Imagine you were broke with crippling debt that was ruining your life and your relationships. So much so that it ran into the millions and you could never ever pay. No matter how hard you tried to dig your way out by being responsible with your spending you could never ever pay and things just got worse and worse.
Then you received some amazing news. You had a billionaire uncle whom you never knew about who came along and wiped out your debts, forever! Not momentarily but forever, all debt, past present and future, underwritten, scored off, gone! Not only has your uncle removed your debt but his treasury is available to you! Everything that is his has become yours and you are no man’s debtor. Now your uncle set you free from debt for a reason, he cares about you, about the choices you make and your motivations of your heart. He wants you to use your new found freedom to tackle the habits that led to you to be in such debt in the first place, You have an obligation to live in accordance with your new status, His treasury is open to you and he has equipped you with everything you need to do this. Only in you new found freedom, you chose to still live like a debtor.
The idea is absurd isn’t it?….living like a debtor when in reality you are the richest person on the planet. Yet this is exactly how many Christians choose to live. The treasury of God has been opened up to us to put to death the misdeeds of the body, yet we don’t always seem to live that way. We get discouraged by our sin and we question if radical transformation to increasing godliness is really possible in this life. Make no mistake the law of sin and death at work in our mortal bodies is still powerful (Rom 7:14-25), but the Scrptures assure us that we have been given everything we need for growth in godliness (2 Pet 1-3). Why then do we so often live like debtors and not according to our new status.
- Forgetfulness. The Apostle Peter says we continue to struggle with growth in holiness because we suffer from a kind of spiritual myopia. We are so near sighted that we forget that we were cleansed from our former sins (2 Pet 1:5-9). This forgetfulness is why we live like debtors when we should be living according to our new status in Christ, That is why it is so important to remind ourselves of our new identity every waking morning.
- Obligation – It may be that some Christians have not been taught that they have been saved for a reason, which is to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law through the Spirit (Rom 8:4). People are so caught up in the glorious truth of Rom 8:1 that they forget about their obligation. According to Paul, we have a worship obligation to live in accordance with our new status (Rom 8:12). There is a difference between living in the realm of the spirit and living according to the Spirit and here is where our Christian obligation comes in. Remember we have been set free for a reason. God doesn’t just want Christians to know they are free from the fear of condemnation (Rom 8:15), he wants them to experience life, to be led by his Spirit, to access his treasury and put to death sin. He doesn’t just want us to live in the sphere of the Spirit but to live according to the Spirit. We are rich, We are free to have our minds set on the Spirit, to be led by the Spirit, and not to live like slaves, we are to use the treasury available to us.
Cultivating a Spirit mindset
If it is by the Spirit that we put to death the misdeeds of the body then that raises some important questions, practically speaking how do we set our minds on the things of the Spirit? How do we cultivate a Spirit- led, Spirit filld disposition of heart and mind, necessary if we are to live in a way that pleases God?
- Know your Bible – Perspectives determine our priorities. How you see the world and your place within it will determine your priorities and dictate your investments. For example, If you knew a big company was going to go under you probably wouldn’t invest money in shares. Similarly having a biblical worldview will reorient your priorities and investments. As your view of the world is shaped by the bible’s revelation you will begin to comprehend the love of God in Christ Jesus. This is essential in cultivating a Spirit filled disposition of mind because Paul connects comprehending the love of God with being filled with all the fullness of God. There is an intrinsic link between knowing the love of God and being filled with the fullness of God. (Eph 3:17-19)
- Prayer and Petition – Prayer focuses the mind on God and brings clarity of thought. We need to pray regularly if we are to go on being filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18). Jesus taught us that God is a generous Father who knows how to give good gifts to his children but how often do we ask God to give us more of His Spirit? “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13) Are we regularly asking God for more of His Spirit?
- Christian Community. – We are shaped and nurtured by our surroundings. In his excellent book How people change Paul Trip says that “Christian growth to maturity is a community project.” It’s in the Christian community that we experience the Spirits power – as we are welcomed in communion with Him, we are called into community with one another. This community is one of Gods primary instruments of radical personal growth. He calls us to a lifestyle of mutual service. He calls us to love one another as He has loved us. He calls us to confess, teach, restore, forgive, love, encourage, confront, give, sacrifice, rescue, protect, and serve. He warns us that this community is not a luxury for a few, but is essential for each one of us. “He calls us to live as if we actually believe that our walk with Him is a community project.” And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,