Saturday in the Sixteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Romans 8:9-11

But We Are Not in the Flesh

Paul continues speaking of being in the flesh and being in the Spirit, living according to the flesh and living according to the Spirit, setting one’s mind on things of the flesh and setting one’s mind on things of the Spirit.  And there is no question but that these are completely contrary categories, flesh and Spirit.  By “flesh,” Paul means our sinful nature as it is enticed by means of the world; it includes everything that is not of God.  By “Spirit,” Paul means minding the things of the Spirit of God, heavenly things, things having to do with goodness, truth, and beauty as God created them.  Paul made it clear in the previous passage that believers follow the Spirit and unbelievers the flesh.

And he capitalizes on that same teaching now as a means to encourage these Roman Christians: “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit.”  Granted, Paul continues, “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 there again he is contrasting two groups of people who are completely different in God’s eyes: those who have believed in Him through faith in His Son and those who have not.  There lies no in between.  But he is sure that these Romans are living in the Spirit.  The next phrase, “But if Christ is in you,” expresses not doubt but simply states the case.

And as people who are in Christ, our bodies indeed are dead because of sin in the sense that they will one day die (they are dying now), but we live because of the Spirit who lives in us.  (Incidentally, please note how easily Paul moves from speaking of the Spirit of God living in us to the Spirit of Christ living in us to Christ living in us and back to the Spirit living in us.  Christ and the Spirit are not the same, but as one God acting in the world, work together in our salvation such that we are inhabited by all three; Christ speaks of himself being in us and the Father being in him, John 17:23).  And though our bodies are good as dead because of sin, God does not leave them in the grave but promises that the Spirit who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also “give life to [our] mortal bodies” on the last day by virtue of the very fact that he resides within us.

And so this is the assurance of the believer: that he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit who makes his presence felt within him by comfort or conviction, by calling us to prayer and praying himself within us (8:26), and by urging us to godliness.  Indeed, walking by the Spirit is the believer’s only peace.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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