– for if you are living (Gr. present tense) = habitually = the “direction” of your life!) according to (Greek = kata which conveys the idea of subject to, dominated by or under the power of) the flesh (the old “Adamic nature” – anti-God inclination), you must (will) die; but (term of contrast) = striking contrast – What’s the change of direction?) if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For (term of explanation) = What’s Paul explaining?) all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
NLT (New Living Translation – a relatively good paraphrase – but never use a paraphrase as your primary Bible) is helpful – “For if you live by its dictates (I like this verb because it depicts the flesh as a ruthless dictator that seeks to draw us into bondage), you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.”
IN Ro 8:13 WHAT IS THE BELIEVER’S RESPONSIBILITY? WHAT IS THE SPIRIT’S PROVISION?
Our responsibility is to put sin to death (cf Paul’s command in Col 3:5). The Spirit’s provision is that He enables us, giving us the desire to kill sin and the power to kill sin. Notice that “putting to death” is which means this is a daily “activity” (even moment by moment), because as we have learned in Galatians 5:17 there is an ongoing, unceasing war within our body.
Puritan John Owen asked “Do you mortify? Do you make it your daily work? Be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you….Let no man think to kill sin with few, easy, or gentle strokes. He who hath once smitten a serpent, if he follow not on his blow until it be slain, may repent that ever he began the quarrel. And so he who undertakes to deal with sin, and pursues it not constantly to the death….The vigor and power and comfort of our spiritual life depends on our mortification of deeds of the flesh.” (If you have never read Owen’s classic, you might consider reading Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers).
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE BEING LED BY THE SPIRIT?
You are enabled to put to death those godless deeds the flesh tempts you to carry out (James 1:14). The fallen flesh continually sets “its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit (continually sets its desire) against the flesh, for these (two) are in (continually) opposition to one another” until the day our body is glorified! (Gal 5:17
WHAT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY IF WE ARE BEING LED BY THE SPIRIT?
Yield, follow, submit, die to self, surrender to the Spirit. Our responsibility is to be willing to manifest a willingness to be led by Him.
WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE THAT WE ARE SONS OF GOD?
We are continually putting to death sin (as our habitual practice). And remember this is about “direction” not “perfection!” Conversely, those who are not sons of God give evidence by continually “living according to the flesh!”
AS AN ASIDE, WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE IN GALATIANS 5 THAT WE ARE BEING LED BY THE SPIRIT?
Paul gave us a general checklist of evil deeds in Galatians 5:19-21-and he says “the deeds of the flesh are evident.” In other words these deeds are not hard for us to recognize. And notice that some of these sins are not of the more “gross” variety (“enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying”). On the other hand the fruit of the Spirit is described in Gal 5:22-23The upshot is that we by doing a personal inventory we can discern whether we are putting sin to death by the Spirit, walking by the Spirit, or being led by the Spirit. And since sanctification is a process (not an arrival), while our life should evidence a steady decrease in the sins in Gal 5:19-21 and a steady increase in the fruit in Gal 5:22-23. But don’t place yourself under the law if you fail. Put it under the “blood,” confessing your failure (1Jn 1:9). Arise and begin walking again by the Spirit, willing to be led by Him. So while periodic failures will be part of our sanctification process in this life, Paul gives a strong warning that if our lives are ONLY characterized by the sins in Gal 5:19-21 (“those who practice [prasso in the present tense= habitually, as their lifestyle, their “direction”] such things”) we will not inherit the Kingdom of God. In other words, that person has never truly been born again, regardless of their profession. It is not profession of Jesus which saves, but possession of Jesus and His Spirit’s possession of us!
In the Webster’s Thesaurus a synonym for praxis is habit which is especially illuminating in Romans 8:13. Before we were saved we all had praxis or habits and many if not most were bad (evil). Now that we are saved we are to submit to the Spirit, trust His enabling power and put to death or kill those evil habits. And if you are like me, those old “ruts in the road” of my mind die off very slowly and unwillingly and too often seem to come back to life! Don’t be discouraged but occasional lapses into these old ways, but trust the Spirit to lead you in the right direction and over time the habit will have less and less of a hold on your heart and mind. Praise God!
Don’t be discouraged when you fail to put an old evil habit to death immediately! BELIEVERS WILL SIN and if you took a SNAPSHOT at one point in time it might look like they were living according to the flesh but we need to VIEW THE FULL MOVIE of their life! What is their direction? I am reminded of an OT promise by God to the nation of Israel of what He would do for them as they went in to Canaan to possess their possessions (they went in to possess a land, we walk forth to possess a life! Moses wrote “And the LORD your God will clear away these nations (evil, anti-God with evil practices analogous to our old flesh!) before you little by little; you will not be able to put an end to them quickly, lest the wild beasts grow too numerous for you.” (Dt 7:22) ?)