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. 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. 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.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
Sometimes we do things that we know are so incredibly stupid that even as we are doing them we are already thinking to ourselves, “why did you just do that, you idiot?” Why did I send that text? Why did I try to lie? What am I even doing?
Paul writes that those impulses are from the realm of the flesh, and the flesh is sinful. But in Christ, we have a new obligation, and we are able to pursue righteousness rather than selfishness. In other words, when we allow our minds to be directed by the Spirit, our impulses are Spirit-filled, too. I don’t think this happens overnight. Paul also writes that he often does what he doesn’t want to do, (what am I even doing?), but he is continually seeking the Spirit. Knowing that we can work against our selfish impulses and become more like Christ as we allow him to live in us is a cause for optimism. We’re not stuck! We don’t have to keep on doing stupid things! The desires of the flesh are conforming, making us less of ourselves and more like one, faceless horde. The will of the Spirit is transforming, allowing us to become who God wants us to be! Anyone can be selfish. How often do we say to our partners or children, “I’m sorry, I’m just not myself today”? Selfishness actually makes us less of ourselves. Our true “self” is only possible when we seek God’s will.
Reason for Optimism 2: When we have a Spirit-filled mind, we have Spirit-filled actions.