Last week the pastor talked about discipline as it relates to fasting. If your teeth are important to you then you will find time and effort to brush every day. If your car is important to you then you will spend either time or money keeping it clean and maintained. If money is important then you will keep a budget and stick to that budget. If family is important then you will give up part of your life for them. These things require discipline and they are not easy to do, but for the rest of your life these things might consume some part of your day. In the same way I believe that when you are marked by the Holy Spirit and become a child of God that truly you want to make him important in your life. Changes start to occur, new habits like going to Church become important. However life gets in the way. Choices are made and suddenly we are beating ourselves up for not reading more, praying more, and just not having the discipline in place that we know we should have.
I have been reading Galatians the last week or so and chapter 5 has caught my attention and my meditations. In this chapter Paul talks about the difference of living by the spirit vs. living by the passions of the sinful nature. I think this chapter speaks to us and calls us to a new view of God and how he operates.
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. Galatians 5:17 ESV
Paul is agreeing with us that he knows we want to do the right thing. I know you do not want to get angry at family, I know you do not want to lust and cheat on your spouse, I know you do not want to participate in things that the world wants, the things that put a barrier between you and God. There is opposition to being disciplined in the things of God.
15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. Romans 7:15-17 ESV
Paul however gives you an out. If you hate the sin and really do not want to do it anymore then you have agreed with the law and that is a wonderful thing. That is the Holy Spirit speaking to you a child of God. We think in our heart… Father I know these things are wrong, so why do I keep on doing them? Paul tells us that now it is no longer me doing it but the sin that dwells within me. God has separated the sin from me. As his Child you can approach him even when you do the things you do not want to do. We must remember this because we only hurt ourselves when we pull away from him or from his church when we fail. That is what the enemy wants… to compound the issue and make us withdraw from God by accusing us. If you still love the sin and want to continue in it then I challenge you to examine your faith. Salvation in Christ may not be secured. If you are not convicted by the Holy Spirit once your sins are pointed out then you are in for trouble.
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 ESV
On the flip side of this is to live by the Spirit. Right after telling us what the works of the flesh look like Paul tells us what the “fruit” of the Holy Spirit looks like.
22 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
How do we keep away from our sinful desires long enough to see the season in our life where we bear fruit by the Holy Spirit? How do we stay engaged and changed long enough to enjoy the fellowship of the church? What about enjoying the encouragement and trust of our fellow believers? Most importantly where is the peace that comes from a deep abiding relationship with Christ our Savior?
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 ESV
How then does one live and walk by the Spirit? Well that is where discipline comes into play. We must strive to make God’s word precious to our very being as much as we need air, food, or light. Prayer and time alone with God must be treated as a daily need for our very survival. Fellowship of the believers to encourage and challenge must be viewed as important as showing up for work.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105 ESV
But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 ESV
Dear Church, Child of God, and Lambs of Christ the good Shepard. Would you renew that daily discipline of spending time with God in His Word, In Prayer with Him, and in fellowship with your brothers and sisters? Are you willing to bend your schedule around Him? Are you willing to cast aside diversions that prevent your time with him? Will you consider the place He has in your life so in the right season you will bear fruit of the Spirit that gives Him glory?