[I believe this is perhaps the most important blog I have ever posted. Even if you think you already know the solution, please read this anyway. It is a powerful concept that I believe has been overlooked or omitted from much church training. Read it slowly and ask to see it with new eyes. I apologize for its length, but its importance made that necessary.]
It is a gloomy picture—the one painted by the Apostle Paul—as he admits with honesty and candor the demise of living in the flesh, enslaved to its deadly longings. Its toxic hold on us is inescapable. There are no trap doors of magical illusions by which we can drop through, fly out, or break free. It is the unsolicited fate of every human being who has ever lived on planet earth—every offspring of Grandpa Adam and Granny Eve. It is our inheritance and it is real.
Paul strategically laid out the case for the wretchedness of man in Romans Chapter 7, and near the end of the chapter it is apparent that all efforts to escape this entanglement have failed. His final evaluation was a clear cry for help: “Who will deliver me from this body of death?”1
Then, without so much as taking a breath, Paul makes a bold proclamation: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! 2
Paul finally recognized that legally, by the finished work of Jesus on the cross, he was rescued from the pronounced judgment of a life controlled by the flesh. I stand right there with him, legally that is, and so does every other believer in Jesus!
In his next statement, with the official rescue already carried out, accepted and now declared, Paul lays out the reality of what we are left with thereafter: “So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”3
With Paul’s “so then” we have a description of the war that ensues, and that will continue based on these two facts: 1) with my mind I serve God; 2) with my flesh I serve sin. That is my condition and yours, as born-again believers. But get ready, the solution to our predicament is just ahead!
Paul opens Romans Chapter 8 with some amazing news: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” 4 These are powerful statements. Let’s not miss any of it!
I have taken the liberty of removing the chapter break and paraphrasing what I heard Paul say:
“I have a horrific problem—I am a slave to sin and I cannot free myself. Who will rescue me from this fatal condition? Thank God, Jesus did! But even though I was rescued legally when I was born again and I now serve God with my mind, I still serve sin with my human nature. But listen up—there is a solution! Although the flesh is condemned, those of us who are in Christ Jesus (born-again) and walk in the Spirit are not condemned. Because of the fact that we are legally free from the law of sin and death, we can overrule our human nature by walking in the Spirit!”
Do you see it? Paul has outlined a two-part solution to being freed from the great sin problem we inherited: 1) our spiritual souls are legally freed from the curse of sin when we accept Jesus Christ, and 2) our physical lives are freed from sin’s control as we walk in the Spirit.
Both are provided through Jesus Christ our Lord. Chapter 8 is rich with proof of this very arrangement. Life in the Spirit is the key to overruling our fleshly nature. That was the plan from the get-go—Christ would return to heaven and send a Helper, who would come to live in believers and empower them to overrule their fleshly nature.5
Many of us are born-again believers, but when we got to Romans 7:25, we made some mental ascent to this great truth, drove down our stake by faith and thought we were done. The problem is we were never taught how to walk in the Spirit. No one told us that unless we moved on into the provisions of Chapter 8, we would continue to live with our sin nature controlling us.
In Galatians 5:19, Paul clearly states this again: “I say then, walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Now let’s reverse it and read it again: “I say then, you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh, if you walk in the Spirit.”
Jesus fully intended that every born-again believer be baptized in the Spirit,6 filled with the Spirit,7 empowered by the Spirit,8 and thereby enabled to live their life by the Spirit.
So what happened to Jesus’ intentions? We will examine. In fact, we have much to examine and explore about walking in the Spirit. Join the exciting journey ahead! ~ Janie Kellogg
1Romans 7:24; 2Romans 7:25a (NIV); 3Romans 7:25b; 4Romans 8:1-2; 5John 16:7-13; 6Acts 1:5; 7Acts 2:4; 4:8; 4:31; 8Acts 1:8 (All other references are NKJ.)