Have you ever wondered if you're living in the Spirit or the flesh? Read on!
Before you start, would you do me a favor and pray?
Pray that God will use what you read here in your life and that it would be helpful to you. Thanks!
Grab your Bible or use the link I included below to read the passage! Read carefully, stopping as God nudges you.
When I was probably 10 or 11, my Girl Scout troop had the privilege of going to a local radio station and learning about how radio works. We even got to be on air and announce a couple of songs (I announced "Jesus Take the Wheel" by Carrie Underwood, and if you happened to be listening to my nervous kid voice for those 10 seconds on the radio that one time a decade ago, I'll be signing autographs later).
I wasn't at that radio station announcing songs (Do DJ's even do that anymore?) because of any training on my part. I had no communications degree, no experience in broadcast journalism. I don't think I even had a good understanding of what college was.
I was there because someone arranged for me to be there. Someone decided they wanted me to know what it was like to announce a song on the radio.
It was a gift.
I know that it's laughable to think that there was even a chance that I was there because of my qualifications. Lately, though, I've started to wonder if we might have some trouble applying the same principles to our salvation.
Am I living in the flesh or the Spirit?
That's always the question I find myself asking as I'm reading verses 1-8 even though I've read Romans a dozen times at this point.
Verse 2 says that the law of the Spirit of Jesus (the New Covenant) has set us free from the law of sin and of death. when we set our minds on it, we're living in the Spirit (verse 5) and it brings peace and life (verse 6).
On the other side of things, living in the flesh causes us to set our minds on the things of the flesh. It leads to death. It makes it impossible to please God, because flesh is by its very nature hostile to God.
The first time I read verses 1-8 of this passage, I automatically started thinking of the things I'd done--or hadn't done--that were flesh-motivated. I started to make a flesh vs. Spirit list in my mind of the things I've thought and done, and since my "flesh" list was longer it made me think, "Obviously, since I've done these things, I'm living in the flesh." It made me start to wonder if I'm an imposter who isn't actually living for God.
And then I got to verse 9:
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.
So now, that begs the question of whether or not we have the Holy Spirit. Look at Acts 2:37:
Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
According to Peter, here are the steps to receiving the Holy Spirit:
- Be baptized
If you have fulfilled the above--and, if you're a believer, you probably have--then you have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you. That means you are in the Spirit of Christ Jesus, able to set your mind on the things of the Spirit, and there is no condemnation for you.
"I must be living in the flesh. I'm an imposter." These are the lies of the enemy, and they are discouraging. They are works-based and guilt-based, and by that description they are the opposite of the Gospel.
The New Covenant says that we are in the Spirit and we have life not because of the works we do, but because of the righteousness of the Spirit of Christ within us.
Since you are in Christ Jesus, you are free from sin and death.
That's the whole reason Jesus died on the cross. Just like 10-year-old me at the local radio station, you don't need to have any qualifications. God decided before you even knew His name that He wanted you to live forever with Him, free from the heaviness of this world.
Let this be a relief to you, friend. None of us had the qualifications to receive a gift like this, but we don't need to. Jesus did, and by His death and resurrection He has transferred them to us.
Step 1: Ask God to search your heart.
Ask Him if there is anything you need to repent of. Sin keeps us from fully embracing the freedom found in Him.
Take a look at Romans 6:20-22:
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.
"Return home," this passage says, "so you can once again receive the benefits of living as a child of God."
What real benefits are you getting from your sin? What fruit?
Step 2: Accept the freedom you have.
What good is it being free if we can't live it out? If we truly believe that we are free from the things that once ensnares us, suddenly we become empowered to share that good news with others.
I'll leave you with Romans 8:15-17 as a final word of encouragement:
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Until next time,