The Christian Life Essay

3869 words - 16 pages

The Christian Life
The Book of Romans is what Martin Luther called the most important letter that Paul ever wrote. The theological arguments and implications of Romans are far-reaching and the many topics are interconnected and entirely consistent with one another in argumentation and style. Within this cogent and comprehensive theological statement of belief and faith, Paul writes extensively on what it means to live a Christian life. He combines his understanding of the fall of humankind, the Old Testament law, and the fulfillment of the law in Jesus Christ with the post-Pentecostal period where the Holy Spirit dwells in believers who have professed their faith in Jesus as ...view middle of the document...

This is a key point on which Paul elaborates in the following verses. Paul writes, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” Here Paul builds on the idea of the mind as slave by arguing that the mind will always have a governor or leader, and that leader will be the body or the Spirit. In the absence of the Spirit, furthermore, the person is helpless to resist the flesh and cannot (rather than will not) “submit to God’s law.” Moo makes the point that the person who does not have the Spirit indwelling has sin indwelling and is thus ruled by sin in the same way that the believer is ruled by the Spirit. Because the person is internally ruled by sin, Paul writes that “those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” Therefore, the believer relies on the Spirit for everything that God intends for the believer’s life because if it were not for the Spirit the believer would be helpless to sin and powerless to obey God.
It is important at this juncture to explore further what Paul means by “flesh” and “Spirit” in this context. Kaylor makes the point that these words can have a variety of meanings, varying from ‘flesh’ as earthly life to ‘flesh’ as the alienated state of being separated from God. ‘Spirit’ can vary from meaning a human’s personal quality to the human spirit generally to the Holy Spirit. In the context of Romans 8, Paul intends ‘flesh’ to mean the state of separation from God wherein earthly desires and passions such as bodily sensations, emotions, and conflicted actions and behaviors rule the person’s life. Spirit is meant to refer to the Holy Spirit that indwells a believer who has accepted Jesus as Savior. Paul shows this in various ways throughout the letter, but an excellent example is Romans 13:14 where Paul writes, “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” In verses 11-13, Paul has described various desires of the flesh, including carousing, dissension, sexual immorality, and drunkenness. As believers accept Jesus as their Savior in faith, they are clothed in Jesus’s protective embrace and they simultaneously have the Spirit within them to guide them toward obedience. Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, then, believers are no longer separated from God, in the state of alienation and separation of sin, because God lives within them.
Furthermore, the slavery to the Spirit that Paul describes for the believer is far from the type of bondage suffered by sinners; rather, it is a freedom from sin and a freedom to live in obedience to God. Paul writes in Romans 6:22, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” Implied in this statement is the idea that the life of sin and...

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