Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Contrasting Lifestyles

One of the characteristics of the person who is following Jesus Christ is that he/she is led by the Spirit. A Spirit led person will live differently from the rest of the world who are led by the flesh. If there is no difference between the way we live and the way the world live means that we are not truly living a life that is guided by the Holy Spirit.

This means that we have to determine what motivates our actions. Is it the desire of the flesh? Or is it the desire of the Spirit. To determine origin of our motivation the apostle Paul describes the results, behaviors, or the “fruit” of each type of life.
19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, rivalry, jealously, outbursts of anger, quarrels, conflicts, factions, 21 envy, murder, drunkenness, wild partying, and things like that. I am telling you now, as I have told you in the past, that people who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. 26 Let us stop being arrogant, provoking one another and envying one another. (Galatians 5:19-26; ISV)

As we are examining our motivations we have to consider:

The works of the flesh Vss. 19-21
The warning Paul gives to those who live by the flesh is that they “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” With that warning ringing in our ears we should take the time and make a close examination of our lives.

These works are, Paul says, are obvious. They are obvious because these deeds are opposite of the law of love that Jesus commands His followers to live by. Instead of looking out for the interest of others these people are self-absorbed and thus only care about themselves.

When we are looking at our motivations we have to consider whether we are motivated to serve ourselves or to help other people. The flesh will always lead us to take care of ourselves rather than to sacrifice and serve those people who are around us.

The wealth of the Spirit Vss. 22-23
Paul says that when we live our lives by the Spirit that there is no law that can stand against us. The Spirit guides us to live the way God us to live. The “fruit of the Spirit” is a life that pleases God and Paul uses these words to describe what the life should look like (in other words these are not the “fruits of the the Spirit” but rather the description of what that fruit looks like).

When love fills our lives then we can know that we are being led by Spirit, just as when peace fills our heart is an indication of being led by the Spirit, and our kindness towards other people is another indication of being led by the Spirit.

Can you describe your life in such terms? Are you motivated by love for others? Does joy fill your heart? A Spirit led life looks very different from the self-absorbed life of the person led by the flesh.

The walk of the Spirit Vss. 24-26
The disciple of Jesus, Paul says, have crucified the passions of the flesh. In other words these sinful passions of been put together by Christ as we surrender our lives to Him.

Though the reality is that if we are not surrendering to Jesus then we will not have the strength to resist the passions of our flesh and the voice of the Spirit will be drowned out. The walk of the Spirit begins with our surrendering to Jesus Christ.

Have you surrendered to Jesus? Are you seeking to do God’s will more than your will? Will you clear your life of distractions in order to hear the Spirit’s voice?

There should be a stark contrast between the way we live and the way the rest of the world lives. The reason is not because of our discipline or strength, but because we have dedicated to being led the Spirit. The Spirit will led us away from the passions of our flesh to the Desire God has for our lives

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