The “realm of the flesh” is connected with “sinful passions” – a desire to improperly fulfill an appetite. The sad reality is that we often appeal to rules, the “law” to justify this type of behavior. In particular, we deflect attention from our own faults by criticizing others.

This can support a perspective of God as a Cosmic Vending Machine. When we prioritize our flesh and its appetites, we tend to look at God only as a source of “goodies”. “What do I need to do in order to get God to give me what I want?”

The ideas of obedience, trust, and serving others are inconvenient obstacles to our fleshly objective. As soon as we have what we want from God, we are gone and the machine is an afterthought… until we want something again.

This is the cycle of seeking “sinful passions”. These sinful passions enslave us, we are “bound” by them, unable to enjoy and flourish in the freedom with which Christ set us free.

The perspective of Christ is the “new way of the spirit”. Instead of being ” bound”, we are now free – but free to do what? If we go into sin, we choose bondage. But when we use our freedom to “serve”, we are choosing the “new way of the Spirit”. This is life abundant.

God is not a genie in a bottle or an overbearing accountant. He is a father who desires the best for us. When we choose this true perspective about God, serving and obedience makes perfect sense.

“For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”
– Romans 7:5-6