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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“So 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)
Have you ever gone down a rabbit hole of thought? It usually starts with a simple, innocuous thought, but somewhere along the way . . . man does it go sideways. Author Beau Taplin once wrote, “As I grew a little older and wiser I realized that unlike the fairy tales I had read as a child, the rabbit holes of the real world were often our own mad hearts.”
This is something Paul understood, as evidenced by today’s verse. You see, our natural mind, which is dominated by “another power within me that is at war with my mind,” that makes me “a slave to the sin that is still within me” (Romans 7:23 NLT) always leads us down a path of destruction (Romans 8:13). In fact, it has no other setting on its dial but destruction! The sinful nature always leads to wrath and ruin, because it is in every way at odds with God.
We don’t see it when we’re in the rabbit hole; we don’t perceive that every decision made according to our nature will blow up in our face. It’s only in the aftermath of devastation that we see it. It’s only after eirēnē (peace: “the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot”) and zóé (life: “the absolute fullness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God, and through Him”) have been ripped away from us that we feel the full force of what we’ve lost.
Please know that Paul was not talking to nonbelievers, nor am I. Right now, I’m talking to you, believers! When we allow our sinful nature/heart, which “is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV), to take the driver’s seat of our minds instead of “Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead” (Romans 8:11a NIV), we lose access to the freedom for which Christ set us free. We become voluntary slaves, putting already broken chains back around our necks.
But when we let the Spirit control our heart and mind, “he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you” (Romans 8:11b NLT). We get to walk in freedom (8:1–2) as children of God (8:14–15), heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (8:17), in harmony with His will (8:27). We’ll be free to walk in His purposes and path for us, which lead to life beyond anything we could imagine and peace that surpasses understanding! So what will you choose today?
DIG: Read Romans 6–8.
DISCOVER: How do you control your thoughts? How do you keep yourself from going down the rabbit hole of the sinful nature?
DISPLAY: Stop. Step back. Look at the road you’re on today. Are you on the road to wrath and destruction in certain areas of your life? Ask the Spirit to take control. Let go of your mind and will and listen to the Lord. Pray that He would help you walk in His freedom, peace, and life today!
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.