This past Sunday I preached the second part of a four-week series on the Holy Spirit. We looked at how one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to be in opposition to our flesh. For those of you who haven’t been around church jargon when the Bible speaks about “flesh” it’s talking about that fallen, weak part of our humanity that leads us away from God and into sin. Here’s one of the main scriptures from my sermon:
“in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not 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 set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:4–6, ESV)
I highlighted the words “death” and “life and peace” because those seem to me to be the real things at stake when you talk about this role of the Holy Spirit. You see, God intends that our lives have a sense of purpose and that within that purpose we find things like joy, laughter, rest, hope, warmth of relationship, and many others. These are things that when thought of collectively we might refer to them as “life and peace” or all of the things that make life good and fulfilling over it’s entirety.
On the other end of that spectrum are the things that the scriptures refer to as “death.” For many people when they hear the Bible refer to death they instantly think about hell and separation from God and that’s certainly in the intended meaning in reference to what the flesh produces, but there are a lot of things before you get to that ultimate loss. Having the mind filled with the pursuit of the things that make the fallen part of you satisfied begins this slow death. Things like purpose, hope, joy, satisfaction in your relationships, and in general a sense of peace begin to disappear from your life and life becomes an endless search for things to fill up the growing void in your mind and heart.
How do you prevent that?
Pursue the things of the spirit. Said differently, fill your life and mind with things that are good and godly. It really is like a prescription from the doctor.
- Watch things that are wholesome.
- Hear things that have virtue in them.
- Go places and do things that establish goodness.
- Build people up rather than tearing them down.
- Serve those around you.
You might notice that I’ve tried to stay away from some of the phrases that you hear in church circles. Phrases like, “study the scriptures”, “worship the Lord”, or “spend time in His presence.” I did that not because these are bad things, but because I wanted you to think and sometimes hearing the same language over and over can keep us from thinking. These are exactly the things that we should do to fight the flesh!
Our world desperately needs to encounter people in whom the Holy Spirit is revealing the Spirit-filled life. A life filled to overflowing with the life and peace that only the Holy Spirit brings. People are hungry, but they’re hungry for something different and a life filled with “life and peace” is certainly different in today’s world. Let’s show it to them!