Surrendering to the Spirit

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God…” —Romans 8:14

One of the truths that we understand from the first ten verses of Romans 8 is that the Christian life means that once we are saved, the general direction of our lives is toward godliness because we desire to draw nearer to God; our general direction in life is toward holiness because God is holy; our general direction in life a desire for righteousness to be worked out in our lives because of the justice-ness God has worked in us through Christ Jesus our Lord: “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17).

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Special Assistance for Pilgrims

“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” —Romans 8:5, 6

The Christian who walks after the Spirit is the general course of direction for one who is saved. This spiritual walk means a desire for holiness for Christ and righteousness in Christ because of the believer’s desire to please God. Does that mean we never sin? All the text we have read since Romans 6 would have been ridiculous in exhorting us to newness of life if salvation meant that all sin was eliminated from our lives when once we’ve been regenerated. These two doctrines, (1) absolute perfection; and (2) unrestrained, unrepentant sin in the Christian’s life, are both lies of the darkness of this age. How do we combat sin as we walk according to the Spirit? The answer to that is to walk in the Spirit, according to Galatians 5:16, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”

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Christian Reality in Christ

“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” —Romans 8:9, 10

“But ye are not in the flesh…” tells us that in contrast to what we have seen of those whose minds are set upon carnal things, and though we have a nature we were born with that is certainly flesh and full of fallen humanity (Romans 7:14), we are saved by God’s grace; He is growing us in grace by His grace, building us up in faith, and sanctifying us for His good pleasure. Since those who are “in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8), the apostle tells us that we actually do please God. How so?

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Carnality Offensive to Christ

“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” —Romans 8:6-8

In the first clause of Romans 8:6 we are told that “to be carnally minded is death;” that is, having the reason, understanding and affections set upon those natural things has no life in it whatsoever. Certainly, of those who are unsaved, who are only natural and have nothing of the Holy Spirit in them until the day they die, shall suffer eternal death and will be cast away from the favor of God forever. The second clause of Romans 8:6 gives the stark contrast to death: life and peace.

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Which Way to Walk

“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” —Romans 8:5

Carnality, that is, living a life that is generally characterized by habitual sin, is offensive to Christ; and why wouldn’t it be? Last week, we saw specifically in Romans 8:3 how that Jesus, in His own body, endured the Cross, suffering God’s wrath for our sins to redeem us from our sins. He died that we might have life; are we then to look at sin lightly? Are we to casually wink at sin when such a sacrifice of infinite worth and eternal value was offered on my behalf, on your behalf? Certainly not.

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Walking After the Spirit

There is also a term in Galatians 5:16 that says, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” This, walk in the Spirit is different from our walk according to the Spirit. The phrase in that Galatians 5:16 is not a description of our general condition as believers, but instead, a direct command to believers in overcoming situations and particulars we face in our walk according to the Spirit.

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