring forth water.  This was far different from the previous method of striking the rock with his staff.  When Moses, in a fit of anger, disobeyed the revealed will of God by striking the rock twice with his staff, he forfeited his life early, and was not able to see the people that he had shepherded for forty years enter into the promised land.  Keep in mind that Moses appeared with Elijah on the mount of transfiguration with Jesus.  Nonetheless, ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES.  Disobedience is not looked upon very kindly by God.  There is always a penalty for disobedience.

It is only by obeying the rules that we win the race.  Jesus said that many will come to Him saying, “Lord, Lord”, but He will turn them away because of disobedience:

  21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!‘”

When tempted to go around what appears to be obstacles by doing what is specifically delineated as wrong in order to avoid pain, suffering, or a perceived delay in timing, remember that Jesus didn’t take the easy road.  And by doing so, He won the keys to Death and Hell for us.  It took a long time, effort, and pain.  Jesus willingly submitted Himself to all of this and more for us.  Should we not do the same for Him?

Receive the Reward

Paul planted, Apollos watered, and God gave the increase.  The use of agrarian principles to illustrate spiritual truths was widespread because the people at that time would have fully understood the implications of what was being said.  They lived it each and every day.  The farmer should receive the reward for his effort.  Paul was planting and watering the seeds of Godliness in Timothy as well as his grandmother and mother.  Paul had laid his hands upon Timothy, apparently with other elders, and God has provided Timothy with his spiritual gifting.  Timothy was to teach others.  Their spiritual growth and resulting efforts would be reflected back upon Timothy as he sowed and watered their seeds.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question: When engaged in my work, am I following the rules?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I thank You for Your love, patience, and persistence with me as I try to obey You and do Your will.  Thank You for Your many mercies that renew every morning.  Thank You for showing me the Truth, and giving me the opportunity to do Your will.  Thank You for freeing me from the bondage of sin, and giving me the freedom to follow and obey You.  Thank You for revealing Your Son to me.  Help me to do all that You have instructed me to do, in the way that I should do it, so that it would honor and glorify Your name.  This I ask in the name of Your Precious Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?