To live by the spirit – Romans 8:5-8


The passage I’m preaching from today is Romans 8:5-8. I’ve titled my sermon “To live by the Spirit”

Why Roman 8:5-8?

Acts 29

The Epistle of Romans has always been very helpful in helping me understand the basic gospel doctrines, that’s also because it was written by Paul to help the churches in Rome grasp the whole truth of the gospel and its practical outworking in the life of a believer.

In the first couple of chapters, he explains what the gospel is and how we are saved by grace through faith, saved from eternal death to eternal life.

And then, he goes on to remind us that the believer’s pursuit of God doesn’t stop with salvation; it continues as each of us is sanctified—made holy—as we persist in following Him.

Romans 6:17-18 – ”But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,  and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”

In our passage from Romans 8:5-8, Paul is helping us understand the work of God by which he continues to sanctify us by explaining the life in the Spirit with life in the flesh.

What he is particularly implying in these verses is that every born-again believer ought to set their minds on the things of the spirit and that when we set our minds on the flesh we are not pleasing God resulting in not letting him do his satisfying work in our lives that will eventually bring life and peace in our lives.

In my sermon today, I want to share 3 reasons why I believe Paul is saying this –

Our walking in the Spirit is evidence that we have been justified.

Romans 8:5 states ***”*For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”

In these verses, we see a clear distinction being made between those who are saved and yet to be saved.

When God made us he intended us to live a life of fellowship and friendship with him, to love him, worship him, honour him and fulfil his purpose on this earth. Instead of walking in humble obedience, the first man and woman, Adam and Eve sinned against God and the wrath of God came upon us.

Tun with me to

In Romans 5:12 Paul writes Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

Today, what makes this life on earth so hard and full of pain and sorrow is not the mere consequences of our present actions and unpleasant circumstances in our lives, but it is the result of our broken relationship with God that took place in the garden of Eden.

But even though we sinned, rebelled, and broke our friendship with God, God remained faithful and continued to pursue us through generations making provisions for us to know him & have fellowship with him, and eventually, made a provision for us to mend our broken relationship with him by offering his only son Jesus to take our place on the cross paying the penalty of our sins.

Let’s read …

Romans 5:15-16For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.

In response to God’s grace and mercy, when we confess & repent of our sins, and trust in Jesus and his finished work on the cross, we are fully accepted, loved, and welcomed into his family. And what a wonderful privilege it is.

Galatians 4:4-6 – *But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, ****to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. ***And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

In Romans 8, verse 5, a clear distinction is made between those who live according to the flesh and those who live according to the spirit. Those who live according to the spirit are clearly those who’ve confessed their sins and have put their trust in Jesus. Therefore, our walking in the spirit is evidence that we have been justified.

Brothers & sisters, this is a very serious question we need to ask ourselves. Just because we are born in a Christian family, or being brought up in a Christian surrounding, doesn’t affirm that we are a believer. Just because we’ve said a prayer of confession in the presence of a priest or pastor doesn’t affirm we are a believer. Just because we go to church, sing Christian songs and read a few verses in the bible daily doesn’t affirm that we are a believer.

The mark of a true believer, according to the scripture is a life where the spirit of God is alive and active. Actively revealing and increasing the awareness of our sinfulness, actively revealing and increasing our awareness of God’s Holiness – and eventually leading our hearts to look at the work of Christ on the cross that helps bridge the gap between both these realities in our life.

All other Christian activities we do are good and needed but at the core of our lives if we’re not been led by the spirit in the manner mentioned above that we have to ask a serious question to ourselves. Am I really saved?

If not, then I urge you, brothers and sisters, to think seriously about it and needed please come and talk to us. We would love to sit and talk with you.

The second reason Paul is implying that a believer should set their mind on the spirit is that…

A mindset on the flesh is hostile to God & leads to death.

Romans 8:6a, 7For to set the mind on the flesh is death. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

Hostile to God means “In opposition to him, rejecting him & violating his commands”.

Here’s one way we can know the difference. If we are continually living a life that opposes God, rejects him and violates his commands then it is clearly an indication that the spirit of God is not alive and active.

But for believers, in whom the spirit is active.

The reality is that a lot of times our minds are so focused on the carnal things of the world. The mind is the battlefield where the flesh and the spirit are at war because it does not want to be crucified and surrendered to Christ, our King.

We see here though that when we set our minds on the things of the flesh, that is when we are carnally minded, gratifying the sinful desires of our flesh, whether physical or emotional and thereby, being in rebellion against God, only leads to death.

Consider what we value as important because if what we value is carnal things and we don’t concern ourselves with the eternal things that matter, it’s because we haven’t let Jesus take HIs rightful place in our hearts.

Paul tells us here to examine ourselves and be honest before God!

In Colossians 1:21 Paul says – We were once alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds” – describing our past sinful lives.

But now that we are in faith, and in the process of sanctification, we still do have tendencies of opposing God, rejecting his instructions, and pursuing our own desires. In doing so we act and respond to life as though our minds are still set on the flesh forgetting these lifeless pursuits that only leads to emptiness, discontentment, and shallow Christian living.

Often times we see such patterns and habits in our lives that lead us to pursue the things of the flesh, whether it’s comfort and pleasure or love for money, or desire for power over others.

But after spending all our time and energy, when we reach dead ends, experiencing broken hearts, broken relationships, and failures in such pursuits – only to realize how meaningless they were, and failed to give the satisfaction and fulfilment they promised.

Think about the guilty feelings after watching porn, or after committing sexual sin.

The empty feeling after getting drunk with alcohol and after giving in to the world’s ways of pursuing the false pleasures.

Think about the loneliness of life that hits us when we only are only pursuing wealth and money instead of treasuring the people in our lives, loving them & nurturing them in the Lord.

Paul is implying that a believer should set their mind on the spirit because in doing so we are reminding ourselves that we are not hostile to God anymore but are in complete agreement with his holy presence and are open to obeying him and walking in his ways because we truly believe that only pursuing God and his kingdom will give us the ultimate joy and satisfaction in life.

The third reason why Paul implies that a believer should set their mind on the spirit is that…

A mindset on the spirit brings life and peace & is pleasing to God

**Romans 8:6b – *”*but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace”

As believers, we have not just changed our status from “death” to “life.” but we have changed roads from “the road to death” to “the path of life.”

As the Holy Spirit now indwells in us, The Spirit helps us pray and intercedes for us in accordance with God’s will. He also leads us into repentance and produces a fruit of righteousness as we yield ourselves to Him. Believers are to submit to the will of God and walk in the Spirit.

Romans 8:26-27 – In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Here Paul is saying that as now we have been given a new life in the Spirit (John 3:6), we must continue to walk every day in the Spirit by submitting to Him, being sensitive to His leading in our lives, and allowing Him to be the driving force in influencing us in all aspects.

Where the flesh leads to death, meaningless and joyless pursuits, the spirit leads us to enjoy and experience life in abundance How? Because when we walk each day in the Spirit, we become fruit bearers, walking in love, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control, and peace that passeth all understanding.

In our renewed state when we set our minds on the spirit and focus on God, he enables us to walk in obedience and seek his will which eventually will glorify his name on this earth.

Therefore, in the light of the above three points, for an unbeliever in Christ – I urge that as you desire freedom from the oppression of sin and want to experience true joy and fulfilment from life, you repent of your sins and accept Christ as your personal Lord and saviour.

And for a believer, to daily remember the Gospel and point your hearts to Christ and his finished work on the cross & lean on to the spirit’s leading in your life at all times.


As I conclude, I hope and believe that you have fully understood the difference between living in the flesh and living in the spirit and that you will daily remind yourself of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit working in us that enables us to fight against the temptation and struggles of the flesh and live a victorious life in Christ.

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