Very, very early in our married life, Sue and I were instructed on the merits of living debt free. Just 3 or 4 months after we were married, we were at a couples retreat and heard some very practical principles on living within your means. I don’t remember much about that retreat other than, as we drove away that day, we had a conversation about adopting a budget and avoiding debt. Good counsel . . . But this morning I’m reminded of a debt I do have . . . one which I need to service . . .
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact 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, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors . . . (Romans 8:9-12 ESV)
Yesterday, I was thinking about walking in a minefield. This morning I awake to the victor’s shout that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (8:1) . . . and I’m reminded that, while I am not free yet of the old man . . . that, while I still need to navigate the minefield of the flesh . . . that, in Christ Jesus, I have been set free from needing to navigate it on my own (8:2) . . . and that I have now been equipped to walk “according to the Spirit” (8:4). I have been re-wired internally . . . . my spiritual DNA regenerated . . . and I have been equipped thoroughly with “the Spirit of Him who raised Christ from the dead” (8:11) . . . that I am “in the Spirit” because the Spirit of God is in me (8:9).
Resurrection power has taken up residence within me. And, beyond that, He is also the Spirit of “life and peace” (8:6) . . . He is the Spirit of adoption assuring me of the reality of my “Abba! Father!” relationship with the God of Creation (8:15) . . . He is the One who helps me in my weakness and prays on my behalf when I can’t muster the words (8:26) . . . and He intercedes for me according to the will of God (8:27).
As such, says Paul, I am a debtor . . . no longer to the old man, not to the natural man, not to the man of flesh . . . but to ways of the Spirit of God within me.
I’m in debt . . . I owe . . . I have an obligation . . . to live in the freedom I have been given through the finished work of Christ which translated me from the “the law of sin and death” and into the new realm of “the law of the Spirit of life” (8:2).
And I “service” this debt, not with some minimum weekly payment, but as I desire, by His grace, to learn to walk “according to the Spirit” (8:4) and to set my mind on “the things of the Spirit” (8:5-6). And I service this debt with no hope of ever repaying it because God has so out-graced anything I might try and come up with. And I service this debt because it is the way of life and of freedom. I seek to service the debt because, in so doing, I will know the reality of rivers of living water flowing out of my very being (John 4:38-39).
O’ glorious debt that is mine. To awake every morning and enter the day with the anticipation that I can encounter the living God . . . and the risen Christ . . . because of the indwelling presence of the Spirit who delights to lead me. I owe it to Him to let Him lead. Amen?
“O to grace how great a debtor . . . Daily I’m constrained to be! Let Thy goodness, like a fetter . . . Bind my wandering heart to Thee.”
–– Come Though Fount of Every Blessing, Robert Robinson, 1735-1790