which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit. . . . But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
So here “the things of the Spirit” are the words of God spoken by the apostles. From this I infer that when Romans 8:6 says that “those who are according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit” he means that they set their minds on the words of God and the realities they stand for. These are the “things of the Spirit” that the natural person rejects and the spiritual person embraces. So to put to death the deeds of the body “by the Spirit” is to “set your mind on the things of the Spirit,” which we now see means embracing the words of God (and the reality they point to) spoken by his inspired spokesmen.
This is especially significant because the “word of God” is called “the sword of the Spirit” in Ephesians 6:17. And swords are used for killing. And that is what we are to do “by the Spirit” in Romans 8:13. Kill the deeds of the body by the Spirit, that is by fixing your mind on “the things of the Spirit,” that is, by welcoming and embracing the “word of God” in your mind and heart, that is, by taking the Sword of the Spirit which is the deadly sword for sin-killing.
Step Three: By Hearing with Faith, not Works of the Law
Very practically what do you do to bring the power of the Spirit by the word of God into vigorous, sin-killing action? The answer is clear in Galatians 3:5: “So then, does he who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” The answer is that the Spirit is supplied to us for the miraculously mighty killing of sin not by works of the law but by “hearing with faith.”
“The sword of the Spirit helps us kill sin.”
How does it do that? Well, let’s save that for a whole sermon when I come back. But we are not left helpless this morning. What we are saying is that when temptation comes, alongside a very powerful and resolute no, you look to a word from God, especially a word that promises he will be more for us and do more for us than what this sin promises. And if you believe him — there is the main battle — you will sever the root of sin.
So immerse your mind and heart in the fountain of truth and life and power — the promises of God, and when the temptation comes, take this all-satisfying word, this sword of the Spirit, and believe it, and by it sever the root of sin. Kill it.