In our previous blog, we addressed the topic of the duality of human nature.
In Romans chapter seven, the Apostle Paul stared across the gulf that separates the perfection that God demands and the imperfection that dwells within ourselves.
Are we doomed?
No way! In chapter eight, we can move over to the point of God’s abundance of Grace towards us who are His Children through Jesus Christ.
1 THEREFORE, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death.
Romans 8:1-2 (Amplified Bible)
We are no longer bound like a dog chained to a tree (as T-Bone would say) to the prison of sin. Yes, sin is present and is something that we continue to contend with... but we are not sitting on the death row of condemnation. Of course, the caveat is that we walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. As we quoted Pastor Lon Solomon, the Christian life is not something that any human being can live. We have to yield to the Holy Spirit (for He has the right of way) and allow Him to walk out the Christian life through us.
If I were to try to live the Christian life... I might find myself bound to certain rules and regulations that have about as much spiritual nutrition as a bag of chips and a diet soda has physical nutrition. Religion does not change us... at least, not in the ways that count. However, a relationship (with our Heavenly Father through Christ Jesus) does change us.
3 For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice],
Romans 8:3 (Amplified Bible)
The Law was a nice attempt... but ultimately was insufficient. I know many Jews who eat pork, miss Sabbath, and may only keep the most important of the high holy days. Not to pick on them, but they are living examples of the weakness of the law. Wearing certain clothes and having a specific diet does not sanctify. One former pastor used to tell us that abstaining from alcohol (alone) will only allow you to go to hell sober. We don’t need rules and regulations... we need the power of the Son of God through His Spirit operating in our lives. As His will is walked out through us, we can achieve more (for His glory) than the rules and regulations ever could.
4 So that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fully met in us who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit [our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the Holy Spirit].
Romans 8:4 (Amplified Bible)
Again, the important thing is to follow the Spirit and not the flesh. When anger flares up, forgiveness extinguishes it. When pride flares up, humility extinguishes it. When lust flares up, love extinguishes it. You get the picture?
5 For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit.
Romans 8:5 (Amplified Bible)
Kenneth Copeland spoke about a woman who had bills to pay and children to raise... so she figured she needed a man. Then, he spoke about a man who was single and his lust was getting out of control... so he figured he needed a wife. They both prayed... but their prayers were vain. The woman wanted to make a man into her god... when the Lord God (Jehovah Jireh) should be her provider. The man wanted to satisfy his physical desires... when the Lord God calls a man to love his wife as Christ loves the church and gave Himself a sacrifice for us.
That couple got married... the man practically wore the woman out and then wanted to leave her because he felt all she wanted him for was his money. Both were on the wrong track. If the woman believed God to be a Proverbs 31 wife... and the man believed God to be an Ephesians 5:25-27 husband... and both put Christ in the center of their relationship, then you have something a whole lot better than what they had originally bargained for.
6 Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever]. 7 [That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God's Law; indeed it cannot.
Romans 8:6-7 (Amplified Bible)
If you listen to atheists or other such people, their thoughts are so incredibly hostile toward God.
There was the instance of a man who went before a judge to obtain a lawsuit because he found it offensive that President Obama wanted to have prayer at his inauguration. I mean... hello? When did prayer become offensive?
Homosexuals and lesbians can parade down the street... strip their clothing off... and perform public lewdness. But praying to the God who created us is offensive? Lord have mercy on this rebellious people!
But even those who want to serve God cannot with the mind of the flesh. Look at the Scribes and Pharisees in the Bible as an example of what happens to men who seek to be righteous by their own works. They are far from the Kingdom of God and by their lifestyles drive others away. Surrender to God and let Him walk the love walk in your life... for He is love. He will tell you whether to let that other driver merge into traffic. He will tell you to pray for that person who was mean to you. That is WWJD. It is also what you should do.
8 So then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him.
Romans 8:8 (Amplified Bible)
Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. If you are living the life of the flesh, you are not living a life of faith... because you are not believing in God as your source.
9 But you are not living the life of the flesh, you are living the life of the Spirit, if the [Holy] Spirit of God [really] dwells within you [directs and controls you]. But if anyone does not possess the [Holy] Spirit of Christ, he is none of His [he does not belong to Christ, is not truly a child of God]. 10 But if Christ lives in you, [then although] your [natural] body is dead by reason of sin and guilt, the spirit is alive because of [the] righteousness [that He imputes to you]. 11 And if the Spirit of Him Who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, [then] He Who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also restore to life your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies through His Spirit Who dwells in you.
Romans 8:9-11 (Amplified Bible)
Listen, folks... live the life of the Spirit. It is the love walk, for God is love. If you are God’s child, then you will show agape (loving people even if they are unlovable, and even if they do not return your love) towards everyone in Jesus’ name.