Romans 8:12-17

Have you ever failed to recognize that all you needed was right in front of you? Have you spent half the morning looking for your car keys, only to realize they were in your pocket? Years ago, a Peruvian fishing vessel encountered a Spanish ship anchored at sea off the coast of Brazil, with dozens of sailors languishing on the decks from thirst. As the Peruvians approached, they could hear the Spaniard’s cry out, “Water! We need water!” A Peruvian replied, just lower your bucket! The Spaniards replied, “No, this is salt water. We need fresh water!” The Peruvians replied, “Just lower your buckets! You’re in fresh water!” You see, Spaniards failed to recognize that they had anchored in the mouth of the mighty Amazon River and fresh water was all around them. 

You Need the Spirit’s Help
As believers, we tend to forget that all we need is right in front of us. If you are in Christ, I want you to know that you are sailing in an ocean of fresh water, and you may not know it. Perhaps today as you read this magazine, you are spiritual languishing. Your lips are too parched to sing. Your eyes are too spiritually fatigued to see. Your heart is too spiritually dehydrated to engage. If this is you, God has a powerful word from you in Romans 8:12-17. He has given you His Holy Spirit. All that you need you already have in Him.

You Need the Spirit’s Help to Slay Sin
In Romans 8:12-13, Paul reminds us that in Christ, the penalty of sin has been paid, the power of sin has been broken, but the presence of sin in our lives yet remains. Therefore, you must see the need to slay sin in your life. The Great Puritan John Owen agrees, “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.” You know this to be true. Bitterness betrays you. Covetousness consumes you. Deviant desire destroys you. Jealousy jades you. You know the need. But do you know how? Romans 8:13 teaches us that this is only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit: “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” This is principally done in two ways.

Focus on the Spirit
First, you must focus on the Spirit: “Those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5). That is, you must depend God in continuous prayer, asking Him to conform your mind, change your heart, and motivate you to slay sin. You cannot expect to “put to death the deeds of the body…by the Spirit” if your mind is not set on the Spirit.

Fight with the Sword of the Spirit
Second, you must fight the fight of faith with the Sword of the Spirit. In Ephesians 6:17, Paul describes the Bible as the only offensive weapon God gives His children. We must wield it to slay sin. Sin is attractive. It is alluring. We naturally desire it. We naturally crave it. It is attractive. It is enticing. We are not naturally repulsed by it. We love it. The Bible, like a Sword, cuts sin’s veneer away and reveals what lies beneath and within: death, decay, destruction. It reveals sin to be what it really is. If you want victory in slaying sin in your life, take up God’s Word daily and watch the Spirit conform your mind to love Christ and hate sin.

A Final Reminder
Paul’s prescription to slay sin is your prescription. Just as ignoring a doctor’s prescription in flu season endangers both yourself and others, so ignoring Paul’s prescription endangers your soul, your family, and your community. Unrepentant sin will wreck your family, your marriage, and your witness. You need help. Thanks be to God He has given us all we need in the Holy Spirit of God.