Walking According to the Spirit - Part 4

by Wayne Barber

Wayne BarberChrist lives in us but we must realize that we are still subject to sin-we're still capable of sinning. Christ gives us life and also promises us that one day we will be like Him, but there is a responsibility that we cannot ignore.

To walk according to the flesh is to act as if we owe it something. We must realize that we do not owe the flesh anything. Romans 8:12 says, "So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh." The words "under obligation" mean to owe a debt to someone or something. For us to live according to the flesh is to choose to obey its lustful desires. Every time we choose the flesh we show that we think we are in debt to it. That's as silly as it would be to pay a car off and to keep sending payments even though it was already paid for.

We must also recognize that to live that way costs us-there are consequences to choosing to live after the flesh. Paul describes the consequences of that kind of living in Romans 8:13a, "if you are living according to the flesh, you must die." The Greek word for "you must" is mello , meaning "you are about to." The present tense gives it the meaning that you are transitioning from one thing to another. Literally, you are experiencing death. When death occurs, something has stopped functioning or has ceased to operate. Once again, the present tense means that this death is happening in sync with your choosing to live according to the flesh.

But there is good news! Paul adds, "if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live" (Rom. 8:13b). You and I cannot put to death the deeds of the body alone, but the Spirit enables us to obey His will. Christ lives in us in the person of His Holy Spirit to enable us to accomplish anything He demands. When we obey His desires, we "will not carry out the desire of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16).

When we are living according to the Spirit of Christ, then we are being led by His Spirit. "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Rom 8:14). Once again the present indicative active is used, indicating that when we are yielding to the Spirit, we are being led step by step by the Spirit. Doesn't that remind you of what it says in Proverbs 3:6 "In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." This is the way the mature in Christ have chosen to live. The word for "sons" in this verse is the huios, referring to the mature sons whose wills are in sync with their Master's. Now, let's back up and make certain we "get the picture".

The announcer for the University of Georgia football team, Larry Munson, was the eyes for the radio listeners for years. He would try to clarify what the listeners could not see that was happening on the field. He would say, "now, let's get the picture." Then he would put into word pictures what was happening on the field. In Romans 6-8, we need to get the picture!

These 3 chapters are critical to our Christian lives particularly in the difficult times in which we are living. Romans 6 tells us that we are indwelt by the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ at the moment of salvation. Because of His presence in our lives, our lifestyle and behavior can and should be totally different than a person who does not know Christ.

Christ broke the power of sin, and as a result, we owe sin nothing. When we allow Christ to overcome us, we then experience His life living through us. But chapter 7 shows us that if we choose to be hardheaded and to live according to our own flesh, whether it is religious or rebellious flesh, we miserably fail and suffer the painful consequences. The flesh always produces failure, which is totally in contrast with what Christ does through us.

The Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Christ living in us, motivates us to walk according to the Spirit. Chapter 8 tells us again that we know instantly when we are not walking that way! The moment we choose to walk according to our flesh we immediately experience a "death" to the joy and fullness that is ours in Christ and we become miserable.

Do you know any believers who are miserable? In this miserable condition that all of us have experienced from time to time, there is no longer a consciousness of being led by the Spirit. We are confused, bewildered, and miserable when we will not yield to the Lordship of Christ in our lives. We need to "get the picture."

You may say, "I'm daily seeking to surrender my all to Christ, but I'm being beaten up for it! Is there any hope for me?" Or you may say, "I've blown it big time; is there any hope for me?" The answer to both questions is an emphatic yes, and we'll talk about that in next month's article.

Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico

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