There are two ways to walk according to Paul – two ways to live this life. One way is the way of the flesh. The other is the way of the Spirit.
[Romans 8:5 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. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 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. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.]
Paul discussed the distinction between the flesh and the Spirit in chapter 7. I think that the flesh is the natural person who has not trusted God and who serves sin (the law or law of sin). The Spirit is the Holy Spirit, which God gives us when we trust him. The Spirit serves God (law of faith or law of God). I believe that Paul uses different terminology, which I included in parentheses, because it is difficult for one expression to capture the whole meaning of what he is trying to say. When you first encounter the different terms it seems confusing, but I believe that over the course of the book of Romans the different terms give us a more full understanding of what Paul is describing.
After talking with a friend last night I thought it was important to ask this question: is a Christian a person who only serves God (albeit imperfectly) or is the believer conflicted, part of him serving sin and part of him serving God? The answer to this question will guide your interpretation of Romans 7:13-14, Romans 7:15-20, Romans 21-25, through Romans 8 and beyond.
I believe that the Christian is conflicted and that Paul is talking about himself as a Christian in Romans 7-8. I view the above passage as a Christian who lives according to the flesh when he sins and lives according to the Spirit when he serves God. What do you think?
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