Walking According to the Spirit - Part 3

by Wayne Barber

Wayne BarberAs we desire to continue understanding what is involved and what we need to understand when we walk according to the Spirit, we come to verse 9 of chapter 8 of Paul's epistle to the Romans.

To even begin to understand the Christian walk, we must have a clear understanding of our new position in Christ as believers. Paul says in Romans 8:9, "However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit."

Now, the term "in the flesh" is a term that describes a non-believer who does not know Christ, which we all were before salvation. Paul has already brought this up when he talked about what it was like when we were not believers in Christ. Romans 7:5 says, "For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death."

Thank God for His Law, because if it weren't for that Law, mankind would not have seen how truly we were prisoners to our sinful flesh as non-believers. In fact, Paul has just shown us in verse 8 of chapter 8 that "those who are in the flesh cannot please God." What a pitiful condition we all were once in. The non-Christian is in the flesh-he is totally dominated by his sinful flesh. He is totally unable, even with all his religious works, to ever please God. Most of us have forgotten what it was like to be lost without Christ. We forget that those around us that do not know Him are totally controlled by their flesh and have no way out but Christ. Non-believers cannot in any way ever please God by any action of their flesh.

But, a believer is quite a contrast as verse 9 says, "However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you." The Holy Spirit of God comes into the believer the moment that the believer is saved and puts him into a totally different position. Paul has already described this change in Romans 6:1-5. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ as Paul goes on to show in the rest of this verse "But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him."

So a believer is a person who has received Christ into his heart and is now in the Spirit and can never be again in the flesh. If I took a bowl full of red dye, and I took a white cloth and immersed it into the dye, you would have a white cloth immersed into red dye. But you know that there is more to it than that. Not only would you have the cloth in the dye, but now you would have a new cloth because the dye is now in the cloth. You now have a red cloth! A believer is not only in Christ but Christ is in him.

So you can see the glaring contrast between the position of a believer and that of a non-believer. This makes all the difference in the way believers can now live. Believers now have the power within them in the person of the Holy Spirit to walk according to the Spirit and we don't have to walk according to the flesh anymore. There is a glaring contrast between the positions of a believer verses a non-believer.

But, our new position involves a gracious condition. Christ lives in us! Romans 8:10 says, "If Christ is in you." Now, the "if" is a first class condition and means "since". There is no doubt, as we have seen, that a believer has Christ living in him. Christ living in us removes all doubt as to our present and our future. He has come to live in us to do through us what we could never have done. He daily lives in us to deliver us from the power of sin and one day will deliver us from the presence of sin. Paul continues, "though the body is dead because of sin." The word for "body" is the word soma and refers to our physical bodies. The word for "dead" is the word nekros and refers to our bodies being "mortal" and still subject to sin and physical death.

Christ, who is our righteousness, has come to indwell our bodies, yet our bodies are still subject to death. But Paul continues and says, "yet the spirit is alive." The word "spirit" refers to our human spirit. Though our bodies are mortal and subject to death, our spirits are alive because the Holy Spirit lives in us. When these mortal bodies die one day, our spirit will depart to be with Jesus forever. We are eternally alive spiritually because the Spirit of God, The Spirit of Christ, dwells in us. "If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness" (Rom. 8:18, emphasis added).

Paul concludes this passage by saying, "But if [since] the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." Paul begins to unwrap the hope that all believers have of one day seeing Christ and having a glorified body. In a moment, in the twinkling of the eye, we will be changed one day because Christ lives in us and will give life to our mortal bodies.

So before we even begin to talk about walking according to the Spirit, we need to realize the new position we have in Christ. It is a glaring contrast to the lost and has within it a gracious condition that promises an eternal future with Him.

Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico

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