9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 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 because of his Spirit who lives in you. Romans 8.9-11 [NIV]
I must make a confession. I can’t live the Christian life. My attempts to do so have resulted in abject failure. In the process, I swing from apathy to fervent legalism. I know my own brokenness yet strive to please God by doing stuff. Even the religious stuff is the way of death if doesn’t come from the Spirit. The way of the flesh leads away from God which can make the religious all that more dangerous. In our religious activity, we feign to have a handle on the life of God when the reality is far different.
Paul reminds the saints in Rome, they are not in the flesh but in the Spirit. By the Spirit, Christ lived in them. The Incarnate Word. Lives. In. Us. He is the only one who can live the Christian life. By the Spirit, we can share in that life. We get to participate in the very life of God. The life that raised Christ from death is in us and changes us.
The finished work of the cross makes a way for our participation in the realm of the Spirit. The Spirit also works within us making that cross a reality in our lives. The in-working of the cross of Christ brings death to our fleshly nature but life to our bodies. We have the privilege of fleshing out the reality of the Spirit, the character of Christ and the love of God. We are complete in Christ. However, as long as we have these earthly bodies the completeness of Christ is revealed in us through the in-working of the cross. By turning to God in Christ, we turn to the world, which Christ reconciled to God. Embracing the inward work of the cross does not lead away from the world but all the more deeper and more fully into it.