God has given us the ability to make choices – even in regard to our obedience to the Holy Spirit. The question I’ve been mulling over is this
Do I really want to be led by the Holy Spirit?
Although, my answer is a resounding YES, my behavior doesn’t always match up.
According to Paul, it is not possible to walk by the Spirit and gratify the desires of the flesh – they are in opposition to one another.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do... And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:16-17, 24 ESV)
For me, this means putting to death
- my tendency to place security in material possessions and money
- my desire to seek recognition, approval, and praise of others
- my bent toward idleness, laziness, and self-indulgence
- my need to define my identity.
I look at this list and begin to make a plan of attack – I’ll be better at this, I’ll work on that, etc. But I know from past experience, as long as I continue to try to be holy in my own strength I will fail.
This is life-long journey. It’s the Spirit of God who does the work. Just like salvation, we surrender control and rest in the grace of God.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:3 ESV)
In his book, Forgotten God, Francis Chan reminds us
The Spirit is meant to lead us toward holiness. The Spirit is here with us to accomplish God’s purposes, not ours. When you decide to put to death your flesh, you are by default choosing the way of the Spirit. You are leaving one path and joining another.
Paul goes on in Galatians 5, to tell us the work of the Spirit in our lives will result in fruit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)
In answer to the question of the day, I say YES. I want to be led by the Holy Spirit. And though there will be times I fail to follow, I know my position in Christ is unaffected. By confessing and repenting I am cleansed of all unrighteousness (I John 1:9 ESV).
I may struggle with feelings of self-condemnation, but God doesn’t condemn
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4 ESV)
AMEN and AMEN!
“Why Do You Want Him?” Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, by Francis Chan and Danae Yankoski, David C Cook, 2015.