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April 23

Romans 8:5-17

5 For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit. 6 Now the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it is unable to do so. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him. 10 Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then he who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through his Spirit who lives in you. 12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, 13 because if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. 15 You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” 16 The Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, 17 and if children, also heirs—​heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. — Romans 8:5-17

Fighting The Flesh

by David Shelley
Brentwood Campus

In Romans 8, the Apostle Paul is talking about the internal struggle we all face as believers. I have been following Christ for most of my 52 years of life, and I still struggle every day with the mindset of the flesh. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Every day, something or someone entices us to “think about the things of the flesh” (vs. 5). It might be an annoying ride to work in endless traffic, a co-worker who gets under our last nerve, a temptation to lust or to look at something we know is sinful, the pressure to worry ourselves to death over money or our kids or something else, and so on. All of these things can easily sidetrack us and put us on a downward spiral of sin.

Sometimes we confuse who the true enemy is. Our enemy is not another person, no matter how much they may tempt us. The “flesh” is Paul’s literary device to personify these pressures. It isn’t actually your flesh, or skin, that is the enemy. Our enemy is the mindset that says, “I don’t need God to meet my needs; I’ll meet them myself, doing things my way.” Unfortunately, that is always a recipe for disaster.

So what’s the solution? We must rely on God. In order to overcome the flesh, we cannot rely on ourselves. We can’t “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.” We have to pray and beg God to teach us how to set our minds on the Spirit. In other words, you can only really dwell on one thing at a time, so decide right now that you will dwell on God.

Praxis

  1. Pause right now and ask God to help you walk in the Spirit today. Ask Him to teach you what that means. If it helps you to remember, write yourself a reminder on a post-it note, or on your phone Reminders app, to ask God to help you walk in the Spirit each day.
  2. For background reading, examine how Jesus dealt with the temptations of the flesh in Luke 4:1-13.