By Julian Wells
“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6 NIV)
I believe one of the greatest failings of the modern church is not emphasizing enough the work of the Holy Spirit in living the life we are called to live. We absolutely cannot live it successfully in our own strength. Preceding these verses in Chapter 8 of his letter to the Romans, Paul talked very candidly about his own struggles in that regard, confessing, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:19 NIV)
Who among us has not nodded our head in affirmation when we read those words? More than any other New Testament writer, Paul spoke of the ongoing battle within each one of us between the flesh and the Spirit, addressing it again in his letter to the Galatians.
In both letters he makes it clear that the key to victory in that internal battle lies in the person of the Holy Spirit, writing in Galatians 5:16-17, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.”
Upon confessing his struggles with the flesh in Romans 7, Paul mentions the Spirit no less than 21 times in Romans 8. And yet, sadly, in my experience, the one that Paul describes as “Christ in you, the hope of glory” in Colossians 1:27 is the most neglected person of the Trinity today. And his power lies untapped in the lives of far too many Christians.
Perhaps that explains why the impact of the church today falls so short of the standard set by those early believers who turned their world “upside down.” (Acts 17:6)
“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.” – A.W. Tozer