Life in the Spirit, Life Against the Flesh
September 30, 2018
One of the hardest parts of the spiritual life is dealing with the daily reality that we are in a fight.
Spiritual maturity does not come easily. Sin rarely waves the white flag of surrender. The flesh often proposes a truce with sin and then when terms for its submission are offered, it rebels, subverts, and commits traitorous acts against us. The battle against the flesh and indwelling sin is long and hard.
But the fight against the flesh is also necessary. The Spirit of God is given to the believer at salvation as a down payment promise for our coming full redemption and so that we might know the daily provision and presence of Christ in our lives and for the purpose of equipping us for the fight against sin.
As we have seen in Romans 8, the Spirit of God is given so that we might be freed from the power of sin and death (vv. 2-3) and so that we might increasingly fulfill the requirements of the Law (v. 4). But the fight against sin is not fought only by the Spirit of God; we must work with him against sin and the flesh. We must, as Paul says in vv. 12-13, mortify the flesh — put it to death on a daily basis. The theme of these verses can be simply stated as —
To live in the Spirit is to live aggressively against the flesh.
Or to be alive in the Spirit is to live opposed to every manifestation of the flesh in our lives. Ray Ortlund, Jr. said it well — “But life in the Spirit means killing our sinful impulses. The flesh cannot be refined into holiness. It needs to die.”
[Supernatural Living for Natural People.]
In this passage, Paul explains two realities about our relationship to the flesh —
- If You are in the Spirit, You Have No Obligation to the Flesh (vv. 12-13a)
- A reminder: you have been set free (v. 12)
- A warning: fleshly living will bring eternal dying (v. 13a)
- If You are in the Spirit, You will Mortify the Flesh (v. 13b)
- A definition: what mortification is
- The resource: the power for mortification
- An explanation: How mortification is done
- The hope: the end for those who mortify
Download the rest of this sermon on Romans 8:12-13.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.