Romans 8:12 “So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.”
In this verse, the apostle Paul is conveying an important message about the nature of the Christian life and how believers should live.
1. Debtors: Paul begins by using the metaphor of being “debtors.” In this context, he means that as Christians, believers owe allegiance or commitment to God to not live in their sinful human nature, often referred to as “the flesh.”
2. Not to the Flesh: The commitment we owe to God is to ensure that we do not yield to our fleshly desires, human impulses, or sinful nature. In this context, the term “flesh” does not pertain to our physical bodies, but rather signifies the inclination to be guided by self-centered desires, appetites, and behaviors that run counter to God’s divine will and standards. This teaching from Paul holds substantial moral and spiritual significance within the framework of God’s anticipations for the transformation of believers’ lives through the potency of the Holy Spirit, and the summons to lead lives that align with God’s pleasing path.
3. To Live According to the Flesh: Paul is emphasizing that believers should not live their lives in accordance with these sinful desires and behaviors. Living “according to the flesh” means being guided by selfish motives, pursuing worldly desires, and engaging in behaviors that are contrary to God’s commandments.
It’s important to note that different Christian communities and individuals may interpret and emphasize various aspects of scripture differently, leading to variations in how certain verses are applied in their lives. While some Christians might indeed focus on verses like Romans 8:12 and emphasize the need to avoid sinful behaviors, others may prioritize different aspects of Christian teachings. Often, Christians avoid paying attention to warnings like this, for several reasons:
1. Lack of Understanding: Sometimes, Christians might not fully understand the implications of certain verses or teachings, leading to unintentional neglect.
2. Spiritual Growth: Christians, like anyone else, are on a journey of spiritual growth. They might not always have a deep understanding of all aspects of their faith, and their understanding might evolve over time.
3. Cultural and Social Influences: Cultural and societal factors can sometimes influence how people prioritize and interpret certain teachings. Distractions and secular influences can divert attention away from spiritual matters.
4. Personal Struggles: People have their own personal struggles and challenges. Sometimes, these struggles can lead to a neglect of spiritual principles.
5. Spiritual Leadership: The guidance of spiritual leaders and mentors within a community can significantly impact how these teachings are emphasized.
One of the things the Holy Spirit taught me is that no matter what reasons we have for neglecting the word of God, none of those reasons above will fly with Him. Spending our Christian life with lack of understanding, lack of spiritual growth, ignorance, personal struggles that cause us to neglect the Spirit leading and so on, are all excuses as far as God is concerned. I was surprised to hear the Spirit said that. Granted that at that time, I too was a nominal Christian with my own struggles. He simply said to me the reason why God does not care much for our excuses is that He is right there for anyone who is willing to find Him. He reminded me of this verse which I always assumed was there for unbelievers. Little did I know, He was talking to us Christians, directly. Revelation 3:20 “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Only then, I realized that He was indeed talking to backsliding Christians of the Laodicea Church.
A few years later, He reminded me that when we become entirely comfortable with living in ignorance of God and His word, we are echoing a sentiment akin to the attitude of the Jews during the time of Christ. This parallel became evident when He directed my attention to John 8:31-32. In this passage, Jesus addressed those among the Jews who had placed their faith in Him, stating, “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” It dawned on me that He sought to convey the importance of a persistent journey with Him. This revealed that the issue lies in a reluctance to maintain that ongoing connection.
Be Blessed and Be a Blessing to Others,