Glorious Life in the Spirit.

Human history is filled with stories of empires that attempted to rule as much territory as possible. It is part of our fallen nature to want to rule the world. Romans 5 told us that we used to be ruled by sin, but salvation changes the ruler of our lives. We are now governed by the life-giving Spirit of God.

In the context of how God secures the believer, Romans 8:5-13 gives several comparisons and contrasts between life lived under the power of the flesh and life in the Spirit, which is joyful and powerful.

No Contention

Because of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, we have the abundant life that Christ promised in John 10:10.

The Spirit prays that we would understand God's whole will. The Spirit views us from the same viewpoint as the Father does. God saves, holds, and keeps us with His omnipotence. The Spirit knows what He has done in our hearts, and He enables us to persevere. We are passive regarding our own security.

When Paul refers to life in the flesh (Romans 8:8-13), he is not talking about a struggle with sin after salvation; he is referring to life lived under the governance of the flesh before a person is saved. "Flesh" in this context refers not to the sin nature, but to a state of living. Douglas Moo's commentary is helpful in understanding this contrast.

Note how many times the word "mind" is used in Romans 8:5-7. This is actually a different Greek word than usual for "mind" and is better translated "mindset." Paul contrasts two different mindsets that manifest themselves in differing lifestyles. One author said, "It is our fundamental orientation, the convictions and our heart attitude, that steers the ultimate course of our life."

Vices of a Fleshly Mindset

Paul describes the mindset of an unbeliever not as a warning, but an encouragement to the Romans. This is who they used to be.

  • A mindset characterized by death
  • Hostile to God in its nature
  • Rejects the Word of God
  • Functionally incapable of any spiritual good
  • Does not possess the Holy Spirit
  • Property of and ruled by darkness (Galatians 5:19-21)

Remember that those living in the flesh can still do moral and civic good. Their public reputation may not be known as sinful, but every unbeliever still has this mindset. They have no power over private sin. Even if no one else knows, God does. This is why the Gospel is so hard to hear for many!

Life in the Spirit

Every person has the opportunity to experience life in the Spirit.

  • A mindset that leads to eternal life (Romans 6:23)
  • Characterized by peace (Romans 5:1). This peace is positional; we are no longer enemies of God.
  • Given the indwelling of God's Spirit
  • Alive because of Christ's righteousness
  • Embraces the Word of God to learn the ministry and character of the Holy Spirit
  • Lives in the reality of resurrection life (1 Corinthians 15:12-26)

James Montgomery Boice quotes John Murray as saying, "The believer's once-for-all death to sin and the law does not free him from the necessity of mortifying sin in his members; it makes it necessary and possible for him to do so."

Verses 12-13 give the purpose and conclusion of the section. Romans 8:12 directs this whole section to "brethren," those who are in Christ. The lifestyle change that comes from knowing Christ is a certainty. Our response is to live out Romans 8:13, confident that the Spirit makes us able to do so because of what has been done in us. The only way we are able to put to death

Application Points

  • Would Paul call you "brethren"? Or are you still under the old regime of sin? Consider the contrast of these two mindsets and lifestyles. As He convicts you, allow God's Spirit to transfer you to His rule.
  • Believers, continue to invest time in living in the Spirit. Learn doctrine personally and corporately. Keep living it out as Gospel light in the community.

Tools for Further Study

A Hymn to Encourage: "More About Jesus"

More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love who died for me.

More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love who died for me.

More about Jesus let me learn,
More of His holy will discern;
Spirit of God, my teacher be,
Showing the things of Christ to me.

More about Jesus, in His Word,
Holding communion with my Lord;
Hearing His voice in every line,
Making each faithful saying mine.

More about Jesus on His throne,
Riches in glory all His own;
More of His kingdom’s sure increase;
More of His coming, Prince of Peace.