What You Practice is Who You Are

Romans 8:1-8 ESV

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not 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 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.”

[Verse 1 in the KJV: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”]

What our minds and hearts are set on is what establishes who we are in character. How we live in practice also establishes and reveals our character. No one is perfect all the time, but the Scriptures make it very clear that there is a dividing line between those who make sin their practice (habit, addiction) and those who make righteousness their practice (their lifestyle). So, making the statement that everyone sins and no one is perfect does not excuse away deliberate and habitual and often premeditated sin.

We are not declared righteous in God’s sight if all we do is just make a public profession of him as Lord and Savior. We have to die with Christ to sin and then we need to live to him and to his righteousness, for this is the reason he died for us (1 Peter 2:24; Romans 6:1-23). We don’t do this in our own strength, and this is not us trying to earn our own salvation. This is us walking in the grace we have received from the Lord if we truly have been born again of the Spirit of God to now walk in newness of life in him.

For look what it teaches here. Yes, there is no condemnation for those who are genuinely in Christ Jesus. And how does it describe those who are in Christ Jesus? They are those who walk (in conduct, in practice) not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. And what does that look like? It involves dying to sin, not just once, but daily, and it involves walks of obedience to our Lord in holiness and in righteousness, to the glory and praise of God, and in his power, strength, and wisdom (Luke 9:23-26).

You can’t just claim you are in Christ and therefore you are in Christ. You have to live like you are in Christ, not necessarily in absolute sinless perfection, but daily by the Spirit putting to death the deeds of the flesh, saying “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly passions, and living self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return. We must put off our old sinful self and put on Christ and his righteousness, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Titus 2:11-14; Ephesians 4:17-24).

There are many people professing faith in Jesus Christ who are still living according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit. They are still deliberately and habitually and often premeditatedly sinning against God and against their fellow humans, often without conscience, without compassion towards those they are sinning against, and without remorse. Some of them may fake their Christianity and pretend as though they are following Jesus while they sin in secret in many different ways, like the Pharisees.

But how we live is who we are, and I don’t mean that we have to be perfect. I am talking about what our minds and hearts are set on, which is evident by our regular practices and attitudes. And this doesn’t mean that you have to be literally committing sins 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but this has to do with our daily walks, how we live consistently and regularly and habitually. So you can’t just confess sin after every sin and think you are starting over. If sin is what you practice, it will end in death, not life.

Repentance means a change of mind and it means to turn away from the life we were living to now walk the opposite direction. So, if all you do is just keep recycling the same addictive sin patterns over again, you have not truly repented. For you haven’t died to your sins. They are still alive and kicking and screaming and calling out to you to obey them. But if sin is what we obey, the Scriptures teach that it will end in death, not life eternal. Please read the New Testament in context. You will see what I mean.

For, what does it say here? The mind that is set on the flesh, on pleasing and feeding the flesh, not only does it result in death, but it is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it cannot. For those who are still living in the flesh for the passions of the flesh cannot please God. And this is not Old Testament teaching. This is New Testament teaching, and it is Paul’s teaching. For those who are sexually immoral, and liars, and adulterers, and idolaters, and drunkards, etc., will not inherit eternal life.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; 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.”

So, please take this seriously. The Bible does not teach once saved always saved. It teaches progressive salvation, for it requires walks of faith and obedience to our Lord and the forsaking of lives of sin, steadfast to the end, in order for us to be saved in the end, and for us to have eternal life with God (please read the above Scripture references). And again, this has nothing to do with trying to earn one’s salvation. This is walking in the grace of God according to the teachings of Scripture in obedience to our Lord. For it is all who are being led by the Spirit of God who are the children of God.

Footprints of Jesus

Lyrics by Mary B. Slade, pub. 1871
Music by Asa B. Everett

Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling,
Come, follow Me!
And we see where Thy footprints falling
Lead us to Thee.

Though they lead o’er the cold, dark mountains,
Seeking His sheep;
Or along by Siloam’s fountains,
Helping the weak.

If they lead through the temple holy,
Preaching the Word;
Or in homes of the poor and lowly,
Serving the Lord.

If Thy way and its sorrows bearing,
We go again,
Up the slope of the hillside, bearing
Our cross of pain.

Then, at last, when on high He sees us,
Our journey done,
We will rest where the steps of Jesus
End at His throne.

Footprints of Jesus,
That make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus
Where’er they go.

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