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Romans VII Contrast

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The Eighth Chapter of Romans describes the identification of the two types of humanity: those who walk “after the flesh”; and those who walk “after the Spirit” (v 1). I think this discussion should begin with what Paul may have intended to mean by “walk after.” One might interpret this to relate to how one lives and another, how one desires to live, that is, we can seek to live according to the Spirit of God, but desire and do are not the same because the former leads to the latter.

Initially all reborn (since the days of the Apostles) are at the “babe in Christ” (1Cor 3:1) point of maturity and begin to grow into “Christ’s image” by manifesting the desire for “the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1Pe 2:2). Though the primary objective of redemption in the Lord Jesus is fully complete (salvation does not admit in degrees) at rebirth, “growing up into Him in all things” (Eph 4:15) is God’s work of “conformation” (Rom 8:29; 2Co 3:18) for the remnant of our earthly lives.

One who is reborn will soon become aware of an ominous presence “to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phl 2:13). Scripture teaches the reality of this presence (new nature or new man) is genuine in the fact that this overwhelming desire to please God, though repeatedly interrupted within believers, ever remains with them (Mat 24:13; Heb 10:38). Therefore, from rebirth to our rest or rapture, believers are continually manifesting by their lives a walk and desire after the Spirit.

Those who are unregenerate cannot “walk after the Spirit,” nor can those regenerated “walk after the flesh.” The intention of the word “walk” is in reference to that which one seeks above all things. Though there will be times of sin in the lives of the believers due to their indwelling of old man, their overall desire is to please God. This defines walking after the Spirit, which will be manifested in the lifestyles of the saints.

The Lord Jesus proclaimed that “a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (Luke 6:43). He also indicated “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt (Mat 12:33). James reiterated this when he wrote that “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter . . . . So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh (3:11, 12).

Seeking to live according to the sin nature (flesh) reveals domination of the old man and therefore manifests one who has not been redeemed. Being free from the “reign” and dominion” of sin (Rom 6:12, 14) to me means the old man can no longer cause the believer to "sin willfully" (Heb 10:26), or intentionally “serve sin” (Rom 7:25).

The will and desire of the saints to please God supersedes the desires of the old man in them, for God considers them being after the Spirit, as they “are not after the flesh” (Rom 8:9). No believer can live after the flesh and after the Spirit.

I think most of the confusion here lies with the deceptiveness of imitation. One can appear to be after the Spirit, but cannot continue to do so permanently if not reborn! As it is known, “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light,” and that which false professors do will eventually be made manifest “according to their works” (2Co 11:14, 15).

If those reborn can “be carnally minded,” they abide in “death,” which not only conflicts with “to be spiritually minded is life” (8:6, 13), but also with the Lord’s declaration of “whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die” (Jhn 11:26).

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