Thursday, April 03, 2014

Turn the dial to "Spirit"

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Romans 8:1-17

TO CHEW ON: "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." Romans 8:5

What a lot is packed into this little verse!
  • It talks about two life orientations:
- Living (or "walking" Romans 8:4) according to the FLESH.
- Living (or walking) according to the SPIRIT.
A footnote in my Bible explains the two: "To walk according to the flesh is to follow the sinful desires of one's old life. To walk according to the Spirit is to live in a way pleasing to Him" - New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1561.

I would submit that this living to the flesh includes following sinful tendencies in ways that may not even appear overtly sinful. It means living as if God did not exist. That is, living by one's own resources and wits.
  • It talks about our thoughts and how they are an indicator of which direction or orientation our lives are moving in. By that measure, I think it's possible for Christians to live "according to the flesh." For when we analyze our thoughts and detect worry, fear, and anxiety, for example, don't they imply a lack of Spirit orientation and dependence? If I truly believed what Paul says later in this chapter — that I am a child of God (Romans 8:15-16) and that all things are working together for good in the process of conforming me to Jesus' image (Romans 8:28-29), would I not have greater peace in even evil-appearing circumstances?
  • It talks about taking control of our thoughts. Paul uses the little word set ("for those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit  (set their minds - implied) on the things of the Spirit.")
[Set = phroneo : means to direct one's mind to a thing, to seek, to strive for; to be of one's party, side with]

Of course it's never as simple as a one-time moving the dial of the mind to SPIRIT and then coasting through life on auto-pilot. For though we do set the dial of our mind to SPIRIT, we need to be constantly alert to its natural tendency to return to the FLESH setting. So initially at least, it takes conscious effort and alertness to live life in a SPIRIT setting — to live secure in the mindset that even when the car won't start, or someone I love is in an accident, or I am diagnosed with a deadly disease, I am God's child. He sees and knows and cares about what's happening to me. He will work it for good in the process of forming my character. I do not need to operate in fear (or envy, or anger, or lust, or any other FLESH setting with which I may struggle).

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to see life areas where I have a self-directed or self-dependent orientation. Please show me how to relinquish these to You and to live my whole life "according to the Spirit." Amen.

MORE: Ammunition

If we think of the mind as a battlefield where flesh thoughts and Spirit thoughts are at war, the best defense against the flesh thoughts that keep popping from their foxholes and spraying their ammo of fear, envy, hatred, lust, anger etc. all through our thoughts, is Bible truth. Memorized Bible verses are the best ammunition. Here is a resource that lists topics. Each topic is linked to Bible verses that apply to it. Choose the area that challenges you then look up and memorize the applicable verses to help set your mind on the things of the Spirit.

"If you have no Scripture memorized, you have no ammunition." - Rick Warren (paraphrased - heard in this video where John Piper interviewed Rick Warren)

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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  1. Violet, "to live secure in that mindset" feels a little like an impossible goal, but that's what the Bible calls us to--and what it promises. We have a lot of spiritual/mental muscle-building to do, and it's a lifetime work. Thanks for this clear and practical call to action.

  2. It is a lifetime work, isn't it! As I watch some of my friends go through really tough stuff (like terminal illness) it seems that often the biggest tests are the final ones.


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