Living In The Spirit


The central understanding of the Christian life is that Jesus’ death and resurrection not only changed the course of history, but the life of every Christian. Christ conquered sin and death once and for all. Because of this, each and every Christian is called to a new way of life. We are no longer to live under the laws of the flesh. Rather we are to live by the Spirit. Because we have been liberated from sin and death we are to live the constant challenge to put to death our old ways, the evil deeds of the flesh, through our participation in this new life of the Spirit.

That last statement is important and deserves further contemplation. The problem is that we are still in the flesh. Yes, we have been baptized and through that washing we have been born again in the Spirit, but we know only too well how easy it is still to stumble, to fall down under the weight of worldly temptations. As Christians, we still retain the flesh, but in faith it is alien to our new being, our new self, governed as we are now by the Spirit instead of the law. We must remember that we were made by God and that our souls are made in His image and likeness. Therefore, our souls are made for eternity. God has an infinite interest, a personal, intimate love, for each and every one of us. Knowing this, we know also that he would not command us to do what is beyond our ability to do with his grace as our constant support.

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We are no longer to be concerned with the things of the flesh for, “The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace. For the concern of the flesh is hostility toward God; it does not submit to the law of God, nor can it; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:6-8) If we are born again in Christ, as we are in our baptisms, then the Spirit of Christ lives in us and it is this alone that is the cause of our righteousness in this life. It is in this faith, and with God’s grace, that we are able to begin to turn away from the things of the flesh. We will no longer be consumed the desire to acquire of material things beyond our needs. If we live in the Spirit, we will no longer demand the recognition of the world, or it awards and rewards. If we live in the Spirit, we will no longer live for selfish reasons. It is in the Spirit that we are able to see the suffering other. It is in the Spirit that we are moved to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to care for the sick, and to visit the imprisoned. It is the Spirit that we are able to sacrifice the things of the flesh in order to serve the good of others, without expecting anything in return. This is the life of the Spirit in us. This is the eternal life welling up in us. It is our choosing, with God’s help, to live in the Spirit that makes God’s intimate presence visible in the world.

Lord, we desire with all of our being to live each day in the joy of your Spirit. We know by experience that we cannot do this without your grace. Yet, our desire to live in your Spirit is real, Lord. Strengthen it within us so that we may, through our loving actions in your Spirit, bring others to you in joy and peace. We ask this in your name, Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.