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More Romans Reflections

June 8, 2006

Romans 8:13 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. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

In verse 13, I don’t believe that “living according to the flesh” is the same thing as doing “the deeds of the body”. “Flesh” in Paul doesn’t always mean debauchery. It means anything that is merely human and not of the Spirit. It can even include human moral striving, cf. Philippians 3. That seems to be what Paul means here, because when he does speak of putting to death our sins, he changes his term to “deeds of the body” instead of the expected “deeds of the flesh”. So if living according to the flesh doesn’t mean debauchery here, what does it mean?

The point of the verse is that there are two ways to fight against the [mis]deeds of the body. One is by the flesh, the other is by the Spirit. Living according to the flesh is trying to overcome the sins of the body by law plus willpower. Try this and you will die.

What then is doing it by the Spirit? Check out the parallelism between verses 13 and 15.

living according to the flesh = the spirit of slavery
putting to death by the Spirit = the Spirit of adoption as sons.

Fight sin like a son, not like a slave. Don’t say “No” to sin because you’re afraid of the master’s whip. Say “No” to sin because Papa loves you very much. Only love conquers sin. Legalists are dead meat.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2006 9:30 am

    This is awesome.

    So “living according to the flesh” is essentially what the world means by “trying to be a good person.”

    And Paul is telling us that it won’t work. Amen to that.

    More than ever, I am endeavoring to fight like a son, not like a slave!

  2. June 9, 2006 9:33 am

    so I shouldn’t repeat the old DC Talk jingle from a decade ago:

    “Will Power, The Power to Will Away,

    I liked your phrasing of this in a recent sermon: “anxious striving.” That clicked.

  3. June 11, 2006 10:12 pm

    Fight like a son, not a slave…

    Another thing, when a country or a ruler hires slaves and thugs to fight for it, they are not willing to die for the cause, ya know? They are just hired thugs…

    But we are sons and daughters, willing to die in battle for our Lord, willing to take the battle frenzy on and fight while singing joyfully, laughing at the foe as he falls in a heap of his own blood..

    My sin is my foe, my Jesus is my King, and my sword is at His command, because I love the Father, and I am not a slave anymore…

    Bring it on…–>

  4. June 21, 2006 11:55 am


    Oooh, that’s goooood stuff!–>

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