Part IV: The Charge
Scripture makes it clear that every person born of the Holy Spirit has the victory over sin and death because of the sacrificial life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, our Savior and Lord.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)
Notice the victory is for those who “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Every born-again believer needs to believe and appropriate that victory before they will experience the rewards of the victory. It is like someone telling you that a meal has been prepare for you. Unless you believe it and take steps to eat it, you will not receive the benefit of what has already been prepared.
“God commendeth [demonstrated] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus destroyed the works of the devil (I John 3:8) and gave us the Holy Spirit power to live a victorious life (Romans 8:11). He could not have done more for us and still maintain respect for our free will to choose to believe or not to believe, to act upon the promises of God, or to act upon circumstances and fleshly perceptions.
While what was accomplished for us by Jesus through His life, death, and resurrection is a past event, walking in the provision of Christ is not a one-time event or experience. Walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh is a daily, even a moment by moment, choice. That is why the Apostle Paul commands us to “exhort one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13), to be strong in the Lord and the power of His might (Ephesians 6: 10), to reckon ourselves dead to sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:11), to put off the old man and put on the new man (Ephesians 4:22-24), and numerous other exhortations related to walking in “newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
Paul’s charges to believers are based upon Jesus’ own words:
Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. (Mark 8:34-35)
And he said to them all, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. (Mark 14:27)
So likewise, whosoever he be of you that foresaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (Mark 14:33)
Taking up the cross is surrendering and forsaking (considering dead) the fleshly desires. It is turning toward and following the way of Christ. It is putting off the old man and putting on the new man. It is walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh.
There is good reason why the Apostle Paul prefaces his charge to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” with the plea: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). Not only is the surrendering of the flesh to the direction of the Holy Spirit a response of gratefulness for all that God has done for us, but it is also a necessary step to the renewing of the mind.
Recognizing that the flesh wars against Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, motivates each of us to appropriate by faith the victory over the flesh won by Christ, and to die daily to the flesh and walk in the Spirit. With that mindset we can fulfill the charge to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,” and experience the joy and peace of being able to “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). The renewing of your mind is not a one-time event. It is life-long endeavor that begins afresh each day of your life, building upon the wisdom and understanding from the previous days.