Friday, December 13, 2013
Victory in Christ - Part 17
This is the next installment of a series I am writing concerning what Romans 6-8 teaches about our sin problem and God's plan for victory. To find previous installments do a search for the title: Victory In Christ. You can find the first installment here.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
So this is the conclusion Paul draws by beginning the verse with the word “therefore.” With all that has gone before in the discussion, and with the most recent comments about our bodies going to be made new, we are debtors, but not to the flesh. We do not owe the flesh anything. The power of God through His Spirit is present in our lives. We've been redeemed and set free from bondage to sin and death. So we are not a debtor. We don't owe sin or the flesh anything. They do not have dominion any longer. Sin has been condemned in the flesh.
In verse 13 he repeats what I have been emphasizing all along and that is that if we live according to the flesh we will die. Christian or non-Christian, there is death in the flesh and in following the desires of the flesh. What that death is and how it works may be different in different people, but we must not deceive ourselves into thinking nothing is going to happen as a result. The death may come in terms of relationships, it may come in terms of peace and joy. It may come in terms of loss of testimony and effectiveness for God, but it will come.
The verse goes on to say that on the other hand, if we put to death the deeds of the body through the power of the Spirit, we will live. It seems to me that this is a key statement. We have all of the spiritual resources we need but it is something we need to do.
What does putting to death the deeds of the body mean? We know that the flesh has certain desires and attractions that are typical of all of us. John describes them as the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. These areas exert tremendous pull. Putting them to death means not to permit them to have their way. It means not making provision for the flesh in any way (Romans 13:14). To make provision means to prepare for it and make accomodations for it. This is what we are to avoid. We are to basically snuff out all of the oxygen for our lusts and fleshly desires. But the key here is that we are to do this through the power and motivation provided by the Spirit of God within us. The Spirit has been given to provide the motivation, the strength and the supporting intercession to accomplish this. We've been made new creatures in Christ. Our normal human nature is not strong enough to accomplish this. We must take advantage of the power of the Holy Spirit at work.
At this point it appears to me that there is a transition from the key role of the Spirit in our victory over sin to the general work of the Spirit in our lives. This doesn't mean there is a complete break but the lens zooms out so to speak and we see a bigger picture. What we see is related to our topic but in a different way. These remaining verses help us see the overall activity of the Spirit on our behalf. Knowing these truths and believing them to be true also helps us to gain the victory we so earnestly long for.
Principle 25: Use the power of the Spirit to put to death the deeds of the body.