The NASB entitles, chapter eight, Life in the Spirit.
I have come to realize that whether we meet up with religious expectations or not, we are, and will be alive in the Spirit.
This idea of life makes more sense to those who are followers of Christ, who long to be more knowledgeable in their understanding of Scripture. You would have to go back to Adam to understand that death, the opposite of spiritual life, meant many things. The primary and most notable aspect of death came in the form of being cut off from the intimacy of a deep and open relationship with God. Jesus also experienced this on the cross. We saw it when He cried out, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Had the Father forsaken His Son?
Hardly. The plan was necessary but painful. It was one in which, Jesus had to pay the full price for Adam’s transgression – An act in which the ownership of the planet was handed over to Satan; and, thereby restore the Father’s relationship with humanity, and set the world right again, without a deceiver to influence ever again.
If you understand that your spirit never dies, then you can surmise that it is only the relationship that dies. You should also grasp that you live eternally with the Father, or you follow your leader Satan, to his demise, and live forever in his torment, permanently cut off from God. Fairly straightforward.
The Law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body, God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4 NLT)
So, having done all that, we no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. Well, that’s what it says, and so it must be true, right?
But didn’t Paul talk about this in Romans chapter seven?
But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. (Romans 7:16-19 NASB)
To hear Paul say it makes me feel hopeless, but we are not because he finished this out by saying there is hope and that hope has everything to do with Christ Jesus and His work on that cross.
And with that, we begin looking at Romans 8:5 and beyond.
Romans 8:5 NASB For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
Immediately I see two categories of people:
- Those who have their minds set on the flesh.
- And those who are according to the Spirit.
The people who are according to the Spirit, have their minds set on the things of the Spirit.
Set is the Greek word phroneōand means to exercise the mind, that is, entertain or have a sentiment or opinion; by implication to be (mentally) disposed (more or less earnestly in a certain direction.)
My soul longs to teach the Word of God; that’s how much I am inclined to pursue the Lord. How can you be a teacher unless you follow understanding?
However, I don’t see myself as someone who is set, for staying in the Word has become a way of life to me, and when I am not involved in prepping for a study or writing a post, I feel a strange sense of loss. I question whether those moments of discontent are the years of legalism in my head or only my annoyance with this useless world.
My Pastor recently told the Church, with the hope of getting the audience on board with his decision, that he was going to fast commercials on the television (Fasting is meant to set aside personal time and pleasures, like eating, so that you draw closer to God. When it comes to fasting commercials on the television, how do you do that without fancy equipment like a “Tivo?” – I don’t think they still exist. The Tivo unit allowed you to bypass the commercials, among other things. I don’t have that kind of equipment, but I suppose I could shut the sound off, but then there are the images.
Why fast commercials?
Because it is a known fact that commercials are designed to control your thoughts and perceptions of life, some of my family members are prime examples of this, as they must wear the latest name brand product, or, they will call and say, you have to try this newest product. Most of the time, it isn’t any better than the last thing, and often it’s worse. Commercials are trying to conform you to somebody’s idea of what the world should be drinking, driving, or wearing.
Romans 12:2 NASB And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
1 John 2:15-17 NASB Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (16) For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world. (17) The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
But the mind, set on the Spirit is life and peace.
Romans 8:6 NASB “For the mind, set on the flesh is death, but the mind, set on the Spirit is life and peace,”
If a commercial, which makes you focus your attention on the lusts of the flesh, a thing of death, then it too must represent death, because it certainly has your mind, set on fleshly things.
Doesn’t this word death demand an explanation? Sure it does, because I have been focusing my attention on commercials my entire life. And yet, I don’t seem to be dead. This terminology of death is so similar to what we saw God say to Adam.
“but about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, ‘You are neither to eat from it nor touch it, or you will die.’” Genesis 3:3 CJB
Although physical death began that very moment, it could not be seen. At the same time, another aspect of death that could not be seen was the separation of their soul’s relationship with God. This spiritual death evidences itself most in the brokenness of the relationship between the human and the Father (God.) So the mind, set on the passions of the flesh, dies on the inside. It is inevitable, as you forget what it is to have God’s life and peace in you.
In opposition to death, there is life.
“but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” (Romans 8:5b. TNIV)
I suppose the question here is, what do you have your spirit set on?
“The mind, controlled by the sinful nature, is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6 TNIV)
- The word set, or controlled as the TNIV puts it, is the Greek word phronēma and means: to have a (mental) inclination or purpose.
- The word inclination, according to Webster’s dictionary, means A leaning of the mind or will, propension or propensity, a disposition more favorable to one thing than to another.
So, having my mind controlled by the sinful nature of my flesh, started with my leaning toward one thing more than the other. That other was God. The end result is death or the advanced deterioration of my relationship with the Father.
Romans 8:7 MSG, “Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing.”
Dr. J. Vernon McGee states: “This verse reveals how hopelessly incorrigible and utterly destitute the flesh really is. It is a spiritual anarchist. This demolishes any theory that there is a divine spark in man and that somehow he has a secret bent toward God. The truth is that man is the enemy of God. He is not only dead in trespasses and sins but active in rebellion against God. Man will even become religious in order to stay away from the living and true God and the person of Jesus Christ.”
When you study the chain of events that led up to the flood, you see one central theme, that every thought of man was only evil, and the world was filled with violence. A statement like this would back up Dr. McGee’s assertions. But, are we entirely hopeless? I don’t want to think so, because there was a thread of hope that ran through Adam to Noah. (An explanation for humanities fall in this circumstance is there in Genesis chapter six. Many cannot see it, and most refuse to see it. It requires more than a simplistic reading of the chapter.) Perhaps, if we could remove all the influences that remove us from God, then maybe we could live in an open, vibrant, and honest relationship with the Father, but how would you make that happen?
Romans 8:8 NASB, “and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
When Paul wrote, what a wretched man I am, I feel confident that he meant it. However, there is hope; there is always hope. Surrounded and inundated by the pulls of the flesh, what am I to do?
Romans 8:9 NASB, However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
Consider what this is saying to us.
- You are not in the flesh – if the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Early in this letter to the Romans, Paul said, “and you are dead to sin if you have been baptized into His death.”
What’s the rule associated with dead people?
They are no longer capable of sinning, or, as Romans 8 tells us, pleasing the flesh. Yet we dead folk still sin? Quite a dilemma if you don’t have Christ. Consider that with Christ, we are held righteous in God’s eyes. Now that may be another story with people, especially religious people, but as followers of Christ: 1. We are not indulging, repeatedly, and wantonly in sin. 2. We keep focused on the truth that we are buried in Him, that our life is in Him, and we have the Spirit of life in us and belong to God.
Romans 8:9 appears to have an addendum.
- “But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”
How would we know that someone did not have the Spirit of Christ in them?
An obvious answer might be to look at their fruit, but I have known people who appear to be in Christ, simply because they go through the motions at church, and yet I am not sure what their fruit is or resembles. While others, who have also gone through all the motions, but their fruit is rotten on their branches. The bottom line for me, I am going to let God sort this out at the end.
Under the umbrella of, there is always hope, we have this.
Romans 8:10 NASB, If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
How can the body be dead and still have functionality here on earth? It can’t, so death then must be thought of as spiritual, and expresses itself in a variety of ways. And yet, here is that hope once again, the spirit is still alive because of righteousness. Righteousness is right standing with God, nothing more and nothing less.
Webster’s dictionary defines righteousness like this: “Purity of heart and rectitude of life; conformity of heart and life to the divine law. Righteousness, as used in Scripture and theology, in which it is chiefly used, is nearly equivalent to holiness, comprehending holy principles and affections of heart, and conformity of life to the divine law. It includes all we call justice, honesty, and virtue, with holy affections.”
That right standing that Paul speaks of is only contingent upon one thing, our faith in Jesus Christ and the price He paid; that’s it, and this faith gives us our life in the Father. All this freedom and hope sounds too good to be true. And yet there is more.
Romans 8:11 NASB But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
- If, the same Spirit The qualifying action is faith and acceptance.
- of Him who raised Jesus from the dead, He who raised Jesus from the dead is God the Father.
- dwell in you, Paul said, if you were baptized into Him, then He now resides in you.
- (Then) He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead Again, we are talking about God the Father.
- will also give life to your mortal bodies. God will give life to your human body. Now wait a minute, this makes sense if I am dead, as He will, I assume, breath life back into my body. I am not sure I understand why He couldn’t just as easily make me another. But what if Jesus comes back to catch us away and I am alive, what happens then? Apparently, we are not as alive as we thought we were.
- through His Spirit who dwells in you. All this life and the restoration of life happens because of the life that dwells in us. We just went over who this is that resides within you? Jesus Christ, however, here on earth, it is the Holy Spirit, who is just as much God as the Son, dwelling in us. The Holy Spirit of God is our life here on earth.
Well, that same Spirit does dwell in me; so then, He will also give this life to my mortal body, through that same Spirit.
It is irrelevant, but why do I need this body?
I don’t know, but God seems to have a purpose since He made it with all these sensory organs, that like to eat fruit and other things. Perhaps this all plays into our eternity with Him, as Jesus, in His physical return, made a fire, cooked some fish, and ate with the men. He had that “new” body, one that doesn’t need to eat anymore; then maybe we can assume that He ate for the pure pleasure of it.
If you don’t know my Jesus, you can. Simply ask to bring this life back into yours and chase Him as though your life depended upon it.