"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." (NIV)
A NEW HARVEST
Below is a question that challenged me as I was recently looking at commentaries concerning the instructions Moses gave to his people for right living in the Book of Deuteronomy. David Grabbe wrote this in an article published in The Berean. I can’t help but think that ifJesus were writing a letter to the body of Christ today, it might reflect the same content of this man’s writings.
“What kind of witness does a person make who keeps the Ten Commandments (including the Sabbath and holy days), eats only clean meats, tithes faithfully, and rejects false doctrines, yet has a temper, curses, tells dirty jokes, has a perpetual chip on his shoulder, always has a complaint against another, always looks out for "number one," drinks too much, and revels in perverse entertainment? Such a witness of nominal lawkeeping is useless to God, just as ancient Israel's witness to the nations gave the enemies of God an occasion to blaspheme (Ezekiel 36:20-23).
When Jesus Christ introduces Himself in the letter to the Laodicean church (Revelation 3:14), He highlights the fact that He is "the Faithful and True Witness." He points to this title to show where the Laodiceans fall short. They are so enamored of the world and so much a part of it that it is difficult for an observer to tell them apart from the rest of Babylon! Their lives do not glorify God because they do not demonstrate a separation from the world. They do not demonstrate holiness or sanctification.
In contrast, the result of the Holy Spirit being active in a person's life will be love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (meekness), and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). These attitudes are not manifested all at once, which is why Paul calls them "fruit." Fruit takes time to develop and mature. Nevertheless, one whose life God dominates, who is led by His Spirit, will be exhibiting these things in addition to obeying God's law. He will be not merely obeying but also imitating God. He will be exhibiting these characteristics because he is a regenerated Son of God who expresses the traits of his Father.”
Although I certainly agree with what Grabbe writes, I think it is important to note that if people are looking for perfection in Christians they will be disappointed. The only difference between a Christian and a non-believer is Christ. When we accept Jesus into our heart we gain a helper to achieve what we could never accomplish on our own (John 14:26).
Did you hear it? “Fruit takes time to develop and mature.” Discovering this has been extremely helpful to me when I have been tempted to believe that I have blown it. Although I am confident in the gift of salvation, the sanctification process is something that will be on going throughout ones life. We would be wise to exhibit patience as we work at refusing condemnation over our character flaws. Accept God’s conviction (the Spirit showing us the error of our ways) and enjoy freedom from your sinful nature, which is what Jesus died to give you.
Without genuine repentance of what God reveals, we continue to fool ourselves. May I suggest some time in Galatians 5:22-25 this week. Like me, you may discover that you are in need of some “Miracle Grow” in some specific areas. When we desire to make changes and do things God’s way, we will begin to sprout new growth and it will be evident to those who recognize God’s work. People who have Christ alive and active on the inside of them, no longer desire to grieve the Father. When the Spirit reveals something is wrong, they get on it.
When we’re operating under the power of the Holy Spirit, we do have the ability to reflect God’s character in a fallen, sinful world. However, I can assure you that it will require a constant diligence on your part. Living in this world and not being of it is extremely difficult, (Romans 12:2) but it is necessary to be a part of God’s team. Our sinful nature craves our way and the Bible tells us that our way leads to death. To glorify God we must crucify our sinful nature daily.
When God holds up the mirror of the heart, pay attention. The Bible says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Keep your hammer close by at all times. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit (Gal. 5:24-25). We keep in step with the Spirit by dying to self and choosing to live and act God’s way. When we do this, the harvest will have God’s stamp of approval.
Life’s Application Commentary:
As Christians we still have the capacity to sin, but we have been set free from sin’s power over us and no longer have to give in to it. We must daily commit our sinful tendencies to God’s control, daily crucify them, and moment by moment draw on the Spirit’s power to overcome them (see 2:20; 6:14).
Additional Scripture Reading: 1 John 2:15-17
Book suggestion: Layers by Sandi Patty
Uncovering and Celebrating God’s Original Idea of You
Today’s prayer: Father, may your light shine on any dark crevice that still remains inside of us. Help us to overcome the tendency to please self, over doing what is right in your sight. Guide us, as we desire to make positive changes in our lives and thank you for the gift of your Spirit who is ready and willing to help us every step of the way. In Your Son’s name we pray, Amen.
Our heavenly Father has been waiting…longing to pull us into His loving embrace and tell us the sweetest wonders about ourselves. – Sandi Patty