11 October 2016
Two Ways of Living
I say be guided by the Spirit and you won’t carry out your selfish desires. A person’s selfish desires are set against the Spirit, and the Spirit is set against one’s selfish desires. They are opposed to each other, so you shouldn’t do whatever you want to do. But if you are being led by the Spirit, you aren’t under the Law. The actions that are produced by selfish motives are obvious, since they include sexual immorality, moral corruption, doing whatever feels good, idolatry, drug use and casting spells, hate, fighting, obsession, losing your temper, competitive opposition, conflict, selfishness, group rivalry, jealousy, drunkenness, partying, and other things like that. I warn you as I have already warned you, that those who do these kinds of things won’t inherit God’s kingdom.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this.
- Galatians 5.16-23
These verses express the constant battle between two ways of living. So much of what our world values is satisfying the flesh but not the spirit. If we live by way of the world, we live for today, in a selfish way, because that is all there is for us. In that, there is nothing else to look forward to. This is the life we have, so live it up. Do what makes you happy in that respect because there is nothing after this life, and there are no guarantees.
The way of the spirit, and following Jesus, in contrast, lives life to the fullest today because we are already in the beginning of New Creation and we are building that beauty now, which will be perfected one day, when all of creation is redeemed. There is a promise of what is to come, of the joy of Jesus returning and raising believers to bodily life again in a new creation, as the old sinful world melts away.
It is an image hard to conceptualize because we have to rely so heavily on our imaginations, but Scripture tells us of Jesus' coming, and it is not just something that will happen in time, it will end time as we know it, to enter into something better than we could possibly conjure in our finite minds.
So, this way of the spirit looks beyond our present situation of the flesh, to that which is eternal and good. While we are still here in time, we have these qualities of the spirit to focus on, to keep us God-centered rather than self-centered. If we let God give us the desires of our hearts, our intentions and actions will reflect that purity, and the fruitfulness of that will spread to our family and friends.
Thirsting all the long night
For a drink of light.
- George MacDonald