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. Romans 8:5 (NIV)
Read: Romans 8:1-17
Consider: Romans 8 opens with a verse that encapsulates the message of sins forgiven in these words: ‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus …’ (8:1). However, the verse does not end there; it continues: ‘… because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives you life has set you free from the law of sin and death’ (8:2). Some people resist God’s call because they imagine that they would be giving up earthly pleasures for a life bound by ‘Thou shalt not …’ and other restrictions. Notice that in Romans 8 Paul tells us that Jesus has freed us from the law of sin and death. I like what Jesus himself says in John 8:36 – So if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed. Jesus does not free us from one set of rules, just to impose another set. He does not free us from the legalism and dogmatism of man-made rules, just to have another set of man-made rules imposed on us.
Paul elaborates on this in his letter to the Galatians when he says: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Some might take the view that the freedom we have in Christ frees us from all restrictions. However, this is not the case. We are indeed free from the wrath of God (the consequences of sin that leads to death), but we are now free to serve God in the way that brings him glory. In Galatians 5:13 we read: You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. We are to use our freedom constructively in God’s service. In Peter’s first letter he says: Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves (1 Peter 2:16). This is the difficulty; how do we live as a free person and what should characterise such a life? In the verse above, Peter emphasises love and humility.
Returning to today’s reading from Romans 8 we read: 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 (Romans 8:5). Paul emphasises what controls us – our minds. Is it things of the flesh, or is it things of the Spirit? Some years ago young people were wearing bracelets with the letters WWJD on them; WWJD meaning ‘What would Jesus do?’ That is not a bad start when seeking to have our minds set on what the Spirit desires. Of course, reading and studying the Bible has a major effect on our minds that might seem imperceptible at first, but will gradually influence our thinking positively. Setting aside time for prayer will also have a positive effect on our mindset. Prayer should include adoration (worship and praise) of who God is, confession of any sins and asking for God’s mercy and forgiveness, thanksgiving for God’s continued blessings, intercession for the needs of others who are in need and petition where we ask God for specific things for ourselves.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Romans 8:14, 16).
Pray: Father, may we use the freedom we have in Christ to serve you humbly and faithfully. Purify our hearts and minds so that we are open to the leading of the Spirit. May we always seek to do your will and live as free children of God. Amen