The Berean Expositor
Volume 52 - Page 188 of 207
Index | Zoom
It will be seen that this word has a wide range of meaning; but in Romans it is in
antithesis to the "flesh", denoting the sinful old nature inherited from fallen Adam. Thus
we have the doctrine of the two natures in the believer which are for ever opposed. They
are "contrary the one to the other" (Gal. 5: 17), and the Scriptural doctrine relating to
these natures is a subject of immense importance to the believer. Wrong conceptions of
holiness and spiritual progress arise from not understanding what the Scripture teaches in
relation to the two natures in the child of God.
One great difficulty in deciding whether to translate the word `spirit' with a capital or
small `s' is seen when different translations are compared. If translated with a capital `S'
it refers to the Holy Spirit; if a small `s' the new nature which He imparts to the believer.
Comparing different translations one can quickly see that the translators had varying
ideas on this point.  But one thing should be made clear if spirit is rendered with a
small `s', referring to the gift of the divine nature, the Holy Spirit is not eliminated for
one cannot have a divine gift without a divine Giver. In fact both these meanings may be
true of the context and then there is no question of it being "either or".
For ourselves, we feel that in the context of the Romans that we are studying, there is
no direct reference to the Holy Spirit by Himself until we reach 8: 16. "For the Spirit
Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God". Until then it is the
activities of the two natures that are being dealt with. These two opposing principles are
set out by the Apostle in verses 5-7:
"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, because the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to
God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by their sinful nature cannot please God"
We render this quotation as `spirit' with a small `s' making it refer to the new nature,
but behind it is of course God Himself, the Holy Spirit. The context is not so much
contrasting the Holy Spirit with the flesh but rather His gift, the perfect divine nature,
over against the old sinful one inherited from fallen Adam. Redemption means that the
believer's mind is now free and can be allied either with the flesh or the spirit and it is
made perfectly clear what happens in both cases. One expresses "enmity against God"
and leads finally to death; the other to "life and peace". Gal. 5: takes this further and
reveals plainly the two entirely opposite `fruits' resulting from flesh and spirit:
"The acts of the sinful nature (flesh) are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and
debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish
ambitions, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like . . . . . but the
fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness
and self-control . . . . ." (Gal. 5: 19-23, N.I.V.).
There could not be a greater contrast, and the believer must decide whether his mind is
going to be directed by the one or the other. He can be free from the slavery of the flesh
by realizing his unity with Christ in death and resurrection and counting on this as
Romans 8: 11 commands him to do. Or he can allow the old nature to put the chains