According to Romans 8 there is a difference between “living according to the sinful nature” and “living according to the Spirit”
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you…And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you. ~ Romans 8:5-9, 11
Those who do not believe in Jesus as their Savior and do not receive the Holy Spirit can only live according to their sinful nature; they are constantly being influenced by Satan. They give into the worldly ideas of what is right or wrong instead of God’s standard. Sinful man is hostile to God, cannot please God, and will remain in a state of spiritual death after physical death.
For those who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior they not only receive the promise of heaven, they also enjoy the presence of God here and now through His Holy Spirit. Believers have the ability to live either in their sinful nature or in the Spirit.
Even for the believer, the sinful nature of man is always battling what the Holy Spirit desires for us. With the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, believers have the power to overcome the temptation of sin in their lives. Those who submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit can live a life that portrays the essence of the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount that God has outlined for us. This results in peace beyond our understanding. We are told the Fruit of the Spirit is:
“…love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” ~ Galatians 5:22-23
Living out the Fruit of the Spirit can only be done by living day-by-day, walking step-by-step in the Spirit.
We are already living in the Spirit as believers because the Spirit dwells in us at the moment we believe. Walking in the Spirit means to obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit as He works to influence our spirit. You would think this would be natural, but sadly, we are at war with the sinful nature. It is difficult to stay the course and not give in to the desires of our sinful nature. We need to continually keep our focus on God. We are ultimately governed by that on which we focus.
In marriage, you might say we have an ongoing strife between living out being worldly spouses or spirit-filled spouses. During this lifetime, it will be a constant battle. But don’t lose heart: the war is won. The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and the right words to say. He will guide us into all truth. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will get our attention by sounding an alarm, closing or opening doors, bringing certain people into or out of our lives, or by gently putting a thought into our mind. If we are open to the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, He can affect what we know, how we think, and how we act. What a precious gift!
What are some ways you can stay focused on God and be more open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in your marriage?