So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death... So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins...who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit...Letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.
I once had a friend who often said that his most fervent wish was "to be as unlike my father as possible." His father, it was true, was an autocratic, mean-spirited, selfish man who made his wife and children miserable. Sadly, as my friend grew older he became more and more like his father--the man he most despised. I found myself wondering what would have happened if he had set his thoughts on what kind of man he wanted to be rather than what he hated.
This passage asserts that whatever we set our minds on will ultimately determine our behavior. Minds set on the flesh lead to death. But the minds set on the spirit lead to life.
Many believers who find themselves enslaved to “do’s and don’ts” may believe they are being transformed to be like Christ. How tragic! God is the source of grace through Christ. “The Law is indeed given through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-17). A legalistic mindset brings perpetual spiritual defeat--an attitude that actually inhibits us instead of setting us free to follow after the Spirit of Life. God’s grace is exhilarating and liberating and leads to genuine holiness and humility.
"Life is both loved and held loosely in the grace of God." Dr. Joy K. Kim
Spirit of Grace, forgive us for sometimes thinking that holiness can be reduced to a list of things we are allowed to do--and things we are not. We do want to bring honor to your name, and we do want to please you. We also want to help others find your exhilarating and liberating grace. Help us to set our minds on things that bring life. Amen