I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
By Anna Prempeh (WITHIN Devotional Writer)
“So then, brothers and sisters, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, because if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, Abba , Father!” Romans 8: 12 - 15 (CSB)
Recently my psychiatrist dropped a bomb or rather revealed one during our therapy session. We were discussing how to break the biological effects of stress on the body even when we have mentally overcome the stressor. Her questions uncovered a great deal of emotional (and spiritual) work ahead of me to uncover some things that I am sowing to that are unhealthy and not God honoring attitudes.
Quite frankly the word bondage comes to mind when I think of my tendency to respond to fears and anxieties in my own strength and will power. I left our session quite familiarly encumbered by this reality, but more importantly convicted and encouraged that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead gives me power to respond differently because of who I am in Christ - chosen, and adopted (a “coheir with Christ” Romans 8:17).
My pastor often says, “your identity informs your obedience.” This means that as people who believe in and live for Christ our confidence to live for Him must be rooted in awareness of our union with Him. Romans 8 boasts of life in the Spirit. Christ’s saving work on the cross has purchased a new life and an eternal inheritance for us ! The part of this passage that shakes me to the core is verse 12 which echoes verse 1 in Chapter 8. It says “we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh.” This word “obligated” is translated “debtors” in the English Standard Version. As believers the Spirit has set us free! We do not owe anything to who we were in the past. We do not have to respond to temptation with justification which leads to sin because the Spirit gives us the power to overcome! Sisters, we do not owe a single thing to who we were before we came to know Christ.
For me, this means I do not have to respond anxiously to fears in my heart although I have been prone to do so. I do not have to hold back affection and love out of fear of being hurt. Just because I may be prone to these things or have been in the past does not mean I am obligated to do them. In fact thinking these responses are inevitable is giving power to my flesh & living obligated to it.This is a big killer of confidence in Christ!
So where do we find the anchor of our identity that propels us forward, our real weapon to sustain us in the fight ? Verses 13 - 15 lay it out beautifully : “But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, Abba , Father!” We did not receive a spirit of slavery, of obligation or debtedness to our sinful flesh, but we have received sonship ! This means our heavenly Father has adopted us by sending His Son and is leading us by His Holy Spirit (Romans 8:3). As His children God is our confidant and helper. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses and intercedes for us (Romans 8:26-27).
Let us fight to “put to death the deeds of the body,” by the power of the Spirit (Romans 8:13). We are called not just to put off the deeds of our flesh, but to put on that which we are called to as God’s holy and dearly beloved children (Ephesians 4:24-32; Colossians 3:12-15). One Scripture that has been immensely life giving is Colossians 3:14 which says “He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.”
Sisters, let us set our minds on the power of the resurrection and God’s grace that we might not miss the freedom from obligation to our flesh, which has been nailed to the cross and carried away!
The weekly devotionals seek to encourage you to dig deeper into Scripture as you take the time to daily read, meditate, and internalize the verses in the devotional, along with the passages provided below to give greater context. Take the time to read them throughout the week (repetition is important) and ask the Holy Spirit to help you grasp what God is showing you about Himself, about you, and how to live in light of these truths.
Passages to read/memorize/meditate:
1 Thessalonians 5 : 8-9
Questions to Reflect on: