“Therefore” is a powerful word. It demands that we look back in order to understand what is about to be said. A perfect example is found in Paul’s letter to the Romans.
Rom 8:12-13 So then [Therefore], brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 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. ESV
In Chapter seven he tells us that the Holy Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, is dwelling in every believer. God has made a huge deposit of life and power to our account. As a result (therefore) we are debtors for that life and power and will one day give an account of how we have used or neglected it at the Judgement Seat of Christ. Which is why I always refer to that moment as facing “the” question… What did you do with what you were given? This is the parable of the Talents that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 25.
The challenge, as Paul notes here, is that we are debtors to the Spirit, which means that we are not debtors to the flesh. The problem is that we have the strength and power of our flesh, our old Adamic nature, within us that is constantly pulling us down. That’s why Paul put the “therefore” in place. To remind us that we have been given all the power needed for us to live our life in the Spirit; in victory. But we are debtors to God for all the power He has given us in Jesus’ resurrection, and our payment is to use that power in His service. I once read a perfect example that makes the point.
On most of our railroads today there are control towers where the traffic engineer switches one or another train to the main line. In these verses the Word is telling us that we, as the sons and daughters of God, are that traffic engineer … as debtors to God. We are the ones who pull that switch to allow the resurrection power of Christ to run down the main line of our lives. But if we reach out and pull the switch that allows the flesh to take control of our lives we are out of the will of God and will be fully accountable for our failure … in choosing to live according to the flesh you will die.
As believers we will “never” suffer the second death, the spiritual death. We will never lose the salvation that we have been given, however Paul is warning us of the consequences of certain specific sins after being saved that carry the risk of severe chastisement at the hand of the Lord. Chastisement that could proceed through various degrees of severity, and even end in physical death.
We need to be ever mindful of the fact that we “owe” everything we have been given to the One who paid the price for it. And we are to make our payments on that debt throughout our life down here by putting the deeds of the flesh to death and serve our Lord and Saviour by the power of the Spirit. This is a continuing process, the continuing present tense work of the Holy Spirit in us.
We need to be ready to answer “The Question.”