Strange title? Maybe… or maybe not!
I was reading in a small men’s (men of all sizes actually) S.O.A.P bible study this morning Romans 8: 1-17. I recently purchased this amazing parallel bible that gives me the NIV on the left hand and the message paraphrase on the right of the same verses.
I have always loved this passage because of the freedom in the spirit of Christ that it reveals. However, some new words and thoughts occurred to me this morning as we read it together.
The first part is a great contrast between choosing to “live in” the Spirit or “live in” the desires of the flesh. It then quickly sets us free that we are not “controlled by” by the flesh if we have the Spirit within us. However verses 12 – 15 jumped out at me today as I looked at both the NIV version and the Message paraphrase.
NIV – “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
MESSAGE-“So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.”
We could debate the legalism that comes from a word like “obligation,” but I would rather focus on the freedom this passage screams at us that we CAN live in the Spirit and this life is not reduced to grave tending of our “old man — flesh” and making sure the zombie doesn’t rise up.
The passage is speaking to the root of our understanding of the gospel. Do we really believe that we are not controlled by the desires of our flesh? Do we understand that we have the freedom and power to live in His Spirit and that this life is ABUNDANT, and full of joy and adventure with our heavenly Father? Or, maybe we were told somewhere along the way that our Christian life was changing our behaviors and trying not to sin anymore — “putting to death our old flesh” and living out our lives as grave tenders. We are to continually put our sinful desires to death, but this is way beyond behavior modification.
By no means is this the only thing this passage talks about — but it is the portion that jumped out at me today and is causing me to face this week with an expectant childlike faith that longs to live in His Spirit and live in His freedom.