For if you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live.
I. WITHOUT GOD, ENDLESS CONFLICT.
1. "The body" or "the flesh" (Romans 7:25; Galatians 5:17) or "the earthly members" (Colossians 3:5; Romans 8:23).
(1) Is regarded as the source of —
(a) Our animal appetites (Galatians 5:19, "fornication," etc.).
(b) Our selfish passions (Galatians 5:20, "hatred," etc.).
(c) Our mental perversities (Galatians 5:20, "idolatry," etc.) —all those false notions which are called (Ephesians 2:3) the working of the understanding that judges according to sense, as distinguished from the pure reason (Romans 1:21).
(2) All these workings of "the flesh" are sinful, i.e. "abnormal, contrary to the end for which God has made us" (Romans 7:14, 18).
2. "The spirit," "the mind," "the inward man" (Romans 7:22, 23) is the source of our —
(1) Moral principles (Romans 7:22; Matthew 26:41).
(2) Social affections (Galatians 5:22).
3. These workings of "the Spirit" are in endless conflict with the workings of the flesh (Galatians 5:17; Romans 8:7-25), but with no sufficient power to overcome them (Romans 7:18, 19; Matthew 26:41); so that the result is only self-contradiction, self-condemnation, misery, and death (Romans 7:24).
II. WITH GOD, FINAL VICTORY (vers. 2-4). "The deeds of the body," or "works of the flesh" (Galatians 5:19), mean the products of our lower nature, whether of thought, or feeling, or act. To "mortify," "crucify" (Galatians 5:24), "deaden" them (Colossians 3:5), is to reduce them to impotence. Observe the antithesis: If ye put to death your animal nature, you yourself, who are spirit, shall live. And this death of sin is to be effected by the life of God in the soul.
1. Raise us above sin. God's Spirit in us raises us into the region of spirit. And in this atmosphere sin cannot reach us (1 John 5:18). The thought of sin is most alien when the thought of God is most vivid. In fellowship with holy men, how hateful sin appears! How much more, therefore, when in fellowship with the Holy One? Aaron down in the plain was soon seduced from God's commandments. Moses in the mount grasped them firmly with both hands. Whence the importance of prayer (Matthew 17:21).
2. Hearten us against sin (ver. 15). Knowing that we are on God's side, we know also that God is on our side (Genesis 6:24; Numbers 19:9; 2 Kings 6:16; Isaiah 41:10). And so the animation of Moses fills us: "Fear not I Stand still, and see the salvation God can work" (Exodus 14:13, 14). Jesus, full of the spirit of Sonship, put back easily all the suggestions of the tempter.
3. Make us triumphant over sin. The things impossible to man by himself are possible to him with God (1 John 4:4; Ephesians 6:10; Philippians 4:13).
Parallel VersesKJV: For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.