“To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law — indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
~Romans 8:6-8 (NRSV).
How dichotomous is this life? We sit on a knife’s edge spiritually, asked as we are to choose: is it to be the sinful nature or the spiritual nature? These two ways are apart as far as the east is to the west, and never will they meet.
But, we vacillate between the two, especially Christians who are at ‘war’ within.
The Ultimate Living Death
Christians sometimes focus too much on death in eternity when perhaps a more real and pressing imperative is death here and now — the experience of deathly life. The sinful nature, ventured into via the release of the flesh desires against God, knows this experience in abundance. There is no peace there! Every person with a conscience knows this all too well, for the times spent there offer no answers to life.
Additionally, there’s the debilitating sense that we’ll never be entirely free of this flesh-held scourge this side of physical death. Eternal life, so far as knowing God is concerned (John 17:3), is deeply conditional upon both our knowledge of God’s will and our will (and ability) to carry that out.
Going Beyond Death into Life
It’s a misrepresentation that upon salvation we’re suddenly ‘relieved’ of this sinful nature. When we read Romans 7 (and other places throughout this great thesis into the gospel of God) we get the distinct impression that the Apostle Paul certainly suggests that. We’re at times beleaguered by the sinful nature.
Salvation by transaction — the ‘ticket’ to heaven — is one thing; salvation as an experience is something totally different.
Going from death into life in the Spiritual realm is a matter of the will tied to the moment. It couldn’t be simpler. This ‘life in the Spirit’ concept is not necessarily, then, anything about us feeling more alive — it’s very basically about trusting and obeying God. It leads to peace. This peace is not felt instantly, for that would not require or generate faith.
Without faith we cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is vindicated accordant to God’s will. When our faith is aligned to the purposes of God’s will it will always be vindicated, eventually.
This Precious Gift
There is one thing we’re assured of from the above passage. If we have life in the Spirit we have a most precious gift — one that’s so completely beyond those who call the gratifications of the sinful nature their god.
This gift is impossible to recognise in the world. It’s visible only in the Spiritual realm. No wonder it doesn’t make any sense to the worldly person. This is why we must always take great care to fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) so we retain the precious gift via our alignment to the knowledge and will of God.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.