The Believers' Obligation
Romans 8:12
Therefore, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

I. THE SOLEMN OBLIGATION OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD. We are debtors; but the flesh is not our creditor. Do we owe anything to sin, the parent of all woe? To Satan — who plotted our temptation and accomplished our downfall? To the world — ensnaring, deceitful, and ruinous? No; to these, the allies of the flesh, we owe nothing but hatred and opposition. And yet the saints of God are "debtors."

1. To the Father, for His electing love, His unspeakable gift, His spiritual blessings in Christ.

2. To the Son. He was the active agent in our redemption. He left no path untrodden, no portion of the curse unborne, no sin unatoned, no part of the law uncancelled, nothing for us in the matter of our salvation to do, but simply believe and be saved.

3. To the Holy Spirit, for leading us to Christ; for dwelling in our hearts; for His healing, sanctifying, comforting, and restoring grace; for His influence which no ingratitude has quenched; for His patience which no backsliding has exhausted; for His love which no sin has annihilated. We owe Him the intellect He has renewed, the heart He has sanctified, the body He inhabits, every breath of life He has inspired, and every pulse of love He has awakened.

II. THE DUTY TO WHICH THAT OBLIGATION BINDS THEM. Holiness, or the mortification of sin, the opposite of "living after the flesh," a subject strangely misunderstood to mean a mere maceration or mortification of the body, the mere excision of outward sins, or the destruction of sin altogether. True mortification is —

1. An annulling of the covenant with sin: "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness," no union, "but rather reprove them." "What have I to do any more with idols? "The resources of sin must be cut off: "Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." Whatever tends to, and terminates in, the sinful gratification of the flesh, is to be relinquished.

2. A crucifixion: "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh." Death by the cross is certain, yet lingering.


1. "If ye." The believer is not a cipher in this work. His usefulness, his happiness, his hope of heaven, are all included in it. The work of the Spirit is not, and never was designed to be, a substitute for the personal work of the believer. "Work out your own salvation." Let us, then, be cautious of merging human responsibility in Divine influence; of exalting the one at the expense of the other; of cloaking the spirit of slothfulness beneath an apparently jealous regard for the honour of the Holy Ghost. Is no self-effort to be made to dethrone an unlawful habit, to resist a powerful temptation, to dissolve the spell that binds us to a dangerous enchantment, to unwind the chain that makes us the slave of a wrong inclination? Oh, surely, God deals not with us as we deal with a piece of mechanism — but as reasonable, moral, and accountable beings. "I drew you with the hands of a man."

2. And it infinitely transcends the mightiest puttings forth of creative power. "If ye through the Spirit do mortify."

1. This He does by making us more sensible of the existence of indwelling sin, by deepening our aspirations after holiness, by shedding abroad the love of God in the heart. But above all, by leading us to the Cross, and showing us that, as Christ died for sin, so we must die to sin, and by the self-same instrument too.

2. The Spirit effects it, but through the instrumentality of the Atonement. There must be a personal contact with Jesus. This only is it that draws forth His grace.

(A. Winslow, D.D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

WEB: So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

The Adoption in Christ
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