“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Romans 8:5
There was some danger that some of those reading yesterday’s post might come away with the idea that we are so controlled by either sin or the Spirit that we have no choice in how we live our lives. This is, however, not the case. A study of the role that God plays in the life reveals that while He is God and King, and Lord and Savior, and deserves to have absolute authority in every person’s life, he gives himself only the power to influence our choices. Never does he control them. And he also ensures that no other power is able to exert more than the power of influence over the choices we make.
Any sincere Christian could attest to the truth of this claim. We have all, within us, a desire to live a pure life, loving and honorable in the sight of God, yet everyday we find ourselves choosing to do things that we must later repent of and ask forgiveness for. And it’s not that we’re always ignorant of the fact that what we’re choosing is wrong. Sometimes we know good and well that we are sinning and we still choose to ignore our consciences and what we know is right and do the wrong anyway. This universal experience among sincere Christians demonstrates that being filled with the Spirit doesn’t mean that our free will to choose for ourselves regarding any action is taken away.
Yet the lives of believers are still different from the lives of the nonbeliever and this is not always the result of conscious choice. I’ve found that even many of my reactions and responses that come so fast I’m hardly aware of them before I’m doing them have been changed for the better. Romans 8:5 reveals why this is happening, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Because we have chosen to “set our minds” to think and respond along certain lines and according to certain values and patterns we naturally follow the pattern we have chosen. Only sometimes when an actual decision is needed or desired do we stop to think and choose.
What is needed now as we choose which master we will serve is to do what Paul advises in Colossians 3:2, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” If we do this we are choosing to react and respond as God would want us to. And with the Holy Spirit’s help we can do this. Every minute. Every day