Life In The Flesh Or Spirit

The Test 

Romans 8:1-9


“There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death. 3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5For they that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace: 7because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be: 8and they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. But if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”.


Without going into our text contextually at this time, the facts regarding the nature of man are recognized in Romans 8:9.

“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”


The essential nature of man is revealed by the terms "flesh" and "spirit" Human nature is a combination of flesh and spirit.    Paul referring to the whole of man in the great prayer to the Thessalonians stated   1 Thess 5:23

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”.  That is a recognition of man’s nature,  he is spirit and he is flesh.  Spirit, soul, body, all comprehensive expressions by which the whole human personality is recognized


Here then  are two men put them side by side. They are both composed of “Spirit, soul, body”, and according to Genesis 1:26, both created in the image of the Living God. They live on the same street in the same city, in the midst of the same surroundings, but their concepts of life are entirely opposed. Continuing one step further the apostle recognizes man can live in one of two spheres,  either in the flesh, or in spirit. On the side of his nature which of the flesh, or on that side of his nature which is spiritual. Mark the contrast between them.


A man who lives in the flesh is a man who lives as though life were limited thereby. The man living in the flesh is near- sighted “seeing only the things that are near”. He in no way hears the things of God and whatever his pathway,  he arrives at a place of disappointment, seeking to satisfy the fleshly appetites, he arrives only at a place of hunger and of longings. 


Those who walk after the flesh, live a life void of Christ. To live in the flesh is to mind the things of the flesh…it is to be carnally minded,  to live at enmity with God,  to presently come to the end of life being without hope, without love either of God or man,  That is the life in the flesh.


 In order that this should not be merely the discussion of a theory.  Find out where you  live, take the past week that has gone. Let  your mind’s eye look over the doings of the past week… this will suffice. With what were you principally occupied during the week?    What shall we eat, what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed? How shall I possess more of this world's goods?  How shall I minister to the comfort of my body? How shall I enter into the pleasures of life which are wholly of the flesh?   Were these the master questions of the week?   Perhaps not expressed as I have expressed them, but there, and dominating the life. That is life in the flesh. 


What else did the apostle say concerning this? “The mind of the flesh is death” (verse 6) the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be:” (verse 7).    And finally: “8and they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (verse 8)


There are degrees of this life in the flesh, there are manifestations of life in the flesh, common to our thinking more  offensive and  more improper than others.  If a man lives a life of flesh without reservation, and gives himself up to the vilest passions of that nature… that is life in the flesh.   But,  if a man lives purely for selfish purposes and selfish reasons, abstaining from the basest acts of the flesh,  living a life without God, no intentions to glorify his Maker… No concept of today. He is living in the flesh as surely,  as the man who gives himself wholly to his lust.   But if there is no God, no eternity, nothing beyond the grave, then the difference between these men is only that value we as men place upon what is respectable and  moral and what is not.


Turn to the other side of the  suggested picture,  “Life in the spirit” .  That is a life in which a man recognizes that the essential part of himself as being spiritual.   Created in the very image of God,, the Father of Spirits illuminated in Genesis 2:7

7And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.  


A man can live on this side of his nature and what does it mean?  And I answer, vision.  I cannot use this word in this connection without consideration of  a passage full of beauty and meaning in the great chapter of Hebrews describing the great servants of old.   This great thing is said of Moses and it describes exactly 1000's of men and women today   Hebrews 11:27 "he endured, as seeing him who is invisible."     If you are living in the flesh you cannot understand that . You smile at the suggestion and pity the man who is able to do so. But I tell you in all tenderness, "He Pities You Far More Than You Pity Him" …


It is not a dream,  how do I know he sees the invisible?  By the way he endures,  the demonstration of the far vision of endurance.  This kind of faith I must have Hebrews 11:3;6

3Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear…..  6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.   


There are Christians today who see far beyond reality ,  by and through the eye of faith, they “see Him who is invisible”  These are men and women of faith..


In our text Paul describes the mind of the man living in the spirit more briefly, yet more inclusive than the fleshly minded man.  The man who lives in the spirit minds the things of the spirit  (verse 5) and what of it”  the mind of the Spirit is life and peace”:


If we should divide this congregation by the standards of men we have all sorts of divisions.  The learned and unlearned, the rich and the poor, the high and the low,  the noble and ignoble…    But in the divisions of heaven, there are but  two classes  men and women who live in the flesh, and men and women who live in the spirit.


A man can live in the flesh with eyes shut to spiritual, and sacred things. And a man can live in the spirit with his eyes and understanding illuminated by spiritual things. Now notice what the text reveals concerning the man of the Spirit..   Romans 8:9 

9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.      And the word that arrests our attention — IF —   Here is the true test of the fleshly man and the spiritual man. “9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you”.


How can I tell if the Spirit of God dwells in me?  The question is a good one, and the answer is not the greatest of mysteries. 

Contextually we can know we can know that the Spirit dwells in us if we are in Christ ….  Notice what he says    Romans 8:1-2

1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.


 Verses 1 and 2 are set in not opposition,  but apposition to one another….  The man who walks after the Spirit, is the man who walks after the law of the Spirit, The law of the Spirit is the law given by the Spirit. The law given by the Spirit was the words revealed to the apostles by the Spirit whom Jesus sent to them..  An illuminating passage is  In 2 Corinthians 3:2-3

“Ye are our epistle, written in our hearts, known and read of all men; 3being made manifest that ye are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in tables that are hearts of flesh”.  God had written the Decalogue with his finger upon tables of stone; but in the new covenant, of which Paul now began to speak, not God's finger, but God's Spirit did the writing.


In Ephesians 5:15-17  to be filled with the Spirit,  is to understand the will of the Lord. And so to walk after the Spirit is simply another designation for the glorious gospel of Christ. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit”.     Romans 8:1    absolutely true


The next question logically is: "Am I in Christ?"  To this question, one should give thoughtful attention.  “Am I in Christ”?

In Ephesians chapter one the express thought in the apostle's mind is  In Christ. Read carefully Ephesians 1:1-7


To be in Christ is to be  chosen to be “foreordained” ”predestined”  KJV to be [proorivzw] appointed before hand. Not some cheap idea men teach, where some are chosen to be saved, while others are not. But here a type of character is chosen before hand, to receive redemption, forgiveness of sins, accepted……..   Now,  who is the character God has predestined to be saved? Those “in Christ.”


Note further Ephesians chapter 2:11-13 there is a dividing line of Before and After  being In Christ.…In verse 11 he calls on them to “Wherefore remember, that once ye, the Gentiles in the flesh…”  He is describing  them before their conversion to Christ, they were living in the flesh.  Those in the flesh cannot please God  (Romans 8:8)  He describes their condition at this time in verse 12, hear it:

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel  a term meaning alienation from the promises of Israel, ,……”and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world”


Again notice the dividing line, what we have been discussing in verse 11-12  was their condition before being in Christ, but now….  Verse 13, “13But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:  17And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;


What a blessing In Christ —  Remembering all spiritual blessing are in Christ  (Ephesians 1:3)  How can I know if I am in Christ?   Galatians 3:26 tells us that we are baptized into Christ. 

26For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. 27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. 28There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus. 29And if ye are Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.


Are you In Christ?  Have you acknowledged Him as your Lord,  and repenting of your sins, have you been buried in baptism for the remission of sins?  In Christ   For the child of God… in Christ  “there is no condemnation when he walks after the Spirit”…. 1 John 1:6-7


6If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.


When we are In Christ,  we will walk after the Spirit, in the law of the Spirit, and produce the fruit of the Spirit .

Galatians 5:16-25



Ron Cope Minister churches of Christ


phone:  (678)617-9658