“The mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 7:5)
Romans 8 is a key chapter about life in the Spirit. And to understand it, we need the background of Romans 6-7.
In these chapters, the apostle Paul explains that before life in the Spirit occurs, we need to give up trying to control our own lives. We need to be “crucified” with Christ so that we are no longer “slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6). We also need to realize that when we live as slaves to sin — and this includes trying to live by God’s law on our own — we will always fail. We will find that (1) we cannot do the good that we want to do, and (2) we will keep on doing the bad that we do not want to do (Romans 7:14-23).
Is there any way we can be freed from this mess? “Thanks be to God!” Yes! (Romans 7:25) — and only by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. When we trust in God’s power to save us, we receive new life in the Spirit, and we depend on the Spirit to lead and guide us always.
If we are governed or controlled “by the flesh,” that means we are trying to live by our own strength or under our own direction. Every day, we need to ask the Spirit to fill us and direct us.
Life in the Spirit means that the Holy Spirit accomplishes what we cannot do ourselves. Just as we must depend on and trust in God’s grace through Jesus to save us, so we must depend on and trust the Spirit to guide and govern us each day. And in his power we no longer struggle but find rest.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, help us to depend completely on your power to save us and to guide us. Amen.