YOLO or You only live once. One might hear this called out as encouragement to someone about to do something bold, crazy, extreme, or stupid usually to gain a rush of adrenaline and excitement from the act. “You only live once” is good natured and intended to remind everyone to live life to the fullest while one can. The term however has a major shortcoming as it fails to recognize that while we live in this corrupted sin slaved body we also have an eternal spiritual nature that lives for eternity. The fact is we outlive this temporary physical body so no we do not just live once.
It is hard for contemporary society living in a material obsessed world to remember that there is also a spiritual world. The god of Science and Atheism has infiltrated every aspect of culture and life to the point that God is denied and if dwelt on a realization that if this is all just a material being then one is simply just the sum of chemical reactions. A machine that will one day stop working resulting in death and then nothingness. Paul rejected this YOLO way of thinking and highlighted in his letter to the Romans how the physical and the spiritual interact.
14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Romans 7:14-15 ESV
The law is morality, truth, right and wrong, and accountability to the Creator. The commandment do not murder seems to be focused on governing the actions of the flesh but it is really more than that. It is a moral standard, a spiritual standard that God holds up as truth.
15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:15 ESV
The law is spiritual because it deals with desire and intent not simply just what actions were manifest in the material world. John the Disciple of Christ is saying that hate for someone else may not manifest into a physical altercation that ends in murder but that hate is still the intent and thus corrupts the spiritual nature of the person that has such evil thoughts. Jesus highlights this when it comes to sex. If you have ever looked at another person and imagined them sexually. If you have viewed or continue to view pornographic images, writing, or simply lustful material then according to Jesus your spirit has broken the law because the law is spiritual.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28 ESV
Now Paul acknowledged to the Romans that we have a serious problem with the Law. We know what is right and wrong but we do not have the ability to consistently carry it out. The physical desires of this body and the cravings and appetites of the world get in the way.
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. Romans 7:18 ESV
There are two mistaken ways to go forward because of this war between the spirit and the flesh. First is to deny the spiritual aspect of oneself and say “oh well I was born this way”. Another “this is who I am”. Better yet people were made to enjoy these pleasures so YOLO and go for it to the extreme. The second extreme is to deny the flesh and physical altogether and focus solely on the spiritual side of oneself. Monks for example move way a remote location to cut themselves off from the physical pleasures of the world and attempt to live above the selfish evil desires of the flesh. The unhappy secret here is that even in the monastery one still must deal with the selfishness of the flesh. The problem with either way of living is that it will ultimately be unsatisfying. Life is more than pleasure and life is more than denial of physical. One cannot deny the spiritual side of things any more than they can truly deny the physical side.
6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 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. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:6-8 ESV
The sin of our physical desires must be put to death and we must be born again into a spirit filled life where the physical is controlled and enjoyed by the spiritual. It is in Christ that the Spirit gives us a new heart and a new desire for the things that are valued by God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ John 3:6-7 ESV
If you enjoyed this then click the like button, leave a comment, or ask a question! Here is more on the role of spirit and body in the life of a Christian: Physical Solutions to a Spiritual Problem