Flesh and Spirit

Posted on 22nd October 2020 under The Rectory Bulletin | Romans


“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 8:9–11)

We’re continuing to look at this pivotal chapter of the New Testament, and now come to one of the important ideas in Paul’s thinking: flesh v Spirit.

Of these two terms the ‘Spirit’ is the easier to understand. What is in mind is the empowering presence of God within us. If you are “in the Spirit” then you are seeking to live your life according to the ways of God, you are experiencing the guidance of the Spirit as you pray and read your Bible. You are, in short, seeking to live a ‘Spiritual’ life.

The “flesh”, on the other hand, is a reliance upon yourself. It is a dependance upon your own accomplishments, and the institutions and values we set up. If the “Spirit” is all about God, then the “flesh” is all about humans. “Flesh” is the thing which we all share. “Spirit” is something we are given.

What Paul is saying here is that the Spirit changes not only your outlook, but also the source of your life. Let’s be honest, the Apostle is blunt! He writes “the body is dead because of sin”! That is why, yesterday, I wrote that there is nothing you can do to put yourself right with God. Instead you have to place your faith in what Christ has done for you, and the way you do that is to live in the Spirit. God gives you all that you need, you simply need to receive the gift.

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