Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
The position of Paul on this matter is clear: our old life in the sinful nature was nailed to the cross with Christ and we now have the new life of the Spirit. We might correctly remark, If it was crucified with Christ then why is it still around? And the answer is because we allow it to be so. The life of the Spirit is our experience today, but we still must choose to live in this realm.
A few years ago I ran into one of my elementary school teachers. It was a nice, if brief, reunion but I also felt immediately like a child again. She held no more sway over me, except in my mind, but those old feelings are difficult to overcome. I remembered the times she sent me to the principal’s office (I was not always a pastor), and had to grapple with an old fear re-asserting itself. I had to shake myself and remember that I was now an adult, no longer a child sitting in her class, nice lady that she was.
In the same way we allow sin to hold power over us, only sin is not a nice lady, but our fallen nature, the vicious enemy of true spiritual life with God, spurred on by an even more vigorous enemy, the devil, for our own destruction. The cross paid sin’s penalty and ended sin’s reign, for there its power of accusation was broken, and in the resurrection of Christ and the coming of His Spirit is the power of God for life within us. Now we are to walk with the Spirit, keeping in step with Him, for He is our life.
A good measurement on whether we are keeping in step with God is in our attitudes; pride and envy resulting in provocation toward even our brothers in Christ, these are of the old man. Walking with the Spirit results in thinking what the Spirit thinks, living in the realm of forgiveness and grace.
The enemy attacks us at our weakest points: some sense of justified anger; a desire for vindication, perhaps even well deserved; a disdain toward another person we deem to be our inferior; a longing after position and respect – these things are the ways the old nature asserts itself, subtly, with seeming justification. Be careful! Here are the thoughts of death, and we may be caught up in lifeless and joyless existence. Avoid focusing on what you deserve for Christ, for all that we deserve is condemnation before a holy God. If we stand by grace, then we are separated from living on any other level. Grace received must be grace shared. The easiest way to stop walking with the Spirit is to forget this.
Lord, in You we have life. Teach us to live in the reality of grace and share it lavishly with others. Amen.