Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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Walking in the flesh vs. walking in the spirit

Meditation for the week of August 17, 2008

Romans 7:24-25
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

Tell two year olds not to touch a hot stove and they will probably touch it once to find out why they were told no! Tell a teenager to take out the garbage and they will likely “forget” because nobody likes to be told what to do. Tell Eve not to eat just one piece of fruit out of all the fruit trees in the Garden of Eden and she will be tempted to do it when Satan tells her that God is really cheating her by not letting her eat that fruit. She was told she could be like God and would understand what was good and what was bad. She would be able to make her own decisions, she wouldn’t need God to tell her what was right and what was wrong.

Because we don’t like to be told what to do, and because we tend to obsess on the things we are not supposed to do, the law always condemns. It doesn’t save. Paul tells us in Romans 7 that the law is good, it is just that we are powerless to keep it. Whenever we get occupied with the things we are not supposed to do or the things we should do that we don’t do, we operate in the clenched teeth mode of Christianity. We clench our teeth and try to be all that the law says we should be but the law not only tempts us to do wrong, it gives us no power to do right. So what is the solution?

Paul says the solution is occupation with the Lord Jesus Christ. Chapter 7 is the conflict of a person who tries to please God by keeping the moral law of the old testament. Chapter 8 is the victory of the person who who walks “in the spirit”. First, we are reminded that if we are “walking in the Spirit” we are not condemned. According to verse 9, we began walking in the Spirit the moment we let the Spirit introduce us to Christ through the Word of God and we trusted Him. Verse 2 says that those who are walking in the Spirit are free from the principle of sin and death. The Spirit motivates us to live the victorious life because it keeps us occupied with the blessings we have in Christ. One of these blessings is hope. A person living in the flesh has no hope because they have nothing better than their present life to look forward to in the future. But a Christian has a secure future with Christ and they have been called, justified and glorified. We are being changed into the image of Christ. According to verse 28, all the things that the Spirit does in this chapter work together for good to those who love God.

Living under the do’s and don’ts of the law will defeat us because we will be walking or living according to the flesh which has no power over sin. The flesh is subject to temptation and is weak. But if we live according to the Spirit we will be victorious because we will be occupied with the Lord instead of with ourselves. Instead of thinking about what we can’t do and what we have to do we will be occupied with what we get to do because of what the Lord has done for us. Our motivating force will be based on the fact that we are loved by God and that nothing and nobody can destroy the love that God has for us.

When we are walking in the flesh by trying to keep the law we are always wondering if we have done enough to please the Lord. When we walk in the Spirit, we have the security of knowing that it is not our doing that counts but God’s love. And that was expressed by what He did for us when He gave His Son to be the sacrifice for our sins.. What we do for the Lord is simply an act of thanksgiving because the Spirit of God keeps us reminded that no matter how bad we foul things up, we will never be separated from the love of God.

Walking in the Spirit keeps us occupied with our blessings. Walking in the flesh keeps us occupied with our weaknesses under the law. I would rather be occupied with my blessings.

Bruce Collins

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