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LET US LIVE ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT, NOT ACCORDING TO THE FLESH
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Saturday, 29th Week of the Year, October 26, 2013
Rom. 8:1-11, Ps. 23, Luke 13:1-9


"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1).


If we are in Christ Jesus, we are not condemned by God for our sins, because Christ bore our condemnation by God for our sins for us in his death on the cross. This is because "God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us" (Rom. 8:3-4). In other words, God sent his Son in the form of our flesh because of our sins so that he could condemn and punish our sins in Christ's flesh on the cross. In this way the law that the sinner should die for his sins (Gen. 2:17; Ezek. 18:20; Rom. 6:23) was fulfilled for us in Christ's flesh on the cross. We are therefore freed from God's condemnation of us, for Christ was condemned and punished in his flesh instead of us for our sins, fulfilling the law for us, bearing the curse of the law for us (Gal. 3:10, 13), and so freeing us from this curse, from this condemnation, for our sins. Indeed, "God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us" (Rom. 8:3-4).


So now that we are freed from the condemnation of God's law for our sins, we can live in a new way in this world. We can live according to the Spirit, and no longer according to the desires of the flesh. The man who does not know Christ does not have the power to resist the inclination to sin that is in his flesh (Rom. 7:18-19). But now that we have been freed by Christ from our past sins, we have the power of the Spirit and can and should crucify the desires of the flesh, for "those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (Gal. 5:24). Hence "if we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit" (Gal. 5:25). So "walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16). God gives us the power of his Spirit to walk in this new way, but we have to make the decision and the effort to do so.


So there are two completely different ways of living in this world, namely according to the Spirit, or according to the flesh. We can walk according to the Spirit if we are in Christ, for the Spirit gives us the power to vanquish the temptations of the flesh. But we must decide which path we are going to follow, that of the Spirit, or that of the flesh. But let it be known that "to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace" (Rom. 8:6). Indeed, "those who are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom. 8:8). "If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live" (Rom. 8:13). So which way will you choose, the way of life, or the way of death?


To live in conformity with the Spirit is to live a simple life, loving God with all our heart (Mark 12:30), serving only one master (Matt. 6:24), and having only one treasure (Matt. 6:19-21). It is to lose our life in this world for the sake of Christ, not to save it in a worldly way (Mark 8:35). It is a life of self-denial, for "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matt. 16:24-25 NKJV). Seeking the pleasures of the world is the way of the flesh, for "he who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (John 12:25).


Let us, therefore, live according to the Spirit, not according to the flesh.

 

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