But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit[i] is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you. So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
These are powerful, life changing verses. What does it mean to be in the Spirit?
Verse 9 tells us we are no longer in the flesh but because of righteousness (being made right with God through Christ’s death), we are ‘life’, we are alive in the Spirit. It has nothing to do with who we are or what we have done, but it is everything to do with Jesus and His sacrifice. The Spirit was in Jesus and raised him from death. It is exactly the same Spirit who now has taken up residence in our lives, because we believe. It is so simple to believe. It is not supposed to be hard. It is the easiest, least complicated mindset that we can choose to live. Choose to live these verses. Then, by the Holy Spirit within you, your body will move away from things that are not good for you and you will be led forwards into righteousness, holiness, healing, power, faith, trust and an unfathomable knowledge of who God is for you.
‘Abba’ is so much more than a substitute for the word father. In Aramaic it means it conveys a depth of devotion, endearment, longing-to-be-with cherishing that our English word cannot convey. To be a child of God is about belonging, a deep closeness, enfolding and being enveloped by God’s never ending love. I heard recently that understanding God’s love is like falling backwards into a great big pile of soft laundry that has just come out of the drier. Burying into the warm, comforting folds of soft sheets, which fill every inch of space around you, is like burying our lives into the heart of God. It’s a great way to teach children to pray and physically feel how much they are loved. Maybe we should try it too? In childlike abandon, to dwell deeply on and fathom the mystery of what it means to live life in the Spirit.
Abba! Right now I let myself fall into the comfort of your heart feeling the warmth and softness of your hold; the joy of knowing I am loved. There is no need to understand you, I just embrace the mystery of your love. I cherish you, Holy Spirit, your presence within me. Nurture, guide, sustain and energise me for the day ahead. Amen.
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