Bella Vista Church of Christ



Keith Caselman


Inside-Out – Spirit-Initiated Religion


  A family was traveling together across country, and as families do to pass time, the mother said, “let’s play the game where you make the sound of the animal and then everyone else guesses the animal.” The older sister went first, “moo” she said. Oh, oh, “I know that said the six year old brother, a cow.” “Myturn, my turn,” said the little six year old. He thought for a moment, a smile came to his face and he said, “moo” the older sister made a smirked face and said, “a cow, I just said that!” He looked at her with confidence, smiled and said, “no.” The mother quickly piped up saying, “you said boo, you must mean a ghost.” “No,” said the boy. “Did you mean a lamb,” asked the father inquisitively? No, I said, “mooooooo” to over articulate. The family made a few more passes at guessing with no luck. Finally, the sister said, “We give up! What is it?” The little boy smiled and said, “Mockingbird!” …and Paul wants us to think differently in Romans chapter eight; think outside our normal human box, change our minds, transform our hearts and walk differently.


I believe Paul wants us to see two things…

One: We have to change our mind to change our behavior.

Two: We don’t transform our mind, the Spirit does this work

awakening us to the new realities of Kingdom Living.


  Behavior is a heart issue. Christian living is from the inside out. Proverbs 4.23 says: "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Jesus said "the issues of life, good and evil, come from within the heart" (Luke 6.45). Paul writes: “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8.6-8).


  We must ask, where is our mind, on things spiritual or fleshly? Paul contrasts the two in his letter to the churches of Galatia: “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful (Flesh) nature. For the flesh nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. The acts of the sinful (Flesh) nature 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” (Galatians 5.16-21).


  Then he gives us an example what it means to live by the Spirit. What it looks like to have God living in us: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful flesh nature with its passion and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5.22-25).


  We are to have the mind of Christ: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus… Whatever is true, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—If anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on such things” (Philippians 2.5 & 4.8).


  The Holy Spirit initiates the transforming. Indeed, some may be thinking, “I don’t know how to transform my mind; By some type of transcendental meditation; some optimists think therapy, positive thinking?” Listen as Paul tells us how our minds are transformed into Spirit-Led minds: “If Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of Him who raised Christ Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans8.10-11).


  Paul is saying that the Spirit is in us, and we are in the Spirit. When this is true, our life will be righteous: We will treat others, all others, justly; placing their interests before our own. We’ll be living right, doing good works. Righteousness also means we have a correct relationship with God. Because the Spirit lives in us, He compels us to live as we should, like Jesus.


  Indeed, God’s Spirit transforms us: “We reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3.18). It’s the Spirit who does the work. In a further study of Romans chapter eight, we see again and again that the Spirit doing His work in us, allows us to have: Changed hearts. Transformed minds. Meaningful prayers. Walking in step with Him. It’s not by our power, but the power of the Holy Spirit living in us, working in us.


  Paul is clear, “We are being transformed into the image of Christ in an ever-increasing glory, which comes from God who is the Spirit.” This is not a one and done scenario: It's a developing, maturing, sanctifying, transforming, activity changing us from one level of glorifying God to another. It doesn’t happen all at once. It doesn’t happen from the outside in. Amen?


—Keith Caselman

    Farmington AR

    Condensed & Adapted from a Sermon

    Delivered at Cornerstone Church of Christ