Dear Fellow Christian:
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
This Scripture is familiar to most Christians, but we tend to read it with a shrug of the shoulders, convinced we are not that bad. However, if we analyze it closely, and compare the analysis to our self-talk, we may find we are indeed that bad.
No Christian deliberately displeases God, but the world infiltrates and influences us insidiously, through exposure on our jobs, through the media, etc. We can include the church, because the way of the world is evident in many churches also.
We define the way of the world as secular humanism. Secular humanism places us at the center of everything, with everything existing for our benefit. It is easy to spot in the church when the Gospel is represented as primarily for the personal benefit of our security, enjoyment and satisfaction.
The popular evangelist zeroes in on our lost and unhappy condition; he emphasizes our tremendous value and potential; he stresses our need and the danger we are in as we walk without God; finally, he presses home the great benefits that accrue to us by being saved.
As sweet as that sounds, it is secular humanism. If it didn't contain an element of truth, it wouldn't be deceptive. It is one of those things that is true, but not the truth. It is true that we benefit from walking with God, but that is only the by-product.
Even the church that attempts to flow with the Spirit has a secret motivation to see the supernatural. We are fascinated by bigness, loudness and aggressiveness. We worship heroes, wealth and pageantry. We seek peace, happiness, prosperity, social acceptance, publicity and success.
Unfortunately, we use God as Aladdin used the Genie. In accepting Christ, we rub the lamp and expect all our prayers to be answered. Not only do we look forward to heaven, we are now entitled to everything the world has to offer.
This is humanism allied with Christianity to give it religious respectability. It begins with man and his needs, then looks to God to fill those needs. Humanism is linked to economy. Our nation, along with most of the world, is bankrupt. Although humanists don't realize it, humanism is bankrupt also.
Christianity is God searching for man to deliver him from his worldly ambitions. When He finds one of us willing to put aside selfish ambition, He expresses His desire, will and intention through us. We become His vessel, and He is glorified.
When we embrace the cross and submit to His government, we actually enjoy His divine rule and we enter into His divine purpose. We discover, in the process, that this is not bondage, but blessed freedom. For many of us, this is the first we are aware that we have been in bondage.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22,23)
Everything in our lives functions properly under the rulership of God. It is not His intention simply to set us free from the bondage of the world, He intends to turn our captivity to Himself. When we submit to that, He leads us in a walk of constantly unfolding revelation of His plan and purpose.
That is an exciting turn for us. We begin to live a life of uncertainty without insecurity.
At that point, we surrender to the leading of His Holy Spirit. With the Holy Spirit on the throne of our hearts, we express the fruit of His habitation.
How do we know when this transpires? It's easy. Our daily lives reflect either the deeds of the flesh, or the fruit of the Spirit. If we express the way of the flesh, it means we still inhabit the throne of our hearts. It means also, by refusing to be captive to God's leading, we are, by default, subject to the bondage of the world.
On the other hand, if we submit to the leadership of the Spirit of Christ, we reflect the fruit of His Spirit, whether we realize it or not. If He is in charge, He expresses Himself through us, and the world sees the fruit. This is nothing we manufacture, it is the result of His dominant presence.
We need only monitor our personal lives and see whether we walk after the flesh or after the Spirit. Remember, For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace...and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:6,8).
When we find ourselves subject to outbursts of anger or moments of jealousy or envy, or when we hold a loved one in higher esteem than we hold God (idolatry), we recognize those as deeds of the flesh.
But when we have peace beyond understanding, when we love others regardless of their behavior, when we have joy in our hearts in spite of our circumstances, we recognize those characteristics as fruit of the Spirit. We don't need an engineering degree to figure which is the best way to walk.
All we have to do is monitor our thoughts and our behavior, and we know who occupies the throne of our hearts. This is a daily choice, a decision of our wills, following an exercise of our faith. Do we have faith to give all control to the Holy Spirit? The answer to that question determines our destiny.
Jesus is King!
P.S. What are you doing of eternal value?
Question for today: Am I a Christian for God's benefit, or for my own?