Saturday, September 26, 2009

What Does It Mean To Live By The Spirit?

Good morning my friends. Another day and another opportunity to be engage in the fight for the lost; another opportunity to live a life of praise; another opportunity to make a difference in someone's life in Jesus' name. But first, Galatians 5.

The greatest desire I have had since I was 19 years old and encountered Jesus in my bedroom was to live by the Spirit. So many things want to interfere with that but its mostly my own flesh that messes me up. Oh I have no doubt of the enemy who too makes the most of every opportunity I give him, but he can't touch me unless I allow him. I think it is tiredness that has always been my downfall.

I think all of us find tiredness to be a root in the list of the things that weaken us with Jesus. The same tiredness that causes us to go to bed without washing the dishes will also cause us to go to bed without worship and without some heavenly conversation or feasting in the Word. Do this for a few days and the Spirit's influence in you begins to weaken. Without the Spirit our flesh begins to rise up and before you know it sin is getting a grip again. Busyness is also a contributor to our downfall. Paul encouraged us to live in the Spirit:

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. v. 16-18

I find it interesting the order in which Paul lists the acts of our sinful nature:

sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery - These are sins we commit in our body. They have a special power and cause some of the most devastating and longest lasting damage. These sins can be forgiven but their natural consequences linger for decades to follow.

idolatry and witchcraft - Following the sins of the body we leave ourselves wide open for an attack on our soul. Adultery of the flesh leads to adultery of the spirit. We are separated from God. This leads to the sins that are more obvious to people.

hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy - As we become separated from God we become separated from man. These are the acts against the relationships in our lives. Without the Spirit there is nothing hold us back.

drunkenness, orgies - These represent sin out of control, when we enter into sin with others and we become dead to any influence of the Spirit. I see Paul's list as a progression toward God turning us over to our depravities. Yet, at any stage we could repent and be restored. On the other hand, there is no need for us to go down that road at all. All we have to do is live by the power and direction of the Spirit.

Things look much different in the Spirit. Hearts of repentance filled by praise and thanksgiving for the love that is lavished on us is fertile soil for the Spirit to produce his fruit in us:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. vs 22-23

These should be an indication for you if you are where you should be. People who spend time in worship and prayer every day, fellowshipping with Christ all day long cannot be a breading ground for the acts of the sinful nature. The reality of Christ's love in us produces good things and it is evident in our living and relationships with others. The only method of living by the Spirit is to die to everything that is you:

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. v. 24

You cannot live by two opposing systems. You cannot have a foot in both realities. To live by the Spirit is to live 100% for Jesus; no part-timers. It means praising him throughout the day. It means praying all day long for everything you come across. It means seeing what Jesus sees and feeling what Jesus feels, and thinking as Jesus thinks. It means taking your delight and pleasures in Jesus and all things related to him. It is a decision you must make every day:

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. v. 25

It you want a barometer to measure how you are doing then use your attitude toward all the people you encounter in a day. Are you willing to sacrifice or even die for them?

Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. v. 26

My desire has always been to live by the Spirit so I could experience the love of Christ more and more. I am glad that desire has been renewed in me. So, where is your heart today?

1 comment:

Sensitive Mum said...

My belief is that walking in the spirit is walking with my intuition or gut feeling in the foreground. For example I can go to a party, get drunk, have a 'great' night, but be too hungover the next day to get up for a run. That's my flesh enjoying itself. But what my spirit wants is to go to a party, have fun, leave at a time that sees me in bed for a refreshing sleep...then I can get up and go for an early beach run.
Both choices fulfill both sides of myself's desires. Only one brings life.....going for a run. Cos that's when I feel free, and I feel closer to hearing from God as I run and pray!
So my belief is that I need to listen to what my spirit wants when I make choices in life, and sometimes my friends won't understand why I leave a party early. But my intuition tells me I can and will enjoy my spirit-led choice.