For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:6–11)
So far last Sunday’s readings have focussed on death and resurrection. A similar theme is here in Paul’s letter to the Romans, but he is focussing on something deeper that simply bodily life.
He is looking at life ‘in the flesh’ in contrast to life ‘in the Spirit’. He is asking us to consider spiritual death and spiritual life.
Jesus, when talking to Nicodemus, talked about the need to be ‘born again’ (John 3:3) which caused the old teacher of Israel to scratch his head. Surely you can only be born once! Our Lord was, however, talking spiritually. When someone make the choice to follow Christ, the change in direction is so fundamental that it can be likened to starting all over again.
How can this be? Well, Paul tell us that each and every Christian has the Spirit of Christ dwelling within. This Spirit brings life to bodies long deadened by sin. This life is indestructible, and eventually brings each Christian through the grave into eternity of life in the presence of God.
So it is that ‘eternal life’ begins now. It is not simply some vague, future hope after death but a concrete experience of life before death.
Thanks be to God!