Three keys for #SpiritLife
Galatians 5 & 6
13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”15 …
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.17 ….24 Now those who [k]belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also [l]walk by the Spirit. 26 … 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
As I was reflecting on what traits I see common in those who are experiencing the freedom that we have in Christ, as opposed to those who find themselves stuck in the wilderness of struggle, I was drawn to these verses in Galatians 5 and 6.
Paul calls out what many might see as a surprising antidote to the self-centered living that clouds those in the grip of pornography: serving others.
I know when I was bound in sexual sin and lies and confusion, the last thing on my mind was “how can I serve someone else’s interests today?” Rather, my life was consumed with MY schedule, MY priorities, MY plans, and MY goals. A life ruled by the kingdom of Me is headed for imminent destruction – whether to the pit of pornography or the graveyards of greed; its demise is certain.
Thankfully there are eternal truths in God’s Word that give us hope and a way of escape.
To live in freedom is to live ‘serving others’ and putting the interests of others above that of our own (Phil 2:4).
Serving others is not possible in our own strength so we must sow in the Spirit. The law of sowing and reaping has been polluted for personal gain and gimmick over the ages – but it does not negate the truth of the principle that God himself set in place.
If we sow to our flesh and our own interests, our rewards will be short-lived, temporal, and destructive. But the great hope of the Gospel is that spiritual sowing bears eternal spiritual fruit. Sandwiched between Galatians 5:13 and Galatians 6:9 is the signs of a life empowered by Holy Spirit, commonly memorized as ‘the fruits of the Spirit’.
But what if you took the opposite and did a pulse check on your flesh-man? If the fruit of sowing to the Spirit is ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…. self-control’, then the fruit of sowing to the flesh is ‘selfishness (the opposite of love), despair, chaos, anxiousness (the opposite of patience), quick-tempered… instant-gratification’.
So which fruit consists in greater abundance in your heart?
Those who live in freedom know that a harvest of spiritual fruit only follows seasons of sowing in the Spirit.
A life ruled by the kingdom of Me is headed for imminent destruction – whether to the pit of pornography or the graveyards of greed; its demise is certain.– BrokenFree.org
A final commonality I see in those living in freedom is persistence in ‘doing good’ and drawing near to The Lord.
Paul warns us of our own propensity to ‘grow weary in doing good’ (6:9) which results in missing the blessing of the harvest. Just like the route from Egypt to the Red Sea was not the shortest and most direct, so it is that often the pathway from captivity to freedom is commonly a marathon and not a ‘moment’ or a sprint.
In our have-it-now culture, we easily grow weary of waiting for what God has promised and decided we have had enough of God-time and it’s time to make change happen. It’s a dangerous heart position to be complaining about the ‘slowness of God’ and questioning His goodness.
How many lessons do we need from history and scripture before we will learn that God is not slow in keeping His promises?
I know of many men (and women) who decided that they had waited for God long enough – only to not see what they were asking for come to fruition – and they decided to move on. When we move ahead on our own self-determined timeline and decide we have had enough, we exchange His desired eternal harvest for our temporal yield and comfort.
Sometimes that looks like giving into a lifestyle that ‘fits my natural desires’ rather than waiting for God’s promise of a renewed mind.
Sometimes that meant leaving a wife who still had not recovered from wounds inflicted by years of porn and promiscuity.
Sometimes it shows itself by settling for what peers or popular voices call normal and acceptable habitual struggles rather than pressing into what the Bible calls normal Christ-following.
It’s a dangerous heart position to be complaining about the ‘slowness of God’ and questioning His goodness.
Sustaining your pursuit of the presence of the Lord, rather than coasting or throwing in the towel, is key for living in the freedom of the promised land. The promise is you will reap a harvest if you do not give up!
The outcome of living a life of serving others, sowing into the Spirit, and sustaining the process is that He becomes greater and you become less (John 3:30).
If your pulse check on your flesh-man shows a strong flesh-heart and a weak Spirit-man, then I encourage you to stop now and ask the Lord of the Harvest to pour out His Spirit… and continue to ask (Matthew 7:7) until His promises are manifested.
One of my favorite verses is the promise in Jeremiah 33:3 – and I encourage you to make it yours too: “Call to me and I will answer, says the Lord, and show you great and unsearchable things you do not yet know.“