Previously, we learnt about the prologue, people of and promise of Rom 8:1; and how in Rom 8:2-4, we see how only Jesus Christ can give us true life and freedom from sin, by fulfilling the requirements of the law. In this study, we'll look at two different lives that we can live. 


(A) What are the two lives referring to? Life in the spirit and life in the flesh (8:5)

In Rom 8:5-9, Paul shifts from preaching (second-person) to teaching (third-person) so that you understand the message clearly. He elaborates on two types of people -- those who live according to the flesh vs. those who live according to the Spirit. In describing these two groups of people, Paul establishes a key spiritual principle. In verse 5, we notice 2 verbs laid out -- "set" and "live". What is the implicit connection between these 2 verbs? Paul is saying that we live according to what we set our minds on. What does it mean to set? It carries with it the idea of choosing to build upon something only after careful inspection. It is a simple, but very important principle. Many of us think that we are autonomous, self-sovereign, rational human beings, but this is not true. We are the sum of our choices, and so much of who we are is a result of what we chose yesterday. Romans is helping us see that those who live in the Spirit have set their mind on things in the Spirit, and those who do not, have made the choice not to. 

We need to set our minds on something. There's no way we can choose not to set our minds on anything. Yet, many of us have neglected this simple truth. So, what have you set your mind on? What have you fixed your thoughts on? What have you chosen to be the site of your daydreaming, imagination and fantasising? A simple way of identifying it, would be to think about the things that have given you joy, disappointed you, encouraged you or given you hope. After all, Romans 8:5 remind us that the way we live reflect where we have set our thoughts and minds. 

Let's press it a bit further. What is one implication of this verse? If you are a Christian today, it means that there was a time when you lived in the flesh and set your mind on things of the flesh, but there was a turning point to mark the change to the mind, to mark life in the Spirit. It could be that moment when you were 6 and the greatness of God and His love became real and evident when told to you. It could also be that moment at 14 or 18 or 21 when before, church, Bible study, sermons and prayer were boring and did not make sense, but then it did. What marks the Christian and what changes in the mind of a Christian? The Christian sees truths about his or her true state, and has a fundamental awareness of his or her inability to do what God requires. Or, as Timothy Keller aptly describes it, we realise that "we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” The good news of what Jesus Christ did becomes good news indeed, and the truths of the gospel becomes clear and results in transformative actions such as gratitude, forgiveness, love, etc. Dear Christian, does this describe your journey? 


(B) What do they look like? Two ways to live (8:6-8)

Paul goes on to flesh out how these two lives look like. 

Living in the flesh as enemies of God, meant that we were rebellious to the law and did not submit to it. Those in the flesh cannot please God and to set the mind on the flesh is death. This text makes clear why what we perceive as moral failure is actually death. The two spiritual states are also major themes in Paul's writing, and it surfaces again in Eph 2:1-5. There, he presents the stark picture of being dead compared to being alive. These verses show that our best efforts at being and doing good were actually rebelling against him, and acting for the wrong reasons altogether. Romans shows us that failing to meet His standards is not something neutral. The line between life and death is not a standard that we have to meet, and God is not an inflexible examiner or judge. Rather, crossing the line away from life into death is a outright rejection of God. Life in the flesh is not failing an examination, but punching the examiner in the face. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains it in this way: 

"The difference between an unbeliever sinning and a Christian sinning is the difference between a man transgressing the laws of…[the] State, and … a husband [who] has done something he should not do in his relationship with his wife. He is not breaking the law, he is wounding the heart of his wife". 

There is life only in God, and hence, rejecting Him and choosing a life without Him is death. What about you tonight? Once, more, perhaps it is timely to really pause and consider your conversion, and not immediately rush off to application! Would you agree with Paul that you were once dead, disobedient, and by nature, a child of wrath, but now, because of God's rich mercy, have been made alive together with Christ? 


(C) How do I know where I am? Have the Spirit of Christ (8:9)

Let us look at verse 9. Paul switches back to the second-person voice and emphasizes the one criterion that makes a crystal-clear distinction between these two lives. Those who are not in the flesh have the Spirit of God dwelling in them. Another word for "dwell" is the word "tabernacle". Thus, it carries with it the OT picture of God dwelling and setting up home in the midst of His people. As 1 Cor 3:16 tells us, the Spirit of God dwells in the Christian. Here, Paul emphasises the truth that God's Spirit has taken residence in the Christian. He takes the initiative and enables the Christian to live life in the Spirit. In John 14:16-17, we are also told that Jesus asked the Father to give us the Spirit, our Helper who is the Spirit of truth who dwells in us. Isn't this a great comfort to hapless sinners like you and I? 

Notice also the unique wording of verse 9. He describes the Holy Spirit as "the Spirit of God" and "the Spirit of Christ". Paul makes the link and connection between faith from cognitive knowledge -- a mere intellectual belief in the gospel -- and an experience of life in the Spirit. In Eph 1:13-14, we are told that Spirit is given as a guarantee when we hear and believe the good news about Jesus (i.e. knowledge). This is the role of the Holy Spirit -- to draw attention to Jesus. What does this mean practically? It means therefore, that we go to the gospel if we want more of the Spirit. We set our minds on the Spirit, by going back again and again to the gospel, the word of truth and the good news of our salvation. 

How are you living today? If this is new to you, and you're unsure about what you've read, don't hesitate to ask an older Christian in your church (or one of us). After all, it is a matter of life and death. If you are a Christian, this text reminds us to set our mind on the Spirit and live in the Spirit, and a life in the Spirit means that we don't ever graduate from the gospel! Instead we dive deeper and deeper in it, because, as the old hymn goes, in the cross is our glory ever till our raptured soul finds rest beyond the river. 

We'll close with a prayer from the Valley of Vision, entitled A Disciple's Renewal:

Help me. I am so slow to learn, so prone to forget, so weak to climb; I am in the foothills when I should be on the heights; I am pained by my graceless heart, my prayerless days, my poverty of love, my sloth in the heavenly race, my sullied conscience, my wasted hours, my unspent opportunities. I am blind while light shines around me: take the scales from my eyes, grind to dust the evil heart of unbelief. Make it my chiefest joy to study thee, meditate on thee, gaze on thee, sit like Mary at thy feet, lean like John on thy breast, appeal like Peter to thy love, count like Paul all things dung. Give me increase and progress in grace so that there may be more decision in my character, more vigour in my purposes, more elevation in my life, more fervour in my devotion, more constancy in my zeal. As I have a position in the world, keep me from making the world my position; May I never seek in the creature what can be found only in the Creator; Let not faith cease from seeking thee until it vanishes into sight. Ride forth in me, thou King of kings and Lord of lords, that I may live victoriously, and in victory attain my end.

 Life in the fleshLife in the Spirit 
What is our spiritual state?
(Rom 8:6) 
DeathLife and peace

Note: Peace here does not mean an absence of conflict, but reconciliation. We are no longer God's enemies.
What is our view of God?
(Rom 8:7)
 Hostile to God, enmity with Him, resentful of Him (By inference) Loving God

It means praising and exalting God for who He is, and giving Him the glory that is due Him instead of us
What is our view of the law/morality?
(Rom 8:7) 
Rebellious to the law and do not submit to it 
 (By inference) Being thankful for/receptive and submitting to the law

We may not be able to enjoy and obey the law all the time, but the Christian is never able to enjoy and savour sin fully. There will be a part that will know that it is not pleasing to God and the tension of Romans 7will emerge
What is God's view of us?
(Rom 8:8)
 Cannot please God  (By inference) Pleased with us