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.
|Life in the flesh||Life in the Spirit|
|What is our spiritual state? |
|Death||Life 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? |
|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? |
|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? |
|Cannot please God||(By inference) Pleased with us|