Life In The Spirit
. . . be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans12:2)
Living “life in the Spirit” can be described as a way of setting our hearts on the leadings of the Holy Spirit. In his Letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul is very clear that the power of the Holy Spirit is an integral part of the gospel that he had traveled the world proclaiming.
According to Paul, we all have some areas of our lives which are of God and very pleasing to him, and others which are not so good. Paul understood that only by living in the Spirit can we continue to build up those parts that are pleasing and gradually do away with the parts that are sinful and displeasing.
Paul was realistic about how challenging this can be. In one of his most famous passages in Romans, he cries out, “I don’t understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). Doesn’t our own experience confirm this dilemma? Each of us has our own forms of erratic behavior. In one setting, we can be generous to a fault yet, in another setting, we can be completely selfish. At one moment we are kind and thoughtful, and in the next moment we are angry and intolerant.
Is this the way God wants us to live? Does he really want us to be haphazard in our actions? To use Paul’s words, does God really want us to be alternately controlled by the Holy Spirit one moment and by our selfish desires the next moment (Romans 8:5)?
Brothers and sisters, God does not want us to act and think haphazardly. He wants us to be able to know whether our thoughts come from the Holy Spirit, from the devil, or from our own fallen nature. He doesn’t want us to be left wondering whether our thoughts and actions are pleasing to him. No, he wants us to know that we really can recognize when our behavior is of him, and when it isn’t. He wants to assure us that we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us grow in our ability to discern God’s will and the movements of his Spirit within us.