Life Through the Spirit.
Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. – Romans 8:5 NLT
Paul had a sin nature. You have a sin nature. I have a sin nature. Every person who has ever lived or is alive now has a sin nature. Even those of who are in Christ. But Paul has made it clear that, because of Christ’s death on the cross, we have been set free from having to live like a slave to sin, constantly giving in to the sinful disposition of our sin natures. While at one time we were totally enslaved and incapable of resisting our own sinful nature, we now have a choice. We have been given the Spirit of God, who resides within us, equipping and empowering us to live lives that are pleasing to Him. He can and will produce a host of good deeds through us and godly fruit within us. But we have to choose to live under his control, rather than willingly giving in to our own selfish sin nature.
Over and over again in this passage, Paul reminds us that we have the “power of the life-giving Spirit” within us. He has freed us from the power of sin that leads to death. He empowers us to no longer follow our sinful nature. But there is a choice that has to be made. We have to want to allow the Holy Spirit to control our minds and our lives. When He is in control, we will tend to think about the things that please Him. When our flesh is in control and our sinful nature raises its ugly head, we will find ourselves thinking about sinful things, inappropriate things, that don’t honor God or reflect our relationship as His sons and daughters. Paul emphasizes that the Spirit that lives within us is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. If that power can restore a dead man to life, it can restore us from spiritual death to new life. That incredible power can be tapped into in order to put to death the deeds of our sinful nature. It can allow us to live new lives – NOW – not just in eternity. We are God’s adopted children right here and now, not just some time in the future. We are heirs to His promises now, not just when Christ returns or He calls us home to heaven. We are beneficiaries of His life-transforming power now, not just at the rapture or when we experience our future glorification.
But Paul makes it clear that, while we will some day enjoy a future glorification and ultimate transformation into Christ-likeness, we are going to go through a period of suffering here and now. We will do daily battle with our sin nature, experiencing the same conflict and struggle that Paul expressed a few verses earlier. “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t. Instead, I do what I hate” (Romans 7:15 NLT). Christ suffered in His life on this planet. He had to do battle with sin and death, and so do we. We must constantly wage war with our sin nature and the enemy who seeks to kill and destroy us. We must wrestle with our inner desire to live for Christ, and the constant call of our sin nature to live for self. We are in a spiritual war zone as long as we live on this earth. But we have a power inside us that can equip us to live differently right here, right now. It will be difficult at times. It will be painful. But it will always result in our ongoing sanctification and ultimate glorification. We must rely on the Spirit of God to provide us with the power from God so that we can live lives that bring honor to God. This life-giving Spirit has not only freed us from sin and death, but empowers us to continue to live in freedom all the days of our lives – as long as we remain under His control and committed to living according to His power and not our own.
Father, thank You for providing Your Holy Spirit and placing Him inside me. I confess that I don’t always acknowledge His presence or tap into His power. I try far too often to live in my own strength and not in His. I do things my way, then wonder why things don’t turn out quite like I had hoped. Continue to show me how I might have victory over sin, not because I work hard at it, but because I have learned to rest in the power of Your Holy Spirit. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men