So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.--Romans 8:12 (ESV)
Romans 8 is, in my opinion, one of the most inspiring chapters in the Bible. It is filled with the truth of the gospel and its application to Christians' lives. So far, Paul has written about (1) God's forgiveness of our sins, (2) God's setting us free from the flesh, (3) God's condemnation and weakening of the flesh, (4) God's filling us with His Spirit, and (5) God's future resurrection of the saints. So when Paul writes, "So then, brothers, we are debtors," he's saying that we owe God for giving us these humanly unattainable gifts of grace.
We owe God everything. We depend on Him for everything; He provides everything. Even our very lives (both our mortal and eternal lives) depend on Him. We can't set a value to God's gifts of grace. If Bill Gates gave me a house worth one million dollars, I would owe him one million dollars. I could quantify the gift and work towards paying it back. If I worked hard and saved furiously, I might even be able to pay him back after many years. However, we cannot do this with God's gifts to us. They are too large for us to comprehend, let alone pay for. Yet, according to Paul, we still must try to pay what we can back to God by living according to his Spirit.
Paul says, "We are debtors." Every debtor has an obligation to pay back his debt. If after Bill Gates gave me a million dollars, I ignored Bill Gates and started paying money to Steve Jobs, I would be doing a pretty stupid thing--I wouldn't be paying back my debt, I would be helping my benefactor's enemy! Yet all too often, I take God's gifts with an ungrateful heart and turn them to the flesh's use. For some reason, I often think that I owe the flesh something. But what has the flesh given me? "The wages of sin are death," says Romans 6:23. The flesh has given me corruption and ruin and depravity and sickness and death. I owe the flesh nothing, indeed, he's my sworn enemy.
We owe God everything. We are obligated by our debt to live according to God's Spirit. In the next post (hopefully I'll put it up tomorrow), I'm going to share a picture of how we can pay back God for his gifts by fighting the flesh with His Spirit.