The DEEP

The Frustration

of living according to the spirit.

Romans 8:1-11 (NKJV)

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 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. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

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. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Paul is speaking in the present tense when he says, “And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” Paul is speaking in the future tense when he says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Paul’s point is unmistakable—a Christian’s body is still dead in sin. Your mortal bodies will be given life, but that hasn’t happened yet.

OK, but he also said, “He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 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.” How can we “not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” if our bodies are still dead in sin? Similarly, what does Paul mean by, “those who live according to the Spirit”?

The word that’s translated as “according to” (kata) can be translated as “after” or “with reference to.” This fits with, “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.

The spirit is the “reference” we set our minds on. That’s why we’re so frustrated.


We live according to the Spirit, but we stink at it. That is the normal Christian life.

Okay, but here’s the question—what were you warned about when you were evangelized? Were you warned that you might suffer?

Sure, but were you warned that your own failures would drive you nuts? Were you? It’s supposed to hurt.


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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.