Friday, November 20, 2009

Setting Your Mind on the Spirit

For those of you who have been following this I must apologize for the delay in getting this post out.  I have had many things to attend to that seem to be now resolved to a certain extent.  So I am now able to return to writing. 

Romans 8 is one of the most powerful chapters in proclaiming our spiritual victory found in Christ.  In Chapter 7 Paul discusses the futility of willing yourself into victory.  Willpower does not save.  If willpower was all that was needed then the message of the Cross is pointless.  When the will is set on the Spirit (Spirit mindedness) then the Spirit's power is set forth to do it's work in the life of a believer. 

After repentance (Dying to self and turning to Christ) then one must accept the truth that there is now no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus.  So often we tend to get our spiritual cleaning and then go back to the works of the law.  Or continue to beat ourselves for past sin.  The removal of guilt is complete.  That is not to say that you will not experience consequences of sin (sometimes life long).  But it does mean that you are free spiritually.  Your freedom is an accomplished work that Christ did for you on the Cross. 

At this moment of spiritual freedom you have some choices on what you are going to focus on.  Walking in the Spirit, living in accord with the Spirit, mindset on the Spirit, Crying out in the Spirit, groaning in the Spirit, Hoping in the Spirit, Waiting in the Spirit, and praying in the Spirit are all disciplines that lead to greater and greater Spirit mindedness.  There is considerable overlap between these disciplines. 

What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin's domain, and as a sin offering, in order that the law's requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit.
Romans 8:3-5 (HCSB)

"Walking according the the Spirit" and "living according the the Spirit" is an intentional change from doing what feels good (in the moment) to falling under the direction of God's Holy Spirit.  This is not the same as willing to be obedient to God's Law, but rather it is choosing to follow His Spirit to be in accord with God's plan for your life.   There is a slang expression "I am down with that."  In some sense we as Christians are to be "down with the Holy Spirit."  We (with our will) are in agreement with His direction for us.  That is walking according the the Spirit.  Our walking and our lives are with the Holy Spirit!

For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God's law, for it is unable to do so.
Romans 8:6-7 (HCSB)

Part of the act of the will in being in accord with the Sprit has to do with where your mind is set.  There is a contrast between a person that has their mind set on the flesh and their mind set on the Spirit.  This is a very important distinction.  I am convinced that as long as a person continues to think about sin either in terms of avoiding it or indulging it the mind continues to be set on the flesh.  Did you catch that?  You can be desiring a good thing (avoiding some particular sin) and still have a mind set on the flesh (remember Romans 7).  There is a need to set our minds on the Spirit of God.  Our ultimate life and peace come from this act.  Think over the times of spiritual victory in your life and you will find that they did not come from working harder to avoid sin, but rather when you were able to set your mind on the things of God.  The opposite is also true.  Think about the times of spiritual defeat.  You were no matter how hard you tired not to unable to beat the sin because it was on your mind.  Having the right mind-set is vital to a Spirit filled life.  Where is your mind set?

For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father!"
Romans 8:15 (HCSB)

When we come to Christ as our savior then we receive the Holy Spirit as evidence that we have been "adopted" into God's family.  It is by this Spirit that we are able to call God our daddy and father.  There are times in life that we just need a daddy to get us through the moment.  To pick us up dust of our pants and let us know He is right there with us holding us up with His strong arms.  It is through Spirit mindedness that we can experience this spiritual hug from God.  Go ahead cry out to Him.  He loves to hug His children!

And not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits -we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
Romans 8:23 (HCSB)

In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings.
Romans 8:26 (HCSB)

There are times when all that we can let out is a groan.  For the Christian there is a groan of desperation and hopelessness (Groaning in the flesh?) and there is a groaning in and by the Spirit.  The groaning in the Spirit come from the realization that this is not our final resting place.  We long to be with God in total.  We desire the day when we will be able to shed this sinful flesh and be fully redeemed and with God.  There also is a groaning that is done by the Spirit Himself.  He groans a prayer over our groaning of weakness.  This type of groaning is actually a prayer.  Praying in the Spirit is a prayer of speechlessness for ourselves, but the words of the Spirit are powerful.  If you have never prayed according the the Spirit in this way I encourage you to get quiet before the Lord acknowledge your weakness and let the Spirit do the rest.  The key is that it is the Spirit's work because of our weakness and not something that you do in yourself!  The prayer in the Spirit is powerful.  Prayer without the Spirit is just a list of things that you want God to do.  God always answers the first prayer, but the latter He may or may not.  These verses explain was praying in the Spirit is answered.

And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit's mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Romans 8:27 (HCSB)

When we pray in the Spirit and the Spirit groans on our behalf then we get a perfect prayer that is according to the will of God.  This takes discipline and it certainly takes sensitivity to the Spirit's leading, but it can transform your life of prayer. 

There are many more disciplines that lead to Spirit Mindedness, but I believe that this is a good start.  One thing before a end this post.  My worst fear is that you would take my words to be something.  In reality they are nothing.  They are less than nothing compared to the surpassing value of God's word.  I ask you with the greatest of urgency and sincerity to examine His word.  In this case specifically Romans 8.  Before during and after your reading of Romans 8 ask that God would give you Spiritual understanding and wisdom.  It does not come from me nor can I replace His Spirit.  May the God of all creation and savior of our souls grant you the wisdom of the ages!

God Bless You!