This passage begins with some pretty good news, doesn’t it? Verses 1 and 2 promise that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed us from the law of sin and death. God calls us to the law of the Spirit out of love and forgiveness and offers us rebirth and renewal.
After the introductory verses, the text gets a little harder. It mentions esh or the body several times. “God condemned sin in the body by sending his own Son to deal with sin in the same body as humans, who are controlled by sin” (ceb), even going so far as to equate the body with sel shness. “[God] did this so that the righteous requirement of the Law might be ful lled in us. Now the way we live is based on the Spirit, not based on sel shness” (ceb).
That seems rather harsh, doesn’t it? Some context will help. For Paul the realm of the esh refers to the arena of sin; the realm of the Spirit re ects that which is ruled by God. The body itself is neither good nor bad. It all depends on the body’s function. When we use the body as God intends, the body is good. When the body opposes God’s intention sel shly, it becomes sinful. “People who are self-centered aren’t able to please God” (ceb)
I think the key point comes in verse 9: “But you aren’t self-centered. Instead you are in the Spirit, if in fact God’s Spirit lives in you” (ceb) and in verse 11, “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your human bodies also, through his Spirit that lives in you” (ceb).
When Paul talks about esh and spirit, he is talking about two ways of living: the life before Jesus enters and after.

Lord, remind us that when you are with us, our esh and our spirit is strong. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

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Lectionary Week
July 10–16, 2017
Scripture Overview

Genesis 25 marks the beginning of the narrative of Jacob’s life. The theme that stands out in starkest relief is the election of Jacob to be the heir to the promise—Jacob, who has no claim to be the heir except that which the grace of God bestows. Psalm 25 re ects a general sense of alienation. Yet the psalmist expresses con dence in following God’s paths and truths. Paul sets out two polarities in Romans 8: those who “live according to the flesh and those who “live according to the Spirit,” a cosmic duality related to the rule of sin and the rule of God. The parable of the sower and the seeds in Matthew 13 is an object lesson in the mysterious grace of God.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Genesis 25:19-34. When in your life have you experienced favoritism from a parent, friend, coworker, or boss that created division?
• Read Psalm 119:105-112. The psalmist promises to follow God’s law every day in every aspect of his life—despite his circumstances. When did you last renew and affirm your commitment to God through daily obedience?
• Read Romans 8:1-11. How have you attempted to fill the “God-shaped” hole in your life?
• Read Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23. What kind of soil are you? How bountiful a harvest do you produce for God?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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