Summary: Paul lays it out bare about the carnal and Spirit-led lifestyle. He touches on the pros and cons and also exhorts us to make a choice that would lead to eternity in Christ.
Opening Illustration: Lena arrived in the port city of Magadan, Siberia, well before the Iron Curtain was drawn back. Sick and penniless, she went to the dock area to find work. There she met a gentleman who, as she put it, had “a good heart.” He gave Lena a job in his factory, and he and his wife provided her with food and shelter.
Lena had always feared the future. She confided in the couple about her visits to spiritualists and fortunetellers, but her newfound friends assured her that she didn’t need to consult the mediums to be secure about the future. Then they told her about Jesus. Lena had never heard of Him, so they explained who Jesus is and that He could set her free from her fear. A few months later, Lena became a believer in Jesus Christ.
“Now,” she says, “instead of seeking the spirits, I am led by the Holy Spirit.” Her apprehension about the future has been replaced by the peace that God alone can give.
Perhaps you’re worried about the future and preoccupied with what it may have in store for you. There’s only one way you will ever have peace about it. Like Lena, you must put your future in God’s hands. Trust in Christ as your Savior. Then, no matter what the future holds, you will experience the peace that His Holy Spirit brings. (Our Daily Bread, by David C. Egner)
Let us turn to Romans 8 and learn how to fight the flesh and live and walk by the Holy Spirit.
Introduction: In this passage Paul is drawing a contrast between two kinds of life. In fact he lays it out bare about the carnal and Spirit-led lifestyles. He touches on the pros and cons and also exhorts us to make a choice that would lead to eternity in Christ.
What Paul is doing in this section is contrasting a LOST and a SAVED person - we know that although we are no longer "in the flesh," the Bible clearly teaches that the flesh is still in us in these mortal bodies - the difference now that we are in Christ is that we can say "yes" to Jesus and "no" to the FLESH.
In God’s eyes, there are only two kinds of people in the world, those who do not belong to Him and those who do. Obviously there are degrees in both categories. In other words, some unsaved people exhibit high moral standards and behavior, and, on the other hand, many saints do not mind the things of God as obediently as they should especially considering that they possess the Holy Spirit Who enables them to be holy. But every human being is completely in one spiritual state of being or the other and either belongs to God or does not belong to God. Just as a person cannot be partly dead and partly alive physically, neither can he be partly dead and partly alive spiritually. There is no middle ground. A person is either forgiven and in the kingdom of God or unforgiven and in the kingdom of darkness in this world and under the dominion of Satan. In short, every person on planet earth is either a child of God or a child of Satan; all are either in Christ or in Adam. There are no exceptions to this rule.
Which lifestyle will you choose?
1. CARNAL Lifestyle
There is the life which is dominated by sinful human nature; the life whose focus and center is self; the life that is absorbed in the things that fascinate sinful human nature; the life whose only law is its own desires; the life which takes what it likes where it likes. In different people that life will be differently described. It may be passion-controlled, or lust-controlled, or pride-controlled, or ambition controlled. Its characteristic is its absorption in the things that human nature without Christ sets its heart upon.
These two lives are going in diametrically different directions. The life that is dominated by the desires and activities of sinful human nature is on the way to death. In the most literal sense, there is no future in it. That is because it is getting further and further away from God. To allow the things of the world completely to dominate life is self-extinction; it is spiritual suicide; it is, again in the most literal sense, soul destroying. By living it a man is making himself totally unfit ever to stand in the presence of God. He is hostile to God; he is resentful of God’s law and God’s control. God is not his friend but his foe and no man ever won the last battle against God.
"FLESH is openly arrogant, overbearing, boastful, lustful, cynical, and proud. We have it described in Ephesians 5. But when it is driven by the Spirit into a corner it can assume a garb of righteousness and become pious, religious, scrupulous about morals, zealous in church work, indignant over wrongs, provokingly evangelical! The righteousness of the FLESH is always counterfeit righteousness. It is centered in self, and therefore it is always self-righteousness ... The FLESH can memorize Scripture. The FLESH can teach Sunday school. The FLESH can distribute tracts, give large gifts of money, give a stirring testimony, teach a Bible class, sing solos, or preach a sermon. It can even apologize (after a fashion), and repent (to some extent), or suffer (with a martyred air), but there is one thing that FLESH will never do. It will do anything to survive, but one thing: It will never give in; it will never surrender, it will never change, it will never give up, never! It is a slippery, elusive thing; and, when we back it into a corner, it simply takes on a different disguise and appears in a different form, but it is the same old, deadly, evil FLESH. When driven into a corner it would rather wreck your life than give in. Have you found this to be true?" (The Price of Survival; see also The Death of the Flesh)