“The spirit of a man is the candle of the Lord.” –Proverbs 20:27
Walking by the Spirit is what we do when the desires of the Spirit are stronger than the desires of the flesh.
You don’t owe the flesh anything. You owe the Spirit of God everything. He is going to make you alive in the resurrection, and even now, you can only have victory over your sins “by the Spirit.”
Until you believe that life is war that the stakes are your soul you will probably just play at Christianity with no blood-earnestness and no vigilance and no passion and no wartime mindset. If that is where you are this morning, your position is very precarious. The enemy has lulled you into sleep or into a peacetime mentality as if nothing serious is at stake.
If you want to know that you are a child of God, you don’t put your ear to the Holy Spirit and wait for a whisper; put your ear to the gospel and your eye to the cross of Christ and you pray that the Holy Spirit would enable you to see it and savor it for what it really is.
You don’t owe the flesh anything but enmity and war. It’s been trying to kill you since the day you were born. Don’t join forces with your enemy and pay for your own destruction by giving in to the flesh. You are not a debtor to the flesh.
“If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.” You owe your final resurrection life to the Spirit, and the perseverance you need to make it to the resurrection as a believer in war with sin, you owe to the Spirit. If you try to survive as a Christian in any other way than “by the Spirit,” you will not survive. You will die.
“You don’t owe the flesh anything. You owe the Spirit of God everything.”
“If by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Do you want to enter into life? Do you want to live? Get violent. Get a wartime mindset. Stop making peace with ears and eyes and tongues and hands and feet that betray you like Judas, and go over to the side of the enemy and become instruments of sin and make war on your soul. Put to death the deeds of your body.
Do you want to enter the kingdom of heaven?
Take it violently!
“If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire” (Mathews 18:8)
The Violent Life Warfare
If we live by the Spirit, then let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us acknowledge from our heart that we are unable to please God without the Spirit’s constant enablement. Let us pray for that enablement. Let us trust confidently in the Spirit’s power and promise to give that enablement.
There is a mean, violent streak in the true Christian life. It’s a violence against all the impulses in us that would be violent to other people. It’s a violence against all the impulses in our own selves that would make peace with our own sin and settle in with a peacetime mentality. It’s a violence against all lust in ourselves, and enslaving desires for alcohol or pornography or money or the praise of men and the approval of others or power or fame. It’s violence against the impulses in our own soul toward racism, tribalism and sluggish indifference to injustice and poverty and abortion.
If by the Spirit you kill the deeds of your own body, you will live. Christianity is war on our own sinful impulses
What are we to kill?
“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:12-14)
They are those deeds that we are about to do – you kill them before they happen – when our bodies are “instruments or unrighteousness.” When the mortal body is taken captive by sin and made to obey lusts, then and there we see “deeds of the body” that should be put to death.
“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6)
This is a distinctively Christian truth about killing the sinful actions of the body, namely, in union with Jesus Christ by faith alone, you are already dead to sin and alive to God, and what you are doing when you put to death the deeds of the body is becoming in practice what you are in Christ. When Christ died, we died in him and we demonstrate this death by putting to death the sinful deeds of the body. Because we already have the victory we can succeed in our violence against sin.
“But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” (Mathews 15:18-20)
Sinful deeds have a lifeline that must be cut. You kill the bad fruit by severing the bad root.
The great problem in contemporary Christian living is not learning the right things to do but how to do the right things. To get to the place in your life where you can be led by the Spirit of God, you must first be able to recognize His voice. This comes from not only prayer and reading the Word of God, but by also meditating on the Word of God, which is one of the ways to be led by His Spirit.
“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:5-6).
Putting to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit involves setting the mind on the things of the Spirit. You don’t just look at the temptation and say no. You do that – But if you are going to put it to death by the Spirit, you have to do more: you direct your mind, your heart, your spiritual focus to the – things of the Spirit.
“This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:13-14).
Here “the things of the Spirit” are the words of God spoken by the apostles – embracing the words of God and the reality they point to. The word of God is called the sword of the Spirit in the bible (Ephesians 6:17) and that is what we are to do – Kill the deeds of the body by the Spirit, that is by fixing your mind on the things of the Spirit, that is, by welcoming and embracing the word of God in your mind and heart.
To become a doer of the Word of God, determine in your heart to do everything you see written in it. That means you alter your lifestyle to fit the Word instead of trying to alter the Word to fit your lifestyle. You don’t make excuses; you don’t try to change what the Bible actually says to suit your own fleshly desires.
Our lives can sometimes feel like constant noise voices from every side influencing the way we think and feel. But, in the midst of it all, there is one voice we need to hear the most—the voice of God.
So immerse your mind and heart in the fountain of truth and life and power, the promises of God, and when the temptation comes, take this satisfying word, this sword of the Spirit, and believe it, and by it sever the root of sin. Kill it.