For Life and Peace, Walk in Accord With the Spirit
“Walk, not in accord with the flesh, but in accord with the spirit.”—ROMANS 8:4.
1, 2. (a) What is the danger of being distracted while driving? (b) What is the danger of being distracted from our worship of Jehovah?
A GOVERNMENT official in the United States said that the problem of people who are distracted while driving is getting worse every year. For example, they can get distracted if they use a mobile phone while they are driving. Many have reported that they have been in an accident, or have almost been in an accident, because the driver of another car was using a phone while driving. People may think that they are saving time if they use their mobile phones while driving, but doing this can cause a serious accident.
2 A driver who is distracted may not notice dangers on the road. A similar thing could happen in our relationship with Jehovah. If we allow things to distract us from serving God and maintaining good conduct, it could be dangerous. Paul said that our faith could be ruined just like a ship can be ruined in a shipwreck. (1 Timothy 1:18, 19) The apostle Paul warned about this danger when he wrote to his brothers in Rome: “The minding of the flesh means death, but the minding of the spirit means life and peace.” (Romans 8:6) What did Paul mean by that? How can we avoid “the minding of the flesh” and work hard at “the minding of the spirit”?
THEY “HAVE NO CONDEMNATION”
3, 4. (a) What personal struggle did Paul write about? (b) Why should we be interested in Paul’s situation?
3 In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote about a struggle that he had experienced in his life. He said that he felt as if his mind and his body were fighting against each other. (Read Romans 7:21-23.) Paul did not talk about this to make excuses for his actions or because he felt sorry for himself. He did not mean that it was impossible for him to do what was right. He was a mature, anointed Christian and was chosen to be sent as “an apostle to the nations.” (Romans 1:1; 11:13) So why did Paul write about this struggle?
4 Paul was saying that he could not do God’s will the way he really wanted to do it. Why not? He said: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Like all of Adam’s children, Paul was imperfect and had wrong desires. We can understand how he felt. We too struggle every day because of our imperfection and wrong desires. And there are many distractions that could affect our worship of God and take us off the narrow road leading to life. (Matthew 7:14) But Paul’s situation was not hopeless, and neither is ours.
5. From where did Paul get help and relief?
5 Paul asked who would rescue him from this struggle, and then he said: “Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24, 25) Then, Paul spoke to anointed Christians, the ones who are “in union with Christ Jesus.” (Read Romans 8:1, 2.) Jehovah adopts them as sons through his holy spirit. He makes them “joint heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:14-17) God’s holy spirit and the faith they have in the ransom sacrifice of Jesus help them to win the fight that Paul talked about. So God no longer condemns them for their imperfection. They are set free “from the law of sin and of death.”
6. Why should all of God’s servants want to understand Paul’s words?
6 Even though Paul was talking to anointed Christians, what he said about God’s holy spirit and the ransom sacrifice of Jesus can benefit all of Jehovah’s servants, whether they have the hope to live in heaven or to live on earth. Even though the counsel Paul gave was inspired by God, it is important that all of God’s servants understand and obey what he wrote.
HOW GOD “CONDEMNED SIN IN THE FLESH”
7, 8. (a) In what way was the Law “weak through the flesh”? (b) What has God done through his holy spirit and the ransom sacrifice?
7 In Romans chapter 7, Paul explained that imperfect humans are under the power of sin. In chapter 8, he talked about the power of holy spirit. He explained that God’s holy spirit can help Christians in their struggle against the power of sin. It can help them to do what Jehovah wants and to have his approval. Paul showed that God used his holy spirit and the ransom sacrifice of Jesus to do something that the Law of Moses could not.
8 The Law condemned sinners because it was not possible for people to obey all the commandments of the Law. Israel’s high priests serving under the Law were imperfect and could not offer sacrifices to remove sin, so the Law was “weak through the flesh.” God sent his Son as a human “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” and his ransom “condemned sin in the flesh.” The sacrifice of Jesus was able to save people from sin. Because anointed Christians have faith in Jesus’ sacrifice, Jehovah can view them as righteous. Paul’s counsel encourages anointed Christians to “walk, not in accord with the flesh, but in accord with the spirit.” (Read Romans 8:3, 4.) They must continue to do this until the end of their life on earth. If they are faithful, they will receive “the crown of life.”—Revelation 2:10.
9. What is the meaning of the word “law” used at Romans 8:2?
9 Paul also talked about “the law of that spirit” and “the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:2) What are these laws? The word he used in this verse does not refer to rules, like the ones in the Law of Moses. A reference book says that the Greek word for “law” in this verse means the good or bad things that people do and that control them like a law. It can also mean the guidelines that they choose to live by.
10. How does the law of sin and of death control us?
10 The apostle Paul wrote: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) Because we are all children of Adam, the law of sin and of death controls us. Our sinful desire is to do things that do not please God. But these things lead to death. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul said that these sinful actions and habits are “works of the flesh.” And he said: “Those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom.” (Galatians 5:19-21) The people who do these things walk “in accord with the flesh.” They follow their fleshly desires. (Romans 8:4) They are guided by what their imperfect flesh tells them to do. But are people who commit sins like fornication, idolatry, spiritism, and other sins the only ones who are following their fleshly desires? No. “The works of the flesh” mentioned in Galatians also include things that many could think are just personal weaknesses. This would include things like jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, and envies. We must never think that we do not need to fight against our imperfect flesh.
11, 12. What has Jehovah done to free us from the law of sin and of death? What must we do to have God’s approval?
11 We are happy that Jehovah has made it possible for us to be free from the law of sin and of death! Jesus said: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” If we live in a way that shows that we love God and we have faith in the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, we can be freed from the punishment that results from sin. (John 3:16-18) We will feel as Paul did when he said: “Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
12 Our situation is similar to being cured of a serious illness. We can recover completely only if we do what the doctor tells us to do. Our faith in the ransom can free us from the law of sin and of death, but we are still imperfect and sinful. To continue to have a strong relationship with Jehovah and have his approval, there is something that we need to do. If we want to recover from the sickness of imperfection, Paul tells us that we must walk in accord with the spirit.
HOW CAN WE WALK IN ACCORD WITH GOD’S SPIRIT?
13. What does it mean to walk in accord with God’s spirit?
13 When we walk somewhere, we continue moving toward that place. To walk in accord with the spirit, we need to progress in the truth. (1 Timothy 4:15) Even though we cannot do this perfectly, each day we do our best to follow the guidance of God’s spirit. If we are “walking by spirit,” we will please God.—Galatians 5:16.
14. How do people who live “in accord with the flesh” think and act?
14 In his letter to the Romans, Paul next spoke about people who have two opposite ways of thinking. (Read Romans 8:5.) Here the word “flesh” is not just the physical body. In the Bible, “flesh” can sometimes refer to our imperfections. Our imperfections cause the struggle between the flesh and the mind that Paul talked about. Paul fought against his flesh, or imperfections. But many people today do not even try to fight their wrong desires, so they live “in accord with the flesh.” They do not think about what God wants them to do, and they do not ask him to help them win the fight. They often “set their minds on the things of the flesh” and allow their fleshly desires to control them. But people who are living “in accord with the spirit” allow Jehovah to guide them.
15, 16. (a) How can setting our mind on something affect what we think about? (b) What are most people today interested in?
15 (Read Romans 8:6.) Before people do good things or bad things, they first set their mind on the things they want to do. If people set their mind on the things of the flesh, the result will be that they will want to do the things of the flesh. Their thoughts, interests, and feelings will usually be on these things.
16 What are most people interested in today? The apostle John wrote: “Everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world.” (1 John 2:16) The desires John wrote about are things like immorality, wanting to be important and well-known, and wanting more material things. Books, magazines, movies, TV programs, and the Internet promote these desires all the time. These are the things that most people have set their mind on because these are the things that they really want. Paul said that “the minding of the flesh means death.” It could cause us to lose our relationship with God, and in the future we could lose our life. Why? “Because the minding of the flesh means enmity with God, for it is not under subjection to the law of God, nor, in fact, can it be. So those who are in harmony with the flesh cannot please God.”—Romans 8:7, 8.
17, 18. How can we allow God’s spirit to guide us? What is the result if we do so?
17 “The minding of the spirit means life and peace.” It means everlasting life in the future as well as peace in our hearts and minds and peace with God now. How can we show we are minding the spirit? If we always follow the guidance of God and his holy spirit, we will grow in a way of thinking that agrees with his way of thinking. We want our thinking to be “under subjection to the law of God.” Then, when we are in a situation where we need to resist temptation, we will know what we should do. We will have the desire to make the right choice. We will make a choice that is guided by God’s spirit.
18 It should be our desire to set our mind on the things of God. We want to make Christian activities the most important part of our life. These activities include regular prayer, Bible reading and study, meeting attendance, and the ministry. (1 Peter 1:13) Instead of letting our sinful desires control us, we should follow God’s way of thinking and allow his spirit to guide us. If we do this, we will have many blessings, and we will have everlasting life and peace.—Galatians 6:7, 8.
SOME WORDS EXPLAINED
▪ If we walk in accord with the spirit, we follow the guidance of God’s holy spirit in our thinking and conduct
▪ If we walk in accord with the flesh, we allow sinful desires to control our thoughts and actions
CAN YOU EXPLAIN?
▪ What was the Law of Moses not able to do? How did God overcome this?
▪ What is “the law of sin and of death”? How can we be freed from it?
▪ What must we do to develop “the minding of the spirit”?
[Blurb on page 12]
Even though we are imperfect, we can progress in the truth when we walk in accord with the spirit
[Pictures on pages 12, 13]
Do you walk in accord with the flesh or in accord with the spirit?