Read Romans 8:1-13.
Sin—it’s not something we ever go in depth about. There are those who simply say we need to avoid it at all costs and cling to God, and there are those who would prefer if no one ever brought the subject up at all. But neither seems to truly help us fight it.
Even as Christians, we still sin. We still give in to temptation. We still deliberately mess up, and we still ignorantly mess up. Sometimes it feels like we can’t even begin to follow God correctly because we sin so much. We confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, but we still struggle. How can we battle the sin in our lives?
Paul starts this passage by reminding us that God saved us from our sins through His Son Jesus Christ. We are no longer under sin but under God, and we don’t have to worry because the Lord Jesus paid our debt in full and gave us His righteousness. We are now called to live according to the Spirit of God and not our sinful nature.
Paul also tells us a simple truth that can make a drastic difference in how we choose to avoid sin. “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” (v.5) Those who live out the passions of their sinful nature are the ones who think about the passions of their sinful nature. But those who think about the Spirit’s desires are the ones who live by Him. What we think about has a lot to do with how we act, talk, and live, and when we allow ourselves to think about the sinful things we want, we are only allowing ourselves to be more and more tempted. But when we think about what God wants, we are more encouraged to follow Him. We are also much better off, as “the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (in v.6).
We cannot allow our own thoughts to tempt us if we want to truly honor God in everything. Verse 8 says, “Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” If we choose to let our minds actively dwell on sinful things, we won’t please God.
Thankfully, we are not just called to avoid sinful thoughts; we are called to fill our minds with thoughts about what God desires. When we have God’s desires right in front of us, we are able to more clearly see how He is calling us to live them out. Paul later says we should renew our minds so our lives can be transformed (see Romans 12:2). If you’re a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives inside of you, and you are able to think about God’s desires. You have new life in God, a life no longer defined and ruled by your sins or desires but ruled by Him. Though sin leads to death, the Spirit of God gives us life. This is our hope and strength when fighting against temptation.
Verses 12-13 show us our new obligation. We need to put to death all the sin within us by the Spirit. This is not something we can do alone. Only by the Holy Spirit can we be freed from this cage of sin within our own hearts. But if we ask Him, He will lead us through it into a freedom we could not experience here any other way.
Now read Romans 8:14-17.
It is by God’s Spirit we are made His children. We don’t have to be afraid; we can trust in our loving Father that He will forgive us and help us. We don’t have to fight this battle alone. We are able to pray to Him anytime, and He will help us. Even though we’ve sinned in the past, He has forgiven and redeemed us, and He has given us the Holy Spirit so we can call out to Him as our Father. God is not finished with us yet, and He will continue to mold us, refine us, and shape us until we are like Jesus. We are being made holy, and we don’t have to sin any longer. He has broken every chain that bound us and has set us free! “And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (in v.3-4)
Pray to God, thanking Him for saving you and asking Him for help in fighting against sin. Remember He is our good, loving Father, His Spirit is in us, and He has set us free from sin. The victory is the Lord’s. And if you don’t feel very free right now, ask Him to free you again. He is with us.