Romans 8. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 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.
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
Paul is clear. If you are a person who sets your mind on the flesh which is to set your mind on temporary worldly pleasure and passions then you are a person who lives according to the flesh. It works the other way as well. How do you know if you live according to the flesh? Well, you know if you live according to the flesh if you set your mind on temporary worldly pleasures. It works this way, and I’ll be honest, if I preach this accurately and faithfully, it will scare some of you to death.
Quite simply, walking in the flesh and setting your mind on the flesh is actively and wantonly sinning without care. That is not the life of the believer in Christ. Your life will look different than most everyone you know.
So, what are the things that God Himself uses to describe living according to the flesh? Paul tells us in Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Paul says that if that list describes you then evidently you don’t know the transforming work of Jesus. If you live consistently pursing sexual sin, sensuality whether it be food, drink, or sex, idolatry which is finding your value in anything other than Jesus, witchcraft, causing fights, jealousy, you get angry at the drop of the hat, you make rivals like you are back in High School, you like to cause division among people, you wish you had what everyone else has, you get drunk all the time.
They are people that pursue the flesh, live in the flesh, and have a mind set on the flesh. So you might ask, “What then should the life of a believer look like?” Look at verse 6.
6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
However, if your mind is set on the Spirit of God, you won’t live a life that leads to death. You will have life and peace.
What does a life that has its mind set on the Spirit look like practically?
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If you love people out of a desire to love not obligation, if you have real joy and happiness no matter the circumstance, if you have a peace or contentment in all things, if you are patient with people even if they annoy you or if they are different than you, if you are kind and gentle instead of being rough and brusque, if you do good instead of being evil and doing evil, if you are faithful to God and to the vows and commitments you make, if you practice self-control saying “no” to what God says “no” to and “yes” to what God says “yes” to.
If that list describes you, Paul would say that more than likely you are a person whose mind is set on the Spirit.
7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
This is one of the passages that shows the clear relationship between understanding life backwards and living it forward. Verse 9 says the deciding factor of evidence of being forgiven and transformed is whether or not you have the Spirit. If you have the Spirit of God in you then you belong to God. If you don’t have the Spirit, you don’t belong to God. The promise of the Spirit comes from Jesus Himself and reiterated in Acts 2:33 which says “(Jesus ) being exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing”
11 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.
Can you take this verse in? I mean, stop worrying about how hot it is in here and what you are going to eat for lunch and listen to the promise of this verse. The very Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, raised Jesus from the dead. That kind of power, the kind of power that can raise Jesus, God Himself from the dead, dwells in you by faith. That is the power of God in you that enables you to obey and exhibit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Do you see the life that God is calling you to? Is that the type of life that you want to live? The kind that gloriously and ever so gradually becomes more and more like beautiful Jesus Christ.? If you say yes, and if you don’t, I’m going to tell you, how do you live and cultivate this grace and power from the Holy Spirit? Charles Spurgeon, my favorite pastor, as always, provides a great answer. He said.
If you have received this grace, which has abounded over your sin, take care that you do more for grace than you ever did for sin. It is a wonder how much people will do for sin, what they will give, what they will spend, and what they will endure to gratify their passions. I should not like to guess what some men waste on their lusts; I should not like to make a calculation as to what some people spend in a year on what they call their pleasures. Well, whatever the amount is, shall they give more, shall they do more for their god than we give and do for ours? Then let us pluck up courage, and solidly assert the glories of our God and the wonders of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Especially, let us never be ashamed to say, “He loved me, and gave himself for me, and blessed be his holy name for ever and ever. Amen.”
Let’s pray that God would in this moment reinvigorate us to new confession of sin, new faith, new hope, new trust, new obedience, new evangelism, new mercy, all things new through the one who makes everything new, Jesus Christ.
Big Picture Question: How is life in Christ best understood backwards but lived forward?
Remember Who You Are
Remember What You are Call To
Remember Who You Belong To
(Remember the Power of the Spirit)
Truth: The Christian life is best understood by remembering that what Christ has done for you.
Application: Live knowing that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead gives life to your mortal body.
Action: Dwell on Christ. Thank the Father. Live by the Spirit.