“Those who live according to the Spirit”

5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. (Romans 8:5-9)

The Christian places hope in Christ and in no other. He lives according to the Spirit, not according to the flesh. This means that he lives by faith, not by sight; by faith, not by emotion; by God’s Word, not by feeling; by the Word of the Lord, not by circumstance.

Only the Christian has true freedom, for He is not enslaved to the Law. He is enslaved to Christ, who has freed Him from the threats and condemnations of the Law. Now, on account of Christ Jesus, the Christian seeks to please God by and in what he does. And the Christian is pleasing to God, because of Christ Jesus.

The nonChristian, the nonbeliever, is not in such a state as the Christian before God. He walks by the flesh, led by his sinful desires and lusts. He seeks to merit God’s favor by what he does, not by faith. But it is only by faith that one pleases God—through faith in His Son whom He sent to redeem sinners.

LUTHER

When I have this righteousness within me, I descend from heaven like the rain that makes the earth fertile. That is, I come forth into another kingdom, and I perform good works whenever the opportunity arises. If I am a minister of the Word, I preach, I comfort the saddened, I administer the sacraments. If I am a father, I rule my household and family, I train my children in piety and honesty. If I am a magistrate, I perform the office which I have received by divine command. If I am a servant, I faithfully tend to my master’s affairs. In short, whoever knows for sure that Christ is his righteousness not only cheerfully and gladly works in his calling but also submits himself for the sake of love to magistrates, also to their wicked laws, and to everything else in this present life—even, if need be, to burden and danger. For he knows that God wants this and that this obedience pleases Him. (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p11)

PRAYER: Gracious Father, thank you for sending Your only begotten Son. Grant me your Spirit, that I not walk according to the flesh and profane Your Holy Name, but willfully and joyfully serve you all my days, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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