“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.”
~Romans 8:11 (NRSV)
What is the test that the Spirit dwells within us?
That is a primary condition raised in this particular passage, in a chapter of Romans loaded with concepts regarding life in the Spirit. Access to being raised from the dead is contingent on it. The Holy Spirit must dwell within. And how might that reality play out so we may see it?
It comes down to the previous verses. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds there, whilst those who live according to the Spirit—discerning and obeying the will of God as best they can—have their minds there (verses 5-10). Never really does the twain meet, though we’re all given to the priory of both.
And this is the point of much of Paul’s writing. A battle ensues between the flesh and the Spirit in those who have the Spirit. Though we’re raised, once-for-all-time, this Spirit will (need to) raise us again and again.
The Battle That Rages
We’re fooled if we think that being Christian saves us from everyday sin. A battle rages each and every day between our flesh and the Spirit that indwells us. We ought to be thankful we have a Spirit to contend for us in the midst of our carnal desires.
What a great advantage we have!
We’re rendered Power and are not simply blind, and therefore powerless, to the striving of the flesh. Having an acute awareness of our depravity is a key in unveiling ever more power, because, in that matter, the truth is honoured—and our worship is complete (John 4:24). The truth cannot condemn us, but the scheming of the flesh often does.
And this is our chance to live the sanctified life.
The more we allow the Holy Spirit to purge us through the agency of truth the more new life we experience. But every day the battle continues. Occasionally we bury the truth or cannot handle dredging it up or being held to account. On those days the flesh has its little win; but we’re still comprehensively owned, loved, and fortified by the indwelling Spirit, if Jesus has saved us once-for-all-time. The transaction required is repentance; that same vehicle that took us to salvation in the first place. As Christians we need to be experts at humble repentance. Our chief habit is to be turning back to God.
The war between flesh and Spirit is tantalising in the believer. We live in a battle between two worlds every day. Our living for Christ is a great threat to the flesh, which Satan desires to own. But the indwelling Spirit will win the ultimate battles per our timely surrender. In this, as our Saviour was, we’re raised—each time, to new life.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.