Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Two ways to Live (Part 1)

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:5-8)
In these verses we have a clear comparison of what it means to be a Christian and what it means to be living in sin with the results of both. We'll look mainly at sin and it's results in this post, and I'll be posting on what it means to "live in accordance with the Spirit" in the near future (God willing).

Living according to the Flesh

"The mind" means what we are focused on: our goals, passions and aims. For the non-christian, their minds are fixed on “what the flesh desires”. Sin. Let me explain that: It doesn't mean that non-christians are always thinking about and planning to do specific sinful things. But they also aren't thinking about God. They aren't thinking about how to glorify God with all they do. Instead of thinking about what God wants, we all naturally think about "what I want". Without salvation in Jesus we won't be thinking about what we want to do, not about him.

What's the problem with that? What is the result of being focussed on what the flesh desires? The result of sin is “Death”. That is the just and right punishment for disobedience to God. In fact, Paul says that the mind governed by the flesh is dead. One commentator said the following:
"[sin] not only leads to death, or leads to misery, but it is death itself; there is woe and condemnation in the very act and purpose of being supremely devoted to the corrupt passions, Its only tendency is condemnation and despair." (Albert Barnes)
The Goal of Sin

Sin has the very goal of condemning us to death before God. Paul doesn’t just mean physical death but spiritual death. Sin is a direct attack on God’s character:

  • He is good, sin is evil; 
  • He is perfect and just, sin is wicked and corrupt. 
  • He is all-wise, sin is rebellion against God and trying to live by our own wisdom. 
  • He is all-powerful, the creator of all things, sin is a denial of his right to rule over our lives. 
Sin can never please God because it is the opposite of his character and he will punish us for it. Even one ‘little’ lie is enough for him to justly condemn us to hell for eternity. In the words of David:
Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. (Psalm 34:21)
Thankfully that’s not the end of the story. In fact, it’s the beginning of the gospel. Jesus, who is God, came to earth as a man and died in our place. He took our sin and he took God’s wrath that we deserved for it. That should fill us with joy if we are Christians! So the question remains: Are you a Christian? How will you live your life?

Nathanael Muscat is in his last year of high school. He was brought up in a Christian home and accepted Christ as Lord and Savior as he was growing up. He started his blog, Only In Christ, about a year ago.

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