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BIBLE STUDY - THE CRUCIAL CHOICE:  FLESH OF SPIRIT

 

 
 

 

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. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Rom 8:5-6)

 

The crucial choice that believers in Christ face day by day is between living by the flesh or living by the Spirit. The difference concerns facing life by our resources and perspectives or by God's. "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." When a Christian deals with life by his flesh, he typically thinks about "what I want out of my life" or "what I can accomplish with my life." Conversely, when a Christian deals with life by the Spirit, he typically thinks about "what God wants for my life" or "what God can accomplish through my life."

 

The consequences related to this choice are monumental. "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." When a believer allows his mind to be set in a carnal direction, he will be thinking about worldly self-indulgence ("what I can get out of this") or religious self-accomplishment ("what I can do for God"). The result of either carnal perspective is "death" (spiritual deadness). On the other hand, when a follower of Jesus sets his mind on heavenly matters, he will be considering issues of humility ("how much I need the Lord") or faith ("how great the Lord is"). The results of such spiritual thoughts are "life and peace" (spiritual vitality and spiritual tranquility).

 

Another analysis of these two options can be seen in the contrast between the "works of the flesh" and the "fruit of the Spirit." When we put our hope in our own capabilities, our flesh produces deeds such as "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like" (Gal 5:19-21). Contrariwise, when we place our expectations upon the Lord, His Spirit brings forth through us fruit like "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal 5:22-23).

 

Consider this fundamental truth. These "flesh-Spirit" choices are what all of us will face every day of our lives. The persistency of these issues is inherent in the fact that God only offers two options for every issue of life; namely, "live according to the flesh" or "live according to the Spirit."



More on the Crucial Choice: Flesh or Spirit

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Gal 6:7-8)

 

One of the unchangeable aspects of being a Christian is that God offers only two choices for all of the issues that we will encounter day by day; namely, "live according to the flesh" or "live according to the Spirit." (Rom 8:5). Also, the consequences accompanying these options are inevitable, because of the certainties of sowing and reaping. "Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." When an apple seed is planted, an apple tree is the only possible plant that can result. Whatever category of seed is put into the ground, that is the only type of crop that can ever be reaped.

 

Our present passage reveals that these agricultural absolutes apply just as certainly to the planting of spiritual seeds in our lives. We only have two types of seeds to plant ("flesh" or "Spirit"), leading to only two types of harvest ("corruption" or "everlasting life").

 

The first set of seeds and harvest offers an ominous warning. "He who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption." The seeds in view here are words, deeds, and attitudes that would range from self-service to self-sufficiency. The harvest predicted from these carnal seeds is described as" corruption." This speaks of destruction and decay. For a person whose entire life is only characterized by sowing "to his flesh," this destruction would be eternal. This would depict one who never planted any seed of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Such a one would die in sin and guilt, separated from God for eternity. For a born again believer, who persistently or intermittently yields to carnal temptations, this would warn of subsequent loss of spiritual vitality and fruitfulness on earth now, plus loss of heavenly blessings later.

 

The second set of seeds and harvest extends an encouraging expectation. "But he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." The seeds referred to here are words, deeds, and attitudes that result from us humbly depending upon the Spirit of God to work in and through us. This brings an increasing spiritual crop described as "everlasting life." This would be similar to Jesus' statement: "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (Joh 10:10). This promises fullness of life now, and great rewards in glory later.


O merciful Father, I humbly repent of the innumerable occasions when I sowed fleshly seeds in word and deed. The crop that resulted was always destructive. Thank You for cleansing me through the blood of Christ. Now, Lord, by faith I ask You to bring forth through my life a new harvest of spiritual abundance, by Your Holy Spirit, Amen.

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