Last week, I started my June Good Life update HERE and HERE. This is part 3 of the series, and I want to share with you what Paul told us about living the Good Life in his letter to the Romans. We’re almost halfway through the year, and now we’re getting somewhere.
Living in the Spirit. Paul quickly tells us, “the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:2 NLT. Then he reminds us about our sinful nature and how we are controlled by what we choose to do. “Letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” Romans 8:6 NLT.
A life of peace sounds like a pretty good life to me. It reminded me of what Jesus said: “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you… the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.” John 14:26-27 NLT. It looks like Jesus was telling us that we have peace because of his sacrifice and that when Jesus leaves, the Spirit will bring us peace.
Paul appears to understand what Jesus was talking about, and then he explained it to us. Paul tells us that the Spirit he is referring to is the Spirit of God and Christ. (ch8 v9) He explains what and who the Spirit is in verses10-17.
Paul further assures us that nothing can separate us from God. (ch8 v31-39) Combined with all things he just outlined, this is making our foundation pretty solid.
How we live the Good Life. We begin by accepting that Jesus is the Christ, sent to bring us salvation. This was the point of part 2 of this series. Then we follow the instructions that Paul gave us in chapters 11 through 15.
In chapter 11, he tells us that God’s mercy is for everyone. (ch11 v25-36) This means that anyone can believe in Jesus and receive the saving grace that Jesus offered. He reassures us again that God won’t take it away. (ch11 v 29) That’s pretty fantastic because we all do some pretty messed-up things sometimes.
Once Paul gets through the tough stuff, he tells us to be “a living and holy sacrifice” to God. Romans 12:1 NLT. What the heck does this mean? A google search reveals that holy a holy person is one devoted to the service of God. Okay. Well, how does that look? Paul tells us.
- Don’t be like the rest of the world (ch12 v2)
- Let God transform you by changing the way you think (v2)
- Be humble (v3)
- Don’t mistreat yourself (v3)
- Look for your purpose (v4-5)
- Use your gifts well (v6-8)
- Love others. Really love others. (v9)
- Hold on tight to what is good. (v9)
- Be respectful and affectionate. (v10)
- Work hard at all we do. (v11)
- Have joy in the hope Jesus gives us. (v12)
- Be generous and hospitable to others. (v13)
- Pray for people who harm you. (v14)
- Be empathetic to others. (v15)
- Live in harmony with others. (v16)
- Two wrongs don’t make a right. (v17)
- Be a person of integrity. (v17)
- Live peacefully with others. (v18)
- Don’t take revenge. (v19)
- Respect authority. (ch13 v1)
- Pay taxes (v6)
- Return what you owe others. (v7)
- Don’t go into debt. (v8)
- Love your neighbor – this will require us to follow the 10 commandments. (v8-10)
- Don’t participate in wild parties and drunkenness. (v13)
- Avoid sexual promiscuity and immorality. (v13)
- Avoid arguing and jealousy. (v13)
- Don’t meditate on sinning. (v14)
- Be accepting of others. (ch14 v1-4)
- Observe the Sabbath (v 5)
- Try to build each other up. (v19)
- Do what you believe is the right thing. (v23)
- Help others do what is right. (ch15 v2)
In the middle of these instructions, Paul reminded us what Jesus confirmed in two of the Gospels: “‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s Law.” Jesus told us there were two commands: Love God and love your neighbor. If we do these, we’re essentially doing all these things above; that’s what Paul is saying.
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 NIV.
We can’t love our neighbor as ourselves if we’re mistreating ourselves because there’s no mistreatment in love. We can’t love others if we’re not doing all the things necessary to take care of ourselves.
That’s why Paul starts out telling us – hey, you’ve got the Holy Spirit. That Spirit helps us be different than everyone else. The Spirit helps us transform how we think, which helps us know what God has for us. (ch12 v2)
The long list above is the result of the fruit of the Spirit. Paul uses a lot of words to form this list. But pay close attention to all of these things; the fruits are the result of living with the Spirit. Which is where we started today. In his letter to the Galatians, he tells them:
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 NLT.
These are the character traits we need to do all the things that Paul outlined above. When we decide to be different from the world, change our behavior, and point our lives in the direction that we think God wants for us, then we end up living with the Spirit. As we live with the Spirit, we will get better with these traits, and it will be easier to be humble, kind, patient, and caring towards others. It will be easier to love others.
Conclusion. Loving God and loving others seems to be necessary to living the Good Life. Staying close to the Holy Spirit and pointing ourselves in God’s direction seems to be essential to living the Good Life. So maybe living the Good Life is living a life with the Holy Spirit, as Paul says.
If you want to read along with me for the rest of the year. This is a fine time to begin. All you need is a bible, a notebook, and a pen. Take a few minutes a day to read and write down what you think. There’s no rule that says what to write or what to do. Just begin where you’re at. You don’t need to catch up just start where you are and end when you get there.
At the beginning of the year I wrote a post about doing a Bible plan and what to do. You can read that HERE if you’d like a little guidance. You can get some free book marks HERE and a plan printout HERE.
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I’d love to hear what you think! Have you decided to begin reading through the New Testament with me? Have you decided to walk with me to living a Good Life? Does this point you in a new direction? Leave a comment below and join the conversation. If you want to follow along, type your email in the box below and you’ll get new posts to your inbox. I don’t spam you or sell your information. See you there!