July 23: “What Does It Mean to Be ‘In The Spirit?’”

5 Minute Read


2 Chronicles 8:11–10:19
Romans 8:9-25
Psalm 18:16-36
Proverbs 19:26


Romans 8:8-9 (CSB) “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him.”


OK. You’re probably reading this in the morning and you may only be on your first cup of coffee. So, let’s keep this reasonably lite even though the truths found in these two verses are so deep that they could take us to the bottom of the ocean.

Let’s begin by defining “flesh.” It’s not talking about skin. It’s not talking about our physical body.

“Flesh” is referring to the source of the sinful desires within us. Someone who is lost is always “in the flesh” because their desire is to satisfy the sinful cravings within them. This isn’t to say that lost people are as sinful as they can be. It simply means that they are regularly compelled to satisfy their sinful desires.

Whether it is a desire to be looked up to by others (pride), or eat far too much (gluttony), or take a shortcut to intimacy (pornography), or find respite apart from God (too much time with television or mobile device), or any number of other things, the flesh drives people to dead end roads. Rather than comply with God’s rules and truly see Him as the one who can ultimately satisfy us, the flesh tries to satisfy internal desires in sinful ways.

A Christian can certainly be “in the flesh,” too. Even though we have surrendered our life to Jesus, we periodically (maybe frequently) indulge our (sinful?) desires and break God’s laws to our own harm.

So, what does it mean to be “in the Spirit?”

It means that we are motivated and controlled differently. Rather than our desires coming from our “flesh,” they come from the Holy Spirit. Both are within us (see the end of the Verse for Today). But, one leads us down a dead-end road and the other leads us to life.

How do you know if you are “in the Spirit?”

The answer to that begins with another question: “What kind of cravings are you desiring to meet?” If those desires are primarily self-focused, they are of the flesh. If they are primarily God-centered and others-centered, then they are probably of the Spirit. If satisfying those desires would go against a principle(s) found in Scripture, they are of the flesh. If satisfying those desires complies with God’s Word, then they are probably of the Spirit.

How do I get “in the Spirit?”

This is a huge question and the answer is long enough to write a book about but let me be brief…

Realize that God has a part in it and you have a part in it. You are commanded to be filled with (controlled by) the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). When you comply with God’s stipulations, He will do His part.

To be filled, you must be emptied of everything else. Being filled with the Spirit means that we are emptied of sin and the desire for self-rule. Not only are all of our sins forgiven because we have done the work of confessing and forsaking them, we also have our hands up in surrender. We surrender everything of us to Jesus’ authority and control and our desire is to do whatever He wants us to do.

There is SO much more about this topic but this post is already long enough. If you want to dig a little deeper into this, let me recommend a helpful website where you can read a little further. It’s from the late Bill Bright’s ministry, Campus Crusade for Christ, and I agree with virtually everything on the page that you can access by clicking here.


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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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