Summary: As Christians, we have to work to tune into the Spirit and tune out the flesh to successfully walk with God.
SQUELCHING THE SINFUL NATURE
Text: Romans 8:6- 11
How many times have we heard of the self-made man? Frank Sinatra once sang about how he did his way------“I did it my way …”. What is it in human nature that drives us? What is it that motivates us and propels us? From reading this passage of scripture we can conclude that we are driven by one of two forces our own flesh or the Spirit.
Anyone who has Satellite TV knows the benefits of how he or she can get so many more channels than you would with the old fashioned “rabbit ears” or the antenna on your house. The Satellite signal comes from without and effects what happens within the TV. Our spiritual lives can be a lot like a Satellite signal. We can tune in to the Spirit or the flesh. If we tune into the flesh, then we will be self-centered and not God-centered.
How do we squelch the sinful nature of the flesh? Did you ever hear static on the radio that made you want to fine tune the radio? When we fine tune the desired station in and the undesirable noise out, then we have squelched the interference. As Christians, we have to work to tune into the Spirit and tune out the flesh to successfully walk with God.
GOOD IS NOT ENOUGH
Now how many times in your life have you heard about someone being a good person even though he or she was not saved? There are some with equate goodness with salvation. Hollywood might be partly responsible for giving us that interpretation. Why? The reason why has to do with the notion that good people automatically go to heaven and evil people automatically go to hell. Unlike what any Hollywood notion tells us, Christians know that the only way we get to heaven is through Jesus Christ.
Why is being good simply not enough? Simply being good is not enough because without setting one’s mind on the Spirit the is no life and no peace (Romans 8:6). Without the Spirit, we are prone to “… routinely succumb to the push and pull of the sinful passions and desires.” (David Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor. eds. Feasting On The Word: Year A, volume 2. Susan R. Garrett. “Exegetical Perspective”. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010, p. 137). Remember the conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus? Remember what Jesus said to Nicodemus in that conversation? Let’s review: “I am telling you the truth," replied Jesus, "that no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. A person is born physically of human parents, but is born spiritually of the Spirit” (John 3:15- 16 GNB). It seems like Paul is echoing the things that Jesus was talking to Nicodemus about.
There is a difference between what we say and what we do. How many pursue the fleshly things of this world? Consider this survey …
What is “essential” in the mind of the typical college freshman? An extensive survey conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute found that 85.8 percent say it is getting rich. That’s a 43 percent increase over what the typical college freshman thought in 1967. As for developing a meaningful philosophy of life? Only 45 percent found it to be of any real worth. That’s a 29 percent drop.
According to research collected by Pew Research for the MacNeil/Lehrer Productions’ Generation Next project, 18- to 25-year-olds listed the following as their top life goal:
• be rich: 81 percent
• be famous: 51 percent
• help people who need help: 30 percent
• be leaders in their community: 22 percent
• become more spiritual: 10 percent
(Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof. gen. eds. 1001 Illustrations That Connect . [Van Morris, “Goals of ‘Generation Next,’ ” PreachingToday.com]. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2008).
SPIRIT FILLED LIVING
How does a Spirit filled person have life and peace? Someone (Amy Plantinga Pauw) put it this way: “Our existence now is in the in-between time: the Lenten season before the final Easter. In this season our new identity through the Spirit is both a gift and a task. [this new life is a gift because of the resurrection and the] “… Spirit’s life giving presence in our midst”. … [It is a task because we are not exempt from] “… suffering and frustration as we wait in hope for our final redemption.” (David Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor. eds. Feasting On The Word: Year A, volume 2. Amy Plantinga Pauw. “”TheologicalPerspective”. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010, p. 138). The Spirit can help us to have peace in spite of adversity. The Holy Spirit can give us the strength we need to stand strong.
Does having a Spirit filled life mean that we will not fail? We will not be exempt from quenching the Spirit (I Thessalonians 5:19) or grieving the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). Neither will those who have a Spirit-filled life be exempt from sin. But, we should live our lives in such a way that the Spirit’s influence is made manifest. Others should be able to know that we are Christians by our love and our fruit----behavior and character. Romans 8:8 reminds us by saying “If we obey our human nature then we cannot please God” (GNB). Is it possible for us to momentarily obey the human nature? Isn’t that possible in every temptation we encounter?