Lots of terms come to mind to describe the believer like . . . well, like believer. Or saint. Or brother or sister. Child of God. Disciple. Redeemed. New creation. You get the idea. And I’m sure we could add to the list if we noodled on it a bit.
But this morning I encountered a synonym for the believer in Romans 8 that I don’t really consider often, as in, very rarely. Certainly not a term I’m quick to use. But one worth chewing on, I think.
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, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.
(Romans 8:11-12 ESV)
So then, brothers (and you too, sisters), we are debtors. Hmmm . . .
In Romans 8, Paul masterfully paints a magnificent picture of the potential of the life that can be lived in Christ through the Spirit. A life of freedom (8:1). A life of peace (8:6). A life of adoption (8:15). A life of power (8:26). A life of promise (8:28). And all this life, through the Spirit who “dwells in you” (8:11).
Sure, we have the option, and the ever present opportunity, to take all this new potential and saddle it with old pursuits, continuing to live according to the old ways. We can still set our mind on the things of the flesh. We can still pursue that which ultimately results in death. But Paul says we no longer have to. We have no enduring obligation to the old nature. No duty to the old ways limited by the old man.
But now, in Christ, we can walk in the Spirit. And to that end, I’m reminded this morning, I have an obligation. To that, I am duty bound. I owe it to the One who has freely given me new life, with new promise, and new power, to walk in that new life, that new promise, and that new power. I owe it to Him!
I am a debtor to the potential within me. Not a potential of my own making, but His. Not for my boasting, but for His glory.
So, how do I repay this debt? How do I live as a debtor to the Spirit? First, by just wanting to realize this new potential and live life according to the Spirit (8:4). And then, by taking steps that regularly help me set my mind on things of the Spirit (8:5). By determining, with as much as lies within me, to submit my will to His will, wanting to walk according to His leading (8:14). Along the way trusting in the Spirit to help in times of weakness and to intercede in times of uncertainty and confusion (8:26-27).
There really is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (8:1). Praise God! And that, because the Spirit of life has set me free (8:2).
Free to be a debtor.
By His grace. For His glory.