Do you hate being obliged to do things? Perhaps it is getting your mother-in-law a gift on Mother’s Day even though she drives you crazy. Or after having to work from home now you must go back to the office requiring pants instead of shorts or sweatpants all week. I think the last time I wore a suit was to a funeral a couple of years ago and so they just remain hanging in the closet providing food for moths.
Actually…when you think about it, we are under obligation for quite a number of things if we want to stay alive and be healthy and productive. First, on the list, would be our obligation to breathe…about 22,000 times a day because we need oxygen to stay alive.
Then there is food. We are under an obligation to not just eat food but to eat the food our bodies need to be healthy. If I had it my way, I would be happy just to consume Boston cream-filled donuts with chocolate on top and a cup of coffee at every meal. Throw in an occasional steak and jumbo shrimp and I am a happy man.
However, that would become boring, and I would feel an obligation to dine on foods that sustain a somewhat reasonably healthy existence. We have an obliged to give our body rest, so we sleep…pay our taxes…drive the speed limit (kind of), go to work, and pay our bills. Then, if we get married and have kids, our obligations go through the roof.
So, we can conclude that there are many things we need to be doing every day to meet the obligations we have to live the life we want to live.
However, did you know that we have an obligation to ourselves and to God in the way we live? Sure…you might be thinking as a long list of things forms in your mind of all we must do to live a normal Christian life. But this obligation is not some petty or occasional thing we feel we must do…but it is an obligation with a price tag of life or death. And if we are not seeking to fulfill this obligation our Christian life will suffer and harm our loved ones.
Here it is in Romans 8:12-13…
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”
At the end of Romans 7, Paul has shared with us his own tremendous struggle with coveting and lust. He himself had this internal battle with his flesh and he says he experienced every form of coveting or lusting. And declares that he concludes that in his flesh he was a wretched man who needed deliverance…which God was giving to him through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Then he tells us in Romans 8 that we have an obligation. And he only gives us two choices. We can allow our flesh to dominate our choices, choose to sin which will lead to death.
However, we have a 2nd option and
that is to put to death the misdeeds of the body
by means of the Spirit of God.
Now, this is a critical truth for those of us who are addicted to porn, sex, and any other sinful choices we can make that will ruin our lives.
And our obligation is clear…but not simple. If we continue to give in to our flesh and its insatiable appetite for any number of behaviors that will destroy our lives…then we will die. This reminds me of two passages…
“The wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23)
And what James tells us is at the end of the road for those who continue to give in to temptation…
“…but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
So, there are our two choices but only one obligation. The addiction that has caused our sexual brokenness, if left unchecked, will destroy our lives and harm everyone we love. Therefore, Paul tells us that our obligation is not to our flesh with its passions and desires that we have been feeding for far too long. The end of that road is death…and is that what you really want? It is what your flesh wants to do to you and will do it unless we take the opposite road.
This is why it is so absolutely essential that we feel this obligation which is for us to be putting to death the desires of our flesh. Notice that we are not told, nor can we, put to death our flesh. It is our lifetime companion which will die when our body dies.
What we are told to do and have the obligation to do is to put to death the DEEDS of the flesh. And our verse tells us that the only way that is possible is if we are putting to death the deeds of our flesh…BY MEANS OF THE SPIRIT!!!
This can and will happen as we become experts in being filled with and walking in the Spirit by a day to day and moment by moment surrendering of ourselves to Him and allowing Him to accomplish in us what we are unable to do for ourselves.
More on how to do this tomorrow…