Every person has felt the tension between what they want to be and what they are, between how they intend to behave and how they actually behave. We all know what it is to fail. Because of this the words of the apostle Paul easily resonate in our hearts: It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? (Romans 7:21-24 The Message)
Have you ever wondered this? The question concerns security. If our security and salvation is found in our performance, then we all recognize that we are seriously insecure! Paul plainly tells us that the answer is not in our performance or will power, rather it is found in Christ Jesus. Listen to his words: The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. (Romans 8:25 The Message)
He acted to set things right… It is in Jesus Christ that we find our stability and security! Jesus calls us to make a fundamental decision about how we are going to live the life God has given us. Will we live according to the flesh – using human wisdom and insight to guide us and our feelings to make mid-course corrections, or will we live according to the Spirit of God – using divine wisdom to guide us and the continual forgiveness of ours sins by Jesus to keep us on the right path?
Too often the words of Paul concerning “the flesh” (sinful nature in the NIV) and “the Spirit” are taken to be two parts of the human being fighting for control. While we can certainly understand them in that way, Paul is actually referring to two very different paths through life (or worldviews). Paul is saying that we have to make a decision about who is in control of our lives.
The difference between a life controlled by the flesh and a life controlled by the Sprit cannot be more stark: it is the difference between death and life, between darkness and light, between addiction and freedom, between slave and beloved child.
Life in the Spirit means that we do not face condemnation, but are given the gift of holiness. Life in the Spirit means that we are not abandoned in the world, but are made children of God. Life in the Spirit means that no matter what happens to us in the world, God is working in and through it all to benefit his children. Life in the Spirit means that nothing can separate us for the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!
There are two paths through life – the path of the flesh, and the way of the Spirit. They are not two roads that both lead to the same end! Choose wisely, choose life in the Spirit.
- Kenny Payne