St. Paul does not write about the physical death or life, but rather of spiritual life and death. He wants us to know, that our inner life grows or fades, flourishes or diminishes depending on the degree our will, mind and inner being is led and controlled by the divine Spirit or not. It’s a very promising state of affairs if the will exists and the true desire is present to serve God and to obey his Holy Spirit. There is nobody who is always and in everything absolutely determined by the triune God and who doesn’t have the negative pull and inclination exerted by the old sinful being. Rather in all Christians there is a struggle going on and thankfully the Holy Spirit assists such Christians and people continuously. He does not only dwell in those, who are absolutely holy and pure. Otherwise he’d not find any dwelling among human beings. Rather he is gracious and merciful, patient and of great goodness and faithfulness. Whenever he enters into a person, then he knows perfectly well how much work and effort need to be put in to address the ongoing work of healing and sanctification, of purification and curing. He knows how ill and in what a bad and corrupted state we are. So these words: If by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live (Rom 8:13 NIV) need to be understood from such a modest and merciful evaluation of our human existence in this world – even as Christians. I think I must emphasize this, because there are too many, who judge themselves too harshly and plague themselves too much. It’s for them to hear, that by the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ they too are to live – forever.
Lord our God! We have burdened you with our sinfulness and have caused you much labour with our iniquity. Yet we thank you from the bottom of our heart, that you have not given us up. Rather you continue to carry us patiently and care for us mercifully. Grant that we will mortify our sinful ways with the aid of your Holy Spirit so that you will flourish in us more and more. We are yours. Let us not be lost or forsaken. Amen.
Amen, Lord Jesus, grant our prayer; Great Captain, now Thine arm make bare, Fight for us once again! So shall Thy saints and martyrs raise A mighty chorus to Thy praise Forevermore. Amen. (Jacob Fabricius, 1593-1654 tr Catherine Winkworth, 1827-78)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Tuesday after the eighth Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 273 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.