Summary: This message is part of a series Entitled "Walking in the Spirit." Though Christians believe in the Holy Spirit, many do not understand how to walk daily in the Spirit nor the blessings God grants to those who do.
LIFE IN THE SPIRIT
Our text reveals that there are only two ways to live life. Paul draws several contrasts between existence ruled by the flesh and the new life of the Spirit. To walk in the Spirit is to be "in step" with the Spirit. Life in the Spirit means to follow His lead and remain in His control. It is life governed by the Spirit of God. This life is distinguished by the mind being set or focused on serving Christ. This individual’s desires are not selfishly controlled but are controlled by the will of Christ who lives in Him. If you are a believer, the Spirit is always in you for the purpose of lovingly leading you.
If a person is not in step with the Spirit of God he or she will be controlled by the flesh. These people live an existence which is dominated by sinful human nature whose focus and center of attention is self, whose life is lived to satisfy selfish desires.
These two mind sets are intent on diametrically opposite directions. The mind set dominated by the desires and activities of the sinful nature is on the way to death. The mind set dominated by the desires and activities of the will of God is on the way to life and life eternal. Each person
is responsible for which mind set he pursues. The believer’s responsibility is to set his mind on living in submission to the indwelling Holy Spirit or to focus his mind on Christ. (CIT).
I. THE TWO MIND SETS, 5-8.
II. THE INDWELLING SPIRIT, 9-10.
III. SPIRIT GIVEN LIFE, 11.
First in verses 5-8 Paul answers the question what does it mean to live according to the sinful nature or to live according to the Spirit? Verse 5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
People live life with one of two mind sets. One type of person’s mind is set (set on is phronousin, pres. tense, "keep on being mindful of or aspiring for") to seek those things he is most interested in, constantly talking about, engaged in and boasting about. Those who walk according to the flesh yield to the dictates of the flesh. They have their desires set on the things of the world, the things this world has to offer.
Those who live according to the Spirit aspire for or have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. To walk after the Spirit is to align or subject oneself to the Spirit. The man who walks after the Spirit cannot act independent of Him (Gal. 5:16). He acts in subjection to or in accordance with the Holy Spirit. He may have many failures but his basic orientation and uppermost concerns have to do with the things of the Spirit. The things of the Spirit are the things which the Spirit proposes and approves.
One’s mind or the concentration of one’s life either sides with one group or the other, it is impossible to be on both sides at once. You can not serve both God and mammon (or wealth, the world). The basic disposition or direction of our lives is either on God’s side or on the side of sinful human nature. The sinful nature and the indwelling Spirit are in conflict (Gal. 5:17).
We are involved in a real battle for the mind as verse 6 states, For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
As Christians, we are to be self-disciplined not only in our physical appetites but also in our thoughts. To lose the focus of our minds is to fall prey to the devil. Satan wants to control your mind, to have mind-control over you so he can brain-wash you to see life his way. He will use your thinking as his weapon to control you, defeat you (spiritually), and eventually devour you. If you don’t learn to control/master your thoughts, Satan will win the inner war. You must win the battle for your mind!
The mind is so much a part of everything we do and it is difficult to discipline it. The difficulty of controlling the mind is underscored by Lanny Bassham, an Olympic gold medalist in shooting the small-bore rifle. He explained in Sports Illustrated, "Our sport is controlled non-movement. We are shooting from 50 meters -- over half a football field -- at a bull’s eye three-quarters the size of a dime. If the angle of error at the point of the barrel is more that .005 of a millimeter (that is five one-thousandths), you drop into the next circle and lose a point. So we have to learn how to make everything stop. I stop my breathing. I stop my digestion by not eating for 12 hours before the competition. I train by running to keep my pulse around 60, so I have a full second between beats. You do all of this and you have the technical control. But you have to have some years of experience in reading conditions: the wind, the mirage. Then you have the other 80 percent of the problems --- focusing the mind!"