Romans 8: A Retrospection, Part 2. Walking Rightly

So, then brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Romans 8:12-14).

At its root, Christianity is a phenomenally simple religion. While other religions go to great lengths and into great detail about how a man by his own power might reach the divine, Christianity offers no such prescription. Instead, according to Christianity, a man can live one of two ways–he can live according to himself and in his own power or he can live according to the Spirit and in God’s power. There is no middle ground, and the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:4-17 goes to great lengths to make this extremely clear.

The nature of Christianity’s simplicity is found not in man but in God. The Christian religion is unlike every other religion in that is fully accomplished by its End, which is to say that God brings the Christian to himself. Thus when the Apostle writes, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God,” it is tantamount to saying, “Those who live apart from the Spirit of God and his power cannot please God.” For there is no satisfaction in the Father save in the Son, whom he crucified so that “the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

The expression, “walking according the Spirit,” carries with it significant connotations. It is first a conformity. All men are said to be walking in accordance to one way or Another. And it is not the destination to where one is walking that is significant in these verses (though there is indeed a destination), but it is the manner in which he walks. A man can either walk in the manner of his flesh (which is in accordance to his own desires and aspirations), or he can walk in the manner of the Spirit. The manner of the Spirit is said to be the fulfillment of the law and righteousness (v. 8:4) and to be the way of life and peace (v. 8:6).

Walking according the Spirit is secondly an activity. A man who is walking is not at any point standing still. Therefore all men at all times are participating in activities that are either according to the flesh or according to the Spirit. These activities, by the Apostle’s testimony, are not isolated incidences in a person’s life, but they are a declaration of his final destination. The Apostle writes, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Therefore, the activities in which a person consistently participates demonstrate his final end–either fleshliness leading to destruction or Godliness leading to regeneration.

Finally, this activity has a very particular manifestation. The Apostle writes, “If you by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body you will live.” In other words, walking according to the Spirit means ultimately to put to death the deeds of the body through the power of the Holy Sprit and thereby pursue righteousness. There is no other prescription. Either one lives through the power of the Spirit and actively crucifies the deeds of the flesh, or he lives in his own power and pursues the things of the flesh. This manifestation clearly shows whether one is being led by the Spirit of God and therefore a son of God (v. 8:14) or whether he is led by his flesh and therefore an enemy of God.

How do you walk? Do you walk according to Spirit of God and strive for righteousness, or do you walk according to the flesh and pursue your own personal desires? Know that your answer to this question will show you where your final destination will be.



Categories: Theology

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