Formations lesson for March 13: Living in the Spirit : Friday, Feb. 25, 2005
February 25 2005 by Jeffrey Wisdom

Formations lesson for March 13: Living in the Spirit : Friday, Feb. 25, 2005
Friday, Feb. 25, 2005

Formations lesson for March 13: Living in the Spirit

By Jeffrey Wisdom
Focal passage: Romans 8:6-11

"Life is a game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, words and deeds return to us sooner or later with astounding accuracy" artist and author Florence Scovel Shinn wrote.

Plumb line

I recently asked a class of adult learners to define the word ethics. Their responses ranged from subjective moral-isms, to quotes for social acceptance, to truisms of political correctness. Ethics, however, is none of those. Ethics is a branch of philosophy that deals with right and wrong behavior. Ethics implies a standard of judgment that asks for an existing norm that defines what is right and what is wrong.

For Christians, that norm is God - He is the plumb line by which all things are measured. "And the Lord said unto me, 'Amos, what seest thou?' And I said a plumb line. Then said the Lord, 'Behold, I will set a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel: I will not pass by them any more'" (Amos 7:7-8). God's standard is the straight way and the narrow gate (Matt. 7:13-14).

In the Spirit

Rom. 8:6-9

Likewise, there are only two ways to live spiritually - in the Spirit or outside of it. To argue otherwise marginalizes both. "To be carnally minded is death: but to be spiritually minded is life and peace ... But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man [has] not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His" (Rom. 8: 6, 9).

Living ethically

Rom. 8:10

Though scripture holds to a black and white relationship with God, it also acknowledges the difficulty one faces when trying to live an ethical or spiritually disciplined life. "And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin: but the Spirit is life because of righteousness" (v.10).

In a perfect world, things would be clearly right and wrong. That world, however, disappeared years ago (Gen. 2-3). In its place is an inherent struggle to live a life clearly for God. It is not a matter of moralisms and truisms, but of the inward struggles of one's conscience and faith. The Apostle Paul wrote, "For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not: but what I hate, that I do" (7:15).

Plumb by grace

Rom. 8:11

Understanding that you and I will always struggle to live a life that plumbs, how can we confidently express our relationship with God? We do so by His grace that constantly reanimates our lives and our relationship with Him. "But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, that He raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you" (8:11).

Our lives, however ethical, will always come up short of God's measurement. It is in our nature. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (3:23). Each of us will struggle with faith when it becomes marginalized - slipping off the path of right.

In the struggle to live rightly, remember that there is right and there is wrong, and there is God's grace. "Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life" (6:4). That, in part, is what "living in the Spirit" means.

2/25/2005 12:00:00 AM by Jeffrey Wisdom | with 0 comments

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