Thursday

But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (v. 9)

Romans 8:1-11 Thursday 9 June 2022

Background

Probably the most important, small word in Paul’s writing is ‘in’. He uses this tiny word to help us think about where we are, either in the sphere of Christ, the Spirit and life; or in sin, death and the flesh. When Paul uses the word 'flesh', we have to be careful because he doesn’t always use it in the same way. Sometimes it is used neutrally to describe the stuff we are made of and in other places, like here, to describe our ability to sin or perhaps as he describes in 7:14  onwards, our inability not to sin. Those who live in the sphere of Christ, the Spirit and life are given some excellent news in verse 1 because for them, there is no condemnation; a liberating truth which seems to be at the heart of their freedom from sin and death.

Paul also talks about setting our mind on either the things of the flesh or the things of the Spirit, but he does not make it clear if setting our mind on one or the other is a consequence of living in that sphere or the means to live in that sphere. But it seems this is the wrong question because in Colossians 3:1 Paul suggests that living in the sphere of Christ and the Spirit is the reason rather than the means for setting our minds in this place. As it says, "So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above."

Another word for the sphere of life, Christ and the Spirit might be 'the Resurrection life’ in which the power of the Resurrection of Jesus is present in this life and the next. Paul describes in the last verses of this section how our mortal bodies will be given life through the Spirit, reminding us again that our bodies are not in themselves sinful. The issue is not that our bodies are bad and the Spirit is good, it is instead about where we live. Do we live in the flesh or in the Spirit?

 

To Ponder:

  • What difference, if any, does it make to you that "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus"?
  • What does it mean "to set your mind on the things of the Spirit"?
  • Does the practice of mindfulness have anything to say about this?
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