I’m slowly walking through Romans 8. Last week I wrote about the first 4 verses. That was too much information to include in one blog post, and I’m sure I bored to tears or lost anyone who tried to read it. So I’ll only focus on one verse this week.
The section in Romans 8, from verse 5 to 14, focuses on the contrast between living in the spirit and living in the flesh. I think what Paul is trying to say culminates here in verse 13. (See above)
As I wrote about this verse this morning in my journaling, my “whiplash back and forth” writing on the pull between living in the flesh and living in the spirit conjured up a most striking panorama. I had the picture in my mind of a great battle. A huge battle. And, to survive in a battle, one must often kill or be killed.
I know that is a stark, grim example or illustration. But I think it is applicable to this verse. There is this tremendous tug-of-war for your soul–and my soul. It’s a fight between whether or not we are going to live in the flesh or live by the spirit. Take a look at the first part of the verse: If you live according to the flesh, you will die. That’s it. There are no exceptions; it is a death sentence. What does it mean to live according the flesh? Well, it doesn’t get any clearer than in Galatians 5:19-21:
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.
Don’t just glance over the list and dismiss it. Have you ever taken the time to really examine this list, and then examine your own soul? A hard, painful thing to do. Because we are all guilty of something–or multiple somethings–on this list. Idolatry alone (putting something before God) is enough to condemn us to not inherit the kingdom of God.
So if we are continually guilty, what’s there to save us? Of course, there is the forgiveness of our sins through the giving of God’s son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice for our sins. That is the only thing that saves us. But once we are in Christ Jesus, we are called to do battle. Take a look at the second half of Romans 8:13:
“……..but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
So it’s die as a result of living according to the flesh, or it is live by killing, or slaying the deeds of the body. It is a battle. And not one to be fought unprepared.
But it is not a battle you can wage on your own. Without being in Christ, without the Spirit, we can not succeed. But even with the Spirit, it does not mean that we sit back and let the Spirit do all the work. The phrase “you put to death” shows us that we have an active, not a passive, responsibility to kill. Or be killed.
Why is this so? I wonder why we have to continually take an active role in putting to death the things of the flesh, the things of Galatians 5:19-21? Wouldn’t it be so much easier if, when we experience salvation, something “mystical” would happen and we would no longer sin? Or that the Spirit would do all the work to protect us and lead us away from sin?
I don’t know the answer to these questions, except that maybe it is possible that God wants us to take an active role in putting to death the deeds of the flesh, so that we will be much more aware of our need for Him and for the Spirit. That we would be more aware that apart from the Spirit’s help, we are helpless in the battle. Because we are. I know I am.
Hurricane Sandy: I would ask that my few readers that visit here, would keep my crew and I in your prayers as we prepare to ride out Hurricane Sandy. Here we will sit. My biggest concern is actually the tall trees around our property. Seems that any little wind blows down an abundance of branches; great big wind means bigger branches. 🙂