When I was a kid, I felt really insecure about myself. I performed very well academically, mainly because I was trying to impress my teachers and receive verbal praise from them, especially my male teachers. I lived off of their encouragement because I had no father figure at home who encouraged me. For a long time I based all my life plans on what teachers at school said I was good at. I was an extreme people pleaser.
It would be easy to look back on my life and blame all the bad parts on my mom or step-father, but I take responsibility for when I was not following God. Pornography, people-pleasing, and procrastination were three things that plagued my life.
Something that is becoming more common in our culture are phrases like, “father wounds,” and “mother wounds,” but I challenge you to fight that culture. That is not God. Jesus is the great physician. If you continue to tell yourself that your faults are because of your past instead of receiving love and healing from God, then you will not be healed. You will become a slave to your past. Fight the spirit of the past and press into the Holy Spirit and move forward. We are going to take a look at the beginning of Romans 8 today.
8:1 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. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 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, 4 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. 5 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. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 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. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 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. (Rom. 8:1-11, NKJV).
Let’s start with verse one. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1) Most of us have probably heard that verse before. I have always just read this and thought, “Cool! I’m not condemned!”
But have you ever felt condemned before? We all have. Why is that? I’d like to propose that we actually have a choice to walk according to the flesh or according to the Spirit. Romans 6:6-8 says:
Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 6:6-8)
Your old self is dead when you believe in Jesus. If it was impossible for us to forget that, then why would Paul write it in the Bible? It is of utmost importance that you read and meditate on God’s Word because His Word can change your thinking (in other words, it makes you spiritually-minded). If your thinking isn’t changed by God’s Word, then you run the risk of forgetting vital information, such as the fact that your old, sinful flesh is DEAD. So you can stop pretending it’s alive. You can stop putting on an act. When you are a Christian, that is what sinful behavior is, a charade.
So, what does it mean to walk in the Spirit? It means to live like Jesus, trusting the Father and His will, staying in-tune with what the Holy Spirit is saying. The Holy Spirit points to Jesus, and Jesus points to the Father. Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do. For whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel” (John 5:19-20).
Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing, and you have Jesus living inside of you, which means that you also only ought to do what you see the Father doing. So, look around you. Find out what God is doing, in State College or wherever you are, and do that.
Interesting side note: when you are a leader in something, the people who follow you will do what they see you doing, not what you talk about doing, not what someone else saw you doing, but what they see you doing.
Now, back to Romans 8; let’s skip down a couple of verses. “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Rom. 8:6). One way to assess yourself to see if you are being spiritually minded or carnally minded is to check your control level. Do you feel like your thoughts are out of control? Peace is the opposite of chaos. One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is self-control. So, if you feel like your thought life is out of control, then you are being carnally minded. If you have a thought that pops into your head (it could be a pornographic image that you saw, a hateful thought towards a person, or a sexual desire for someone you are not married to, or something else) do you immediately cast that thought out and move on with your life, or do you meditate on it and let it fester? Do you find pleasure from it?
God tells us to take captive every thought, and He tells us to meditate on His Word. That is because we must cast out evil thoughts that come and replace them with God’s Word. God also tells us to tame our tongues. What you say has an impact.
A few more verses down, it says that, “He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom. 8:11). Have you noticed that people our age like to joke and say things like, “That makes me feel dead inside,” or even, “Go kill yourself”? I don’t think it is a coincidence that people say these things in a joking manor, and at the same time, suicide rates are through the roof.
The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention website has these statistics:
- There are 130 suicides per day
- White males accounted for about 69% of suicide deaths in 2019 (unrelated note: I wonder if the enemy may be taking our country’s fight against racism and twisting it into a hatred and death of white males)
This culture does not understand about being alive in Christ. In fact, I would argue that this culture is obsessed with death.
Therefore, it is more important than ever that Christians have a firm understanding of what it really means to be alive. It is imperative that we as followers of Jesus hold fast to what God says in His Word, obey the Holy Spirit as He guides us every day, control the ways that we think, cast out the thoughts from the enemy that come into our minds, and understand that our old selves are DEAD, vaporized, when we believe in Jesus. Whenever my daughter misbehaves, I ask her, “Are you a kind person or a rude person?” Often, she will reply and say, “A rude person.” I tell her that when she sins she is not being herself; God made her to be kind and not rude. I tell her that she is not a rude person, but rather a kind person who made a mistake.
You are no longer a sinner. You were truly saved when you accepted Christ. You are not a sinner. You are alive with Jesus.
 Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982).