Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Walking in the Spirit

“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” – Galatians 5:16-25

Within every saved sinner there is a continual battle. It’s a battle between the body and the Holy Spirit which dwells within us. They want us to do different things, to have different ideas and thoughts.

Many saved sinners have never felt the joy of their salvation because they continue to live in the flesh – letting their body control their thoughts and their actions. Where the body is at work, the Holy Spirit will take a back seat. He’s not going to come up against you and say “Enough! I demand you let me make your decisions because that is what is best for you!” and take control. Oh, if only that could happen, how much better off we’d all be!

Galatians 5:19-21 gives us a long laundry list of the desires of the body, and how they may manifest themselves. These “works of the flesh” it says are evident – easy to identify. The list varies in extremity according to our standards. Few of us would ever consider murdering someone, but many of us have felt envious or jealous. These are manifestations of the body over the Holy Spirit. These things happen because we do not adhere to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

But if we keep reading and look at Galatians 5:22, we read the things that are created from the working of the Holy Spirit within us, which are “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”. When we exercise the Holy Spirit that lives within us, allowing it to rule our hearts, minds, and body, we will see these “fruits” in our lives.

Often I feel we sit back and say “Here I am God, give me patience! Give me peace! Give me longsuffering!” But the Bible teaches against that. James 2:26 says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Rather than just asking God the gardener to give us the fruits, we need to grow them.

With any growth process, you start with a seed. What seeds can you plant today to grow your love? Can you befriend someone who desperately needs a friend? Can you give a hug to someone who’s hurting?

I was in a restaurant a few weeks back and watched as a young mother attempted to have a conversation while taking care of her young baby in a high chair. The little girl looked to be about a year old. As the mom was talking to her friend, the baby dropped her spoon. The mother – without breaking her conversation - reached down, picked up the spoon, dipped it in her water glass, wiped it off and handed it back to her daughter.

This happened at least 7 times as I watched in amazement. Not once did mom look at her daughter and point a finger with a frowned face and say “NO! Enough!” Each time she would simply go through cleaning the spoon and giving it to her daughter. She patiently let her daughter play, and patiently retrieved that spoon each time it was dropped. Undoubtedly this mom had been planting seeds of patience, and her crop was coming in beautifully!

Until we can grow our Spirit fruits, we will find our life produces thorns from the flesh. God has given us the Holy Spirit to be our comforter and guide. But if we’re not letting Him guide us, there will be no comfort – only inner turmoil as the flesh and His Spirit wrestle for power.

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