The Spirit and the Body
A daily devotion for September 23rd
8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[a] because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[b] his Spirit who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Romans 8:10-11
Notice the helpful teaching about the Spirit here. He is called the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ. Then it is made clear that the Spirit actually is the means by which Jesus Christ himself is in us. By means of the Holy Spirit, Christ is in you. And if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin.
The problem is, our bodies are yet unredeemed. As a consequence, they are the seat of the sin that troubles us so. And the sin that is in us — still there in our bodies — affects the body. That is why the body lusts, the body loves comfort, and the body seeks after pleasure; that is why our minds and attitudes react with hate and bitterness and resentment and hostility. Sin finds its seat in the body. That is why our bodies keep growing old. They are dying, dead, because of sin.
But that is not the final answer for the Christian. The spirit in the Christian is alive because of the gift of righteousness. Christ has come in and we are linked with him. Paul puts it so beautifully in Second Corinthians 4:16:
Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. That is the joy of being a Christian. Though the body, with the sin that is within it, is giving us trouble and difficulty, tempting us, confounding us at times, nevertheless, the spirit is alive because of righteousness. Sin has its seat in the actual physical body, and it rises up like a powerful beast. But we have an answer. It is put very beautifully in First John 4:4:
The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world, (1 John 4:4). The Spirit of God within us is stronger than the sin that is in our bodies. Therefore in Christ, we have strength to control the body.
Unfortunately, many of the commentators say that verse 11 refers to the promise of the resurrection at the end of life, when God is going to make our bodies alive. But that is not what Paul is saying. He is talking about the Spirit in us, giving life to our mortal bodies. A mortal body is not yet dead. A mortal body is one that is subject to death. It is dying, but it is not yet dead. Therefore, this is not talking about the resurrection. Later on Paul will come to that, but here he is talking about what the Spirit does in us now. He says that though sin in our mortal bodies is going to tempt us severely, and at times rise up with great power, we must never forget that because our human spirit has been made alive in Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of God himself dwells in us, we have the strength to say,
No! to that expression of evil.
We cannot reverse the processes of death — no one can. Our bodies are going to die. But we can refuse to let the members of our bodies become the instruments of sin. We can refuse, by the power of the Spirit within, to let our members be used for that purpose: We don't have to let our eyes look at wrong things. We can say,
No. We don't have to let our tongues say evil, hurtful, sarcastic, and vicious things. We can say,
No, to that. We don't have to let our ears hear things that are hurtful. We don't have to let our hands be used for wrong purposes. We don't have to let our legs and feet lead us into places where we ought not to be. We have been made alive in Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of God himself dwells in us!
Father, you have made me alive through your Spirit. Teach me to yield to him rather than to my flesh.
Life Application: Describe the radical differences between the two mind sets. What are the two different sources of power controlling them? What response to sin's slavery is characteristic of those who are led by the Spirit of God? What is the result of choosing to live according to the sinful nature? Shall we then choose Life?
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