6 Minute Read + Scripture readings
(If you want to listen to an audio version of today’s blog post, simply go to https://anchor.fm/mattellis1997, or search for “Reflections on Truth” by Matt Ellis wherever you download your favorite podcasts.)
Today’s Bible Reading:
Today’s Bible Verse(s):
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.”
Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):
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 deeper than the bottom of the ocean.
Let’s begin by defining “flesh.” While the Bible sometimes uses “flesh” to describe a mortal body, that’s not what it’s talking about here.
“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 comfort 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 ways that are often sinful because they are not rooted in God.
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. 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 and how are you trying to meet them?” 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.
However, if the desires and the satisfaction of 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 we will save that for another time. 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. It’s at https://www.cru.org/. At that webpage, search for “How You Can Be Filled with the Holy Spirit.”
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Lord Jesus, thank You that I am not left to myself as I try to live my life for You. Thank You that You have given me Your Spirit and that Your Holy Spirit can fill me to equip me and empower me to live the life You’ve called me to live. Help me to realize my need of the Spirit’s filling so that I’m motivated to do whatever it takes to be regularly filled with Him. Amen.