Living by the Flesh or by the Spirit

Romans 8:5-8 ESV

“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 set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 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. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

We either live our lives according to the flesh or according to the Spirit. According to the flesh means we are still on the throne of our own lives making all our own decisions, doing whatever feels good to us, still living under the control of sin and Satan, still deliberately and habitually sinning against our Lord and other humans. It doesn’t mean we don’t do good deeds for others or that we are never kind. It just means the flesh is still ruling.

If we are living our lives according to the Spirit that means we have humbled ourselves before God, we have repented of our sins, we have been crucified with Christ in death to sin and we have been raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him. We have been delivered from our enslavement to sin and so we now walk (in conduct, in practice) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. Now we walk in obedience to our Lord Jesus.

If our minds are set (focused, determined, decided) on the flesh it won’t matter a bit what we have confessed or professed with our lips or have acknowledged that we believe in our hearts. Our lives will end in death not in life eternal with God. We will die in our sin. We will not inherit eternal life. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God. Why? Because it does not SUBMIT TO GOD’S LAW (the gospel). We need to get this!

Now I hear some teachers teach and people believing that if they “believe” in Jesus that they are already fully pleasing to God and that there is nothing they can do to displease God. They believe, therefore, that they don’t have to do anything to please God because they believe they are already pleasing him by their declaration of faith in him. But that isn’t biblical. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God and we do have to do what pleases him.

[Jn 15:1-11; Rom 8:8; 1 Co 15:58; 2 Co 5:9; 2 Co 9:8; Gal 5:6; Gal 6:8; Eph 2:10; Eph 5:10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:9-14; 1 Thes 2:4; 1 Thes 4:1; 2 Thes 1:11-12; 2 Tim 2:4,21; Heb 11:6; Heb 13:6; 1 Jn 3:22; Tit 2:11-14; Tit 3:8; Jas 2:17; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13]

Romans 8:9-11 ESV

“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

When it comes to teachings on our salvation and eternal life you will find that many sentences or phrases begin with the word “if.” The word “if” shows that there is something conditional here. For us to be in the Spirit, the Spirit of God has to be dwelling in us. Now that isn’t something we can see with our physical eyes but the Scriptures give us many indicators to let us know what it looks like when the Spirit is indwelling the life of someone.

And the section previous to this gives us some of those indicators of what it means to have the Spirit dwelling in us. Our minds need to be set (settled, determined, fixed) on the Spirit and not on the flesh. And we have to be living (walking in practice) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, not life everlasting. And the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God and cannot please God.

Jesus said we must deny self, daily die to sin, and follow him in obedience. He said we don’t have eternal life with God on a mere profession of faith in Christ but we must be obeying the Lord. Paul taught that we must walk by the Spirit so we do not gratify the desires of the flesh. We are to no longer live for ourselves but for Christ who gave his life up for us. For if sin is what we practice we will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Paul also taught that we are all going to reap what we sow and if we sow to please the flesh we will reap destruction, but if we sow to please the Spirit, we will reap eternal life. For he said that our Lord is going to render to each one according to his works and for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. They will not inherit eternal life with God.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Ac 26:18; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Romans 8:12-14 ESV

“So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 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. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

I also hear people say, since our salvation is a gift of God and that we can do nothing to earn or to deserve it, that we don’t have to do anything other than to “believe,” which is rarely defined but which lends itself more towards giving lip service to God only. But that is not what the Scriptures teach. Yes, we are not saved by our own fleshly works but we are saved to do good works that God prepared for us to walk in them (Eph 2:10; Titus 2:14).

Also, we have to realize that God’s grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return (Titus 2:11-14). And our salvation is not just forgiveness of sins, and escape from hell, and the hope of heaven when we die. Our salvation is deliverance from slavery (addiction) to sin so we will now be obedient slaves of God (Rom 6:1-23).

So, although we do nothing in ourselves to obtain our own salvation, we are saved by God’s grace so that we will no longer live in sin but so we will walk in obedience to our Lord. So we are debtors to God to live holy lives pleasing to him and to no longer live according to the flesh doing what our sinful hearts desire. For if we live (in practice) according to the flesh (in sin and for self) we will die in our sins. Heaven will not be our eternal destiny.

But if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the body, we will live with Christ for eternity. For all who are being led by the Spirit are the sons of God. And to be led by the Spirit means we are walking in obedience to our Lord and we are doing what he says and we are no longer living in deliberate and habitual sin against God and against our fellow humans. For the Spirit dwells in us who walk by the Spirit and not according to the flesh.

Living Water

An Original Work / November 21, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

My people have forsaken Me,
Their Savior, who died on a tree;
Made idols, and they worshipped them;
So empty, they will ne’er fulfill.

Lord, You are the hope of Your chosen ones.
Those who turn away from You will be shamed;
The Spring of Living Water left behind.

Living Water satisfies.

The thirsty, let them come and drink;
Believe in Jesus as their King;
The gift of Jesus given them,
So they will never thirst again.

Indeed, the Living Water flows within.
It springs up like a fountain cleansing sin.
Eternal life in heaven promised them.

Living Water glorifies.

Oh people, won’t you come to Him?
Obey Him and repent of sin.
Let Jesus come and live within.
Surrender all your life to Him.

My people, won’t you turn your hearts to Me?
Forsake your idols and then you’ll be free.
Won’t you come now to Me on bended knee?

Living Water sanctifies.

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