There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
(Rom 8:1-11 NKJV)
Paul puts forth two ways of living in this world, one he calls the way of the “flesh” the other is “life and peace.” Who are you today? What choice did you make before you walked out of your home today.? That is really what this is all about, the choice we make every day of our lives, to either live in the flesh or in the Spirit.
I am always surprised when people decide to live self-absorbed lives, lives in the flesh. Making choices that lead only to the second death, yet people do it all the time. We need look no further than the latest scandal in the world, it matters not where it is only that people make these choices to chase after money, sex, power, and end up disgraced, dying alone, in prison. Either the prison that has bars and barbed wire, or the prison of the mind, or even the prison of loneliness.
Paul begins by saying that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” What is that all about? It means that we who have decided, made the choice, to follow Christ, are now justified, we stand before God as new creatures, cleansed of our sins. Bathed in the righteousness that comes to us through Christ. The Spirit of God now inhabits our being and has cleansed our souls of impurity. We are freed from sin and death. It all originates in the resurrection of Christ from the grave at Calvary.
When Jesus was resurrected the powers of the flesh, Satan, the Devil whatever you want to call it, no longer has dominion over those who come to Christ. John 3:16 says it quite clearly, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whosoever would believe, would have eternal life.” Whosoever would believe, not a select few, but anyone who would believe that the death of Christ, and the resurrection of Christ, were sufficient to cleanse anyone who would believe that Christ went through that for their salvation.
That is why there is now no condemnation, God dealt with it on the cross at Calvary, sin no longer has any power in the life of those who have chosen to follow Christ. That is why Paul can say, that those who set their minds on the flesh and live that way, have chosen the path of eternal death. Those who have chosen to live according to the Spirit of God have set their minds and hearts on the things of eternal life through Christ Jesus.
We read in verse 7: “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law, indeed, it cannot.” and in verse 8: “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
What does it mean to live in the flesh? Those of us who are concerned with the toys of life, by that I mean, gold and silver, expensive jewels, big and expensive cars. It also means that we are interested only in pleasing ourselves, we don’t care about the neighbor in need, we care only for our own desires, lusts and physical needs. This is also idolatry, for these lusts, desires, passions, and even pride in self, become our gods, and lead us deeper and deeper in depraved and sensual ways of living. We are in that way enemies of God, and we who live in this way, condemn ourselves to the outer darkness where there is wailing, crying and thick darkness, where the light of God cannot penetrate.
Well how about life in the Spirit? This kind of life is centered around the love of God. So when we walk in the Spirit, we are interested in those things that are of God’s love. This means that we are interested in those around us, that we do things that reflect God’s love in our lives so that others will receive from that love. All that we do, is done to please God, to bring others into the kingdom in which we live, to also find the Love of God in their own lives, as we have done.
So, now let us look at what it is that makes us who we truly are. Firstly of course is that we choose on a daily basis, not just once when we “got saved” but every day of our lives, we choose who we will be, who we will follow. What Paul says is that we are alive in Christ, because the Spirit of Christ is in us who believe. Since we have that Spirit in us, we have the power of Christ himself in us. We are the ones who are to be working to transform the world, because God loves the world so much, He has sent Christ to heal all who will be healed.
We are that presence for we are the body of Christ, and it is we who are to bring healing to a troubled world. Of course it is a world that is way to big for you or I to bring any sort of change into. However we can and should be bringing change, healing, transformation, into the world we can change. Namely our own lives first, then working within our family, then our neighbors, who Christ has said we should love as if they were ourselves.
Then we can look at the laws and the government in our city, and see what we can do to bring sanity to our government and get laws passed that make sense and that will bring healing to our community as a whole. We are also to work to transform our churches, the church is the place where transformation takes place, but it cannot take place when there is strife within the body of Christ. Healing must begin in our congregation, forgiveness for past sins must be a part of what we do, not just say. In the prayer that Jesus taught the disciples we read that we are to ask God to forgive us our trespasses, sins, as we forgive those who trespass, sin, against us. In other words, if we do not forgive our brethren, we are saying that God should not forgive us either. Peter once asked Jesus, “If my brother sins against me, how many times must I forgive him 7?. Jesus’ reply was not 7 times, but 70 times 7.
So, who are you? Have you practiced healing and wholeness in your own life, have you forgiven those who have sinned against you, that God may forgive you for your sins against Him? Have you left the “fleshly” pursuits behind, and gone on to walk with Christ? Have you forgiven those who have harmed you in some way, just as Christ forgave those who crucified him at Calvary. “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.”
Do you present one persona, one mask to your church friends and a different persona to those who are outside your church family? Or do you live your faith every day, in every way. Working to bring healing and wholeness in all your relationships.
Beloved, I ask you to monitor your own thoughts this week, at least one day this week, be deliberate in what you do, and see what your thoughts are in relation to who you meet and the situations you find yourself in. Journal about them, spend time in prayer over them with God. Did you heal, or did you hurt? What were you thinking when you saw this person, and how did you react to them. Were you thinking one thing, but acting in another manner? You know, big smile on your face, “so nice to see you” from your lips, and yet thinking, “sure wish I didn’t have to deal with this person.”
Remember, we hold the power to change the world, it is up to us to choose to use that power to bring healing, to those who are hurting, we are the body of Christ, it is our place to do as Jesus would do, to love our neighbor as if that person was ourself. May the Lord guide you this week into all righteousness.