FLESH OR SPIRIT
“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on death, life and peace, what the flesh desires but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:5-8.
But, for Paul, it’s not all good news!
The bad news is that all have sinned. The good news is that Christ died for all. The bad news is that not all people are saved. The good news is that all who believe in Jesus Christ are no longer under condemnation. The bad news is that those who are still following the desires of their fleshly nature are under the sentence of death. The good news is that those whose minds are focussed on the Holy Spirit are alive and at peace with God.
Once the distinction had been between Jew and Gentile because the Jews thought they were better than the Gentiles. They had the law of God and they didn’t worship idols like the Gentiles did, so they thought, so they were favoured by God and the Gentiles were not.
But now the distinction has shifted from race group to faith group. There are still two kingdoms at work, not Jew and Gentile but the kingdom of God and the dominion of Satan. How do we know to which kingdom we belong? It depends on who controls our minds. With who or what are our thoughts preoccupied? Since what we do and who we are begins in the mind, what we think in the end determines our destiny.
The person who is focussed on self; self-indulgence, self-fulfilment, self-gratification, is clearly still living in the realm of the flesh. Selfishness dominates; the world is very small, consisting only of self and those who can contribute to the pleasure and satisfaction of his selfish desires.
The person who has escaped from the clutches of the flesh through believing in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and receiving the salvation He bought for us through His death, has a new focus – the Spirit of God who lives in his heart and enables him to set a new direction in his life. Instead of pleasing himself and satisfying every fleshly whim, he now wants to please God and enjoy God’s peace and do His will.
Life and peace – isn’t that what everyone wants to enjoy? However, the pursuit of life and peace takes people down different paths depending on what they believe. The woman Jesus met at the well outside the village of Scar in Samaria believed the life was about being loved by a man. The path she took to fulfil her desire, however, took her into more and more guilt and shame and left her lonely, dissatisfied and despised by her fellow villagers.
Jesus gently revealed to her that the love she thought that a man would give her, would never satisfy her inner need, because only God’s love and a life lived for Him would bring her the love and peace she craved. Jesus called it “living water”. Drinking deeply of God’s love revealed through the gift of His Son would satisfy her thirsty soul forever…but she had to make a choice. She could not carry on with her old life. It was killing her. She had to turn her back on what she believed and embrace a new faith, a faith in the Messiah she had just met, who came to lead her out of her slavery to sin and into the realm of a new Master
We all have to make the same choice if we are to experience the life Jesus made possible for us, and the inward peace that will hold us steady as we navigate all the stresses and demands of this mortal life. It is impossible to have one foot in each kingdom. It’s either God’s kingdom or the devil’s domain. It can never be both…and…
When you choose God’s way and trust the Lord Jesus, you are on the way to everlasting life!
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