Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation--but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
What a Beautiful passage, it's been so encouraging to think over these verses the last two days, here's a few lessons and thoughts from them:
"Brothers and Sisters" - we are united in Christ - united as his church to each other and we are all equal in him. We are united to him in his death and in his resurrection dying to sin with him and raising to new life with him (and we will rise to eternal life with him also when we die). We need to live like it! Also, if we are united to each other, adopted as God's children and therefore brothers and sisters, we need to love each other and be genuinely concerned for each other - physically, emotionally, spiritually, concerned for each other on all levels. Love other christians regardless of denomination assuming that they accept the true gospel. That doesn't mean we shouldn't discuss issues in theology or that we should gloss over our disagreements, but when we discuss it should be with love and respect and with the bible at the centre of every argument.
"We have an obligation". What to? To obey God. Why? 1. If we have genuinely repented of sin and put our faith in God, we are obliged to show it in our lives and obey. You don't genuinely say sorry for something then keep on doing it, you change if it was a genuine apology. 2. If we have done this, we have been forgiven by God completely, and are obliged to live differently then we used to. 3. We have the Holy Spirit living in us. He is holy, therefore we need to be holy. We should also do it out of love for God, obliged since he loved us and gave his son for us. There are other reasons as well. We owe God so much, we used to be his enemies, slaves to sin, we rebelled (and rebel) against him, we hated him, we rejected him, yet he saw fit to save us - we are obliged to change and live for him. There is no excuse for continuing to sin if we call yourself a Christian. Of course, we stuff up, but we should also be changing and growing in godliness, hating our sin.
"If you" - it is a personal decision. We need to decide who we will follow, what we will trust in and therefore how we will live. No one can make us christians, not one can make you turn to God. You need to make that decision yourself, weigh it up carefully, count the cost for both (Because there is a cost to both) and choose wisely. But at the same time, while we are responsible, God is in control, and no decision of ours can mess up his plan.
"Live according to the Flesh" - according to the sinful nature. If we live according to the sinful nature that means living in sin. Disobeying God. The result of that is death. What are some examples of sin? Lying, stealing, murder, hatred, bitterness, or even just not living for God's glory. What's the result? "You will die". That's satan's goal - he wants us destroyed. Why does sin result in death? Because God is perfect and sin is rebellion to him, and his perfect law condemns us if we sin to death. So in a way, Satan uses God's good and perfect law to achieve his aims. But at the same time, satan has been defeated and God offers salvation through Jesus, forgiveness for sin. So Satan doesn't win - Jesus has the victory and God will be glorified through saving many, and also in justly condemning those who reject him. Don't live according to the sinful nature, don't libe for satan or for self - it leads to destruction! To death. Not just physical death, but spiritual death and therefore God's eternal wrath. That's what our sinfulness deserves. Satan promises the world, but in reality he gives nothing. And even if he does give the world - Matthew 16:26: "What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?" Nothing. It's not worth it. Keep an eternal perspective!
Yet in Jesus there is salvation. He came to earth as a man, though he is God. He lived perfectly, suffered and then died in our place - taking the sin of God's people (Christians) and paying for it in full on the cross. He took God's wrath, the condemnation we deserved. That's why jesus came, thats why he had to die - to deal with our sin. How do we know he dealt with it in full? Well he rose again! He dealt with sin, dealt with the condemnation of God's good and right law in full, and therefore he was no longer condemned for our sakes - he was no longer held by death.
"By the Spirit" - This second part of v13 is the opposite to the first - calling us to live according to God's word. How can we do that? Only by the Spirit. We are powerless to obey God ourselves, we are powerless to put sin 'to death' in our lives. We cannot help ourselves, yet God sends his Holy Spirit to help us, to encourage, rebuke, strengthen and change us. The Holy Spirit, which is given to all believers at salvation, is proof that we are entirely forgiven. How can a holy God dwell in sinful people? He can't. But in Jesus there is complete forgiveness, so we are holy in God's sight, and therefore the Holy Spirit can live in us.
"Put to death the misdeeds of the body." Since we died to sin with Christ and have risen with him to new life (Romans 6), we are now called to put sij to death in our lives. We are called to no longer be slaves to sin, but slaves to God - living sacrifices, without blemish or sin, holy and pleasing to God. Of course, we stuff up, but Jesus saves and forgives when we do. How do we kill sin? We don't feed it. We don't sin, we don't entertain sinful thoughts, we avoid temptation and flee from it. We pray, pray pray and pray more, we rea he bible and draw nearer to God, and we work hard to hate our sin and to love God more. The opposite is also true - we are called to kill sin, therefore we are also called to live godly lives, to obey God and serve him in all we do. How do we do that? Well know and read his word, share the gospel, help the poor and weak, be godly! Be Genuine in your walk with God.
The result? "You will live". Works don't save us, but a genuinely saves person will do good works and we will live - live here for God, live eternally with him in heaven. Live as we were created to live - loving him and for his glory in all things. Live fully, joyfully and full of faith in him.
Trust in God! Love him, worship him alone and serve him! Live for him.