Read His Words Before Ours!
“For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit. Now the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Spirit is life and peace. The mindset of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it is unable to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him.” (Romans 8:5-9)
If you read my Faces of Grace story, you’ll learn of my season of sin after the deaths of my father and father-in-law within months of each other. Looking back, “I’m free to do whatever I want” aptly describes my mindset. But was I really free? No.
It’s easy to think we’re in control of sin, but we’re not. In fact, we’re born as slaves to sin. God warned Cain, “[. . .] if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7) Romans 6:12 reiterates, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires.” So if I am obeying something, I’m not really free, right? Romans 6 further describes sin:
- the body ruled by sin (verse 6)
- enslaved to sin (verse 6)
- a person who has died is freed from sin (verse 7)
- sin will not rule over you (verse 14)
- you are slaves of the one you obey—either of sin leading to death (verse 16)
- slaves to impurity (verse 19)
That doesn’t sound like freedom to me. To truly understand why sin equals bondage and not freedom, answer this question: how many times, after sinning, do you feel the crushing weight of guilt? I know I did in that season and frankly, every time I sin. And what about when you repeat the sin? Do you feel as if you were compelled somehow? That’s the enslavement part. Sisters, that’s not freedom. It’s actually a pathway to death, because “the wages of sin is death”. But the good news is “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) So how do we go from death to life? Happy to share.
“Now the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)
Mindset is defined as the established set of attitudes held by someone. So when we read this verse, we see two mindsets, “of the flesh” and “of the Spirit.” To be clear, we can’t have both.
We’re born with a bent toward self. We want our way. We’re not inherently good. Romans 3:10-12 tells us there is not one righteous person, no one who seeks God, and no good person. “But Mari,” you say, “aren’t Christians good people?” Good question. Let me answer by comparing and contrasting.
Non-Christians “live according to the flesh,” or have a mindset of the flesh. Romans 8:7 tells us, “The mindset of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it is unable to do so.” So nonbelievers cannot and will not live according to the Spirit or the Word. They can’t please our Holy God. As a result they “carry out the desire of the flesh.” Galatians 5:19-21 explains the fruit of those choices: “sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar.” Sobering, isn’t it?
But Christians live by a different mindset, that of the Spirit. “The mindset of the Spirit is life and peace.” Life and peace is quite different from the outcome of the mindset of the flesh. When “the Spirit of God lives in you,” the fruit we bear is very different. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Did you catch that word in the middle of the list? Goodness. We can only be righteous and display true goodness when we live by the Spirit. Though we start out with the mindset of the flesh, we can have a change in our actions, our fruit. We banish that sinful list of the flesh by overcoming sin and gaining freedom. But how?
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:16-17)
“Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea and everything in them.”
The Lord frees prisoners, opens the eyes of the blind, and loves the righteous.
Let us choose freedom over captivity and bondage.
I pray each of us will choose to live by the Spirit and walk in freedom!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!