If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh-- for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live, For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Romans 8:10-14).
Obligations. We all have them. Whether job, family or money related, we know what it means to have an “obligation.” The King James uses the word “debtor” in this verse which might give a stronger sense. Yet what Paul says to all Christians is that we owe these matters to Christ and God as matters of solemn obligation. Even the great Apostle who championed among his Jewish peers and non-Jewish converts a great sense of gospel liberty explicitly declares Christian obligation. What is it?
We are obligated to end our affair with the flesh. Of course, this does not mean that we have stopped being human or that sin will never again brings its troubles (1John 1:5-10). Rather, it means that the power of God’s presence in us and among us should give compelling inertia in our desires for things of “the spirit.” Our obligations require the end of carnal methods, fleshly indulgences and ungodly motives to the things we do. Further, the very explicit works of the flesh like “immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21) should not even resonate with our reputations. We must “put them to death” – forever ending sin’s addictive stranglehold on us. It is our duty to honor Him who raised Christ Jesus and gave us life by keeping these obligations.
Further, we are obligated to live according to the Spirit. Just as our entrance to life in Christ was through the birth of the Spirit (John 3:5) by the washing of the word (Ephesians 5:26), His renewing presence (Titus 3:5) needs to manifest itself in our lives. The fruit He brings is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). This perseverance He brings through the Scriptures He inspired (Romans 15:4) comes as we regularly open, learn and apply His word. He will lead us on and make us strong because God has brought us from death to life. He gives “life to our mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11). So rise up and fulfill your obligations because in doing so, you honor Him who raised Jesus Christ.
You see some obligations become second nature – loving your wife, loving your kids, feeding your body – because we know the good that comes to us because of it. When Christians will rise to see the result of living in the Spirit, our debts and our obligations will stop feeling like oppressive duty the devil wants us to think they are and become in our hearts the same desire of the Spirit of God. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1John 5:2).
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By Don Hooton
From Expository Files 13.3; March 2006