Sunday, August 24, 2014
August 23 – The key to rising above
But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want. (Galatians 5:16-17 NET)
What a relief! We now have a way to keep ourselves from falling into sinful habits — that is, living by the Spirit. This is not just for those who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, but for anyone who wants to draw closer to God and to eventually be baptized in His Spirit. We can choose at any moment, in any circumstance, to either act on the fears or pride or anxiety of our flesh, or seek to line ourselves up with the desires and thoughts of the Spirit, and act on them.
The tough part is that living by the Spirit means squelching feelings that rise up against the truths of God. But this is the key to rising above our problems, and letting God resolve the things that we can’t.
The addict, the habitual liar, the abuser, the person who has a sin that they just can’t shake off, can find freedom from their flesh quickly by choosing to live by the Spirit. 12-step programs can only take a person so far by focusing on their self-control to deny their addictions. But God is offering something much greater. His own Spirit will enable us to escape the onslaught of temptations that the devil brings. When we daily seek His wisdom, make deliberate choices to think His thoughts, and act as He would want, our flesh becomes weaker and weaker.
This is how merciful and loving God is. He knows we are weak, and He knows how ruthless our enemy’s tactics are. So He calls us to live by His Spirit, not to merely obey Him by our own strength, but to allow His strength to become a part of us. It begins with denying our flesh, but once we’re in that mode of the Spirit, the struggle against sin, worry, fear, addictions and everything else becomes dim and less powerful than before.
The more often we dwell with God, the closer we get to being baptized in His Spirit, when He fills us and flows into us. Read on through the rest of this chapter and learn more about the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit to better acquaint yourselves with how you can begin to live in the Spirit. Realize that there is no middle-of-the-road. If we are not living in the Spirit, we are unwittingly allowing the flesh to turn us against God’s Spirit. It’s the default mode of our sinful nature, that if we aren’t purposefully seeking Him, we are sliding into the devil’s territory.
It doesn’t feel like the easier way at first, because the denial of our flesh always hurts, and the flesh knows how to throw a tantrum. But once we kill our flesh and choose the Spirit, life becomes smoother, kinder and far more joyful. We always wonder why we hadn’t chosen the Spirit sooner, so what’s stopping us now?