Living by Grace

Dedicated to providing guidance in daily living through the power of God's grace as experienced in our union with Christ.

Obligated to Walk In the Spirit

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors; not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.  Romans 8:12

The Greek word translated “debtors” can, and should, be translated “under obligation.” The obligation to walk in the Spirit is implied because the verse is a part of a series of contrasts between walking in the flesh and walking in the Spirit. We do one or the other.

But why would Paul not be satisfied writing of the privilege of walking in the Spirit? Why would he write of obligation to do so?

The context of the verse provides multiple answers to this question. First, we have an obligation to our own spiritual and emotional welfare. Read Romans 8:13:

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

We have an obligation to God to walk in the Spirit rather than in the flesh.

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  Romans 8:7-8

We owe it to others to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.

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, the things of the Spirit.  Romans 8:5

Galatians 5:19-22 reveals that with the mind on the things of the flesh we are thinking anger, hate, divisiveness, and jealousy. But with our minds on the things of the Spirit we are thinking love, peace, meekness, patience, kindness, and gentleness.

May we think obligation as well as privilege as we consider a life of walking in the Spirit—as we live out our death, burial, and resurrection.