Saturday, July 5, 2008
So Paul, at the end of Romans 7, has just finished his "I don't do what I want to do, but the evil I don't want to do - this is what I do. What a creep I am!" speech. And he says that the only way he (we) is (are) saved from such wretchedness is because of Jesus and what he has done for us on the cross. But how? That's what this week's passage from Romans 8 is about.
The "how" is to live in the Spirit of God. It's all about making the best choice, Paul tells us.
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. (vs 5)
The problem for many of us, is that we still choose to go back to our old life (the flesh) and live in it. What an absurd picture, really: Living in freedom from the old dead life we had, we instead choose to crawl back into a dead body, a carcass, and muck around in it, doing things that slowly drain the Spirit out of us and kill our spirit as well. Why do we do such foolish things? Maybe it is just that we would rather stick with the "known," as bad as it is, than the wonderful "unknown" of the Spirit life. We see real life-images of that all the time. The criminal who offends so he can go back to the knowns of prison rather than live in the unknowns of freedom. The addict who goes back to the horrible known of drugs rather than live in the terrifying but wonderful unknown of sobriety and responsibility. The woman who lives in the miserable known of an abusive relationship rather than leave into an unknown future. Those choices look so clear to those on the outside, and we say, "Are you nuts? Leave! Get a new life!" But in some way, we are no different when we go back to the things we did before we knew Christ.
Paul encourages us to get out of that dead carcass once and for all, and leave it behind. Then live in the unpredictable, confusing, frightening yet wonderful life of the Spirit.