Summary: This series is based on A. M. Hills book "Holiness in the Book of Romans."
Choices are all around us. Some choices force us to decide between two different things. Some don’t. Ice cream machines have allowed those of us who like chocolate and vanilla to get both in the form of “swirl” ice cream. Other decisions aren’t like that. They require an either-or decision. Like on a true-false test, we must choose either true or false. There is no middle ground there; there is no “frue” or “talse.”
Read Romans 8:5-14.
Paul is contrasting to very different things here. The choice is clear. It’s either one or the other. There is no middle ground.
=> Life in the FLESH: What is it?
What exactly is life in the flesh? The flesh is our “sinful nature,” “lower nature,” “human nature,” or “carnal attitude” as various translations have it. What consequence does it have on us?
-> It is WORLDLY minded
Paul says that they “set their minds on the things of the flesh.” That means we are consumed by the desires of our sinful nature. We are wrapped up in the here and now. We live for the moment.
I used to have a job where I helped people save money for retirement, education, etc. I was surprised at how difficult it was to convince people that they needed to save money. It seemed as though people were more concerned about having money right now.
-> It is DEATH
Not only does a life in the flesh lead to death it is death. Death is more than just the heart or breath stopping. It is separation from God. People who pursue earthly things like money, power, and the like are often the most unfulfilled people. Why? Nothing on earth can bridge the gap between God and us. We all have a God-shaped hole in our life.
-> It is HOSTILE to God
We can in no way please God on our own. In reality, when we are controlled by the sinful nature we don’t want to please God. The essence of the sinful nature is that we want to be our own god. We want to be in charge.
I have worked with people who hostile toward the boss. No matter what the boss did, they were mad.
=> Life in the SPIRIT: What is it?
Fortunately we don’t have to live in the flesh. We don’t have to live in constant submission to the sinful nature. We can enjoy life in the Spirit. We have to choose it. It doesn’t just happen.
-> It is SPIRITUALLY minded
It makes sense that the life in the Spirit is spiritually minded. That means that we don’t sit around all day and read the Bible and pray. Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. Being spiritually minded means that we live in a way that we please God. God is the love of our life, and we would do anything for him.
-> It is LIFE and PEACE
While the flesh leads to death and is death, life in the Spirit leads to life and peace and is life and peace. In the flesh we are separated from God, but in the Spirit we are joined to God. We have fellowship with him. Eternal life isn’t something we gain only at physical death. It is part of our present reality. We can experience a part of it here and now. It is only a shadow of what we will experience in Heaven, but it begins now.
From that we have peace. Peace that tells us we are God’s. In verse 16 Paul says, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” We can know that we know that we know we are God’s, and that is peace.
-> It is OPEN to God
We are open as opposed to being hostile to God. Paul talks about the Spirit dwelling in us. The Spirit can only dwell in us if we open the door and let him in. If I come to your house and you’re hostile toward me, you wouldn’t let me in. You would keep the door locked and hide. If you were favorably disposed toward me, you would open the door. Are you open to God?
=> Life as CHILDREN
If we choose to live life in the Spirit, Paul tells us we are children of God. Verse 14 says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are [children] of God.” What a neat picture that is. As children we are heirs to heaven. There are a few other things Paul considers at this point.
-> In DEBT to who?
We are in debt to someone. As children of God living life in the Spirit we owe nothing to our sinful nature. Prov. 22:7 says, “The borrower is the slave of the lender.” If we owe someone money they are our master. We owe nothing the flesh. We owe everything to Christ, and he is our Master.