Walking by the SpiritHow great is our God! September 29, 2020
And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].
Do not be overcome and conquered by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:2, 21 AMP
I say then: Walk by the spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16
How do I overcome my bad habit? Why am I constantly falling back into the same sin? Why do I keep struggling with this? If those are questions you've asked, you're not alone. I can relate, and I'm sure many Christians face this same battle. The good news though, tells a different story. We are called: Conquerors. An Overcomer. A Victor. These words don't describe one who is defeated. So, why the discrepancy between the Word and our lives? Could it be our worldview and we're focusing on the wrong kingdom? Maybe we've had our eyes on the wrong battle plan all along, and fighting from it has brought defeat because its strategy has been rigged for failure. I believe we've been deceived.
In Galatians 5:16, Paul gives us this battle plan: Walk by the spirit and you will not carry out (or fulfill) the desires of the flesh. Quite simple, isn't it? Note: it doesn't say in the above verse: Do not fulfill the desires of the flesh and you will walk by the Spirit. Why then do we believe that we first have to get" that issue right, get rid of this and that bad habit, etc" before we can walk by the Spirit? The opposite is actually true. God knows we can't do good, be good or stay in the good without the Spirit. Which is why Romans 12:21 says: overcome evil with good! If the mind and heart is filled with good..there is little room left for the evil. The good WILL choke out the bad weeds. The good will kick those bad habits to the curb, without you even realizing it's happening. Paul is saying, look guys, you have to walk by the Spirit! It's the only way to not fall into sin and the only way you'll win. And just to make it clear, walking means to maintain a certain life and conduct. To behave and live in accordance to the Spirit. Walk and be motivated by the Spirit, and the consequence of that will be: you won't be feeding the selfish motivations within you and so also will not be compelled to give in to them.
We've got it a little bit mixed up in the church. We have a "focus on getting rid of the evil" mentality, when it's supposed to be a "focus on God and His word" mentality, whereby the good that your filling up on is quietly and powerfully shoving the "bad guys" out of the system.
Let’s face it, what we focus on...will grow.The magnifying glass is a good example of this. It enlarges and sharpens the focal point of any object that you look at. And who wants to enlarge and magnify the sin, the bad, the ugly in our lives? I sure don't. I'd rather have a way to get rid of it, a surefire plan that works. Me focusing on getting rid of sin? Has never worked. Why? Because the keyword in that sentence is: Me. And Me, Myself, and I, are not the soldiers you want on your battlefield waging war against evil. You want the Lord of angel armies, the Word, and Holy Spirit. These are soldiers that have fought battle, after battle, after battle, and won. They know every strategy of the enemy. There is nothing hidden from the eyes of this heavenly army and there will never be a suprise attack that will overtake them. So...who is on your side? Who's fighting your battle?
I love the way the psalmist says it: Oh, magnify the Lord with me! Let us exalt His name together, Ps 34:3. Why is it important for us to magnify the Lord? Well, it's sure not for God's sake that we have to magnify Him, (He’s the one holding the universe in His hands) but for ours. I need to magnify Him, enlarge His goodness, His salvation, His name, in my heart, because focusing on Him, on how great He is, diminishes my mountains. I don't exactly know how this works, the logistics of it, and that's okay. I'm trusting that the general of this army has a perfect plan to defeat my enemies. I'm confident that He who is on my side is greater than he who is against me. I'm sure that if I listen to His commands and follow after them, I will gain the victory.
Let's try His strategy. Let's roll up the old battle plan, throw it out and introduce the one given by the Lord. Here is what it looks like (for those of you who like lists):
1. Focus on Jesus.
Hebrews 12 1-2 tells us this is the secret to throwing off everything that holds us back and also the way to overcome any sin that entangles us and keeps us from running the race of life well. Focus on Jesus.
2. Walk by the Spirit.
This means practicing those things that are of the Spirit and when faced with the choice to do a sin, deliberately do the opposite. If being rude and arrogant is something you struggle with, intentionally (beforehand decide this) be kind and do good. If anger is the issue, take a deep breath and intentionally be patient. This is called crucifixion of the flesh. Galatians 5:24:" Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Sorry, soldier, but no battle is without a fight. Crucifixion is a painful process that Christ went through, for you, so that you'd have the power of the Holy Spirit with you to always be victorious. You CAN walk by the Spirit. You just have to choose to do so, regardless of what the flesh wants. Tell your flesh it's been crucified and is now being brought to obedience to Christ Jesus. Then bring it to obedience.
3. Keep focusing on Jesus!
4. Renew your mind.
Romans 12:2 reminds us that this is how we will be changed and transformed. By renewing our minds to the Word of God. The word transform in this verse is in Greek: metamorphoõ. It's where we get the word metamorphosis from and this word is used to describe the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. This is an incredibly amazing example of how we are transformed spiritually as we renew our minds to God's way of thinking. From earthbound and earthly-minded to heaven bound and heavenly-minded. From ugly to beautiful. From crawling to flying. But...it is a process. The caterpillar isn't transformed into a butterfly overnight. Likewise, you can't be renewing your mind for a week and then say.."there's no change, I give up!" No caterpillar that gives up becomes a butterfly. I'd venture to say that if the caterpillar had a life motto it would be this: Forgetting what lies behind, I press on towards the goal!
For us, spiritual warriors, Paul says this:
Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature [pursuing spiritual perfection] should have this attitude. And if in any respect you have a different attitude, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us stay true to what we have already attained.
Philippians 3:12-16 AMP
And as a side note: There are very little similarities between the caterpillar and the butterfly. The transformation is so complete that by looking at the butterfly you couldn't say that it was once a caterpillar. I'll let you think about that.
5. Keep on focusing on Jesus!
I could write out the list up till 100, with this written beside each number: Keep focusing on Jesus. With Jesus in sight, I believe anything is possible. He has answers I haven't thought of. He has plans I've never dreamed of. He has ways of doing life that are far better than any I could come up with. He's been there, done that, seen the whole of time pass by, and with Him is wisdom beyond my natural comprehension. He's gone before me in the sands of time, left perfect footsteps and said, " Follow me! This is the way, walk in it."
Soldier on! Keep walking by the Spirit, after Jesus. You got this!
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