Disclaimer: Some parts of this blog involve me divulging information about myself of which I am not proud. Sometimes I plumb the depths of my depraved heart for the edification of the reader, even at times at the detriment of my reputation. But the truth is that I just want to be real with the reader. I want you to know that everyone struggles and we are all in need of God’s grace every single day. So, what I’ve written below is a somewhat embarrassing disclosure of some ugly parts of my heart. But I write with a purpose…that you may walk with the Spirit.
I sat down to do some Seminary work about 90 minutes ago; I still haven’t started. Instead, I have sifted through Twitter, Facebook, and various other websites that fit my interests. In short, I have been quite lazy this evening. This is INDICATOR #1.
As I sifted through these social networking sites, I began to notice something: my attitude sucks. Snide thoughts flash through my brain reading others’ posts. I judge people quickly over trivial things. I get real cynical. I become envious of people’s successes and judgmental over what I perceive to be their failures. My heart is no home to the warm fuzzies tonight. In fact, it seems that I am just generally grumpy, judgmental, and hateful today. My heart is some weird, but all too familiar combination of conceited/arrogant and desperately insecure. This is INDICATOR #2.
I am just generally grumpy. I have been snappy with my wife, unpleasant in my own mind, and shut off from others. I am discontent with where my life currently is and with where it seems to be headed. I feel a wreck: hopeless, insecure, frustrated, tired, and scared. This is INDICATOR #3.
Lastly, I have spent considerable time today beating myself up for my sins. I have blatantly disregarded God’s promise in Romans 8:1 that there is no condemnation for me and have fallen back to my intrinsic regard for the law over relationship with Jesus Christ. The gospel is having a hard time bursting through my self-pitying mind to convince me to rest in mercy and grace. This is INDICATOR #4.
Impressed yet? I didn’t think so. So, why am I writing such things? Couldn’t this soil my reputation as a Christian leader and proclaimer of the gospel? Maybe.
The point is this. I know these four indicators all too well. I am embarrassed to admit that this state of heart and mind comes to me frequently. And when it does, I know one thing is for certain: I have not been walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul expounds on the subject of walking with the Spirit in Galatians 5:16-26. He begins in verses 16-17 like this:
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 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.”
What I have experienced tonight and in times past are the desires of the flesh. I apparently have a pretty twisted flesh. Don’t you? (HINT: according to Jeremiah 17:9, the answer is yes, your flesh is twisted, too.)
Paul goes on to list a bunch of sins that one may commit when he or she does not walk with the Spirit, including personal favorites of my flesh like idolatry, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, envy, “and things like these.”
So, that’s the bad news. The diagnosis to my problem, very clearly, is that I have failed to continue on walking according to the Spirit. But, to the praise of His glorious grace, the good news is coming!
Paul goes on to list the fruit of the Spirit, which the believer can anticipate manifesting in his or her life.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Apparently, those who abide in Christ and “have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” will see this kind of fruit in their life! That sounds so much better! Paul ends this section explaining to the reader how to experience the freedom of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:25-26).
Those last three sound a lot like me tonight. Those are the works of the flesh that I’ve allowed to lobby for position in my life. But it stops here. I belong to Christ and will endeavor to daily crucify my flesh, live by the Spirit, and keep in step with the Spirit!
I write these things because I know the symptoms that manifest themselves in my life when my flesh is calling the shots, rather than the life-giving, fruit-producing power of the Holy Spirit. When I see these things in me, I know that I need to repent, get in the Word, and apologize to those whom my flesh has offended.
I recommend studying your heart. Make sure you can recognize the fruits of the flesh that pop up in your life when you stop walking with the Spirit. And when you see these rotten fruits, start preaching the gospel to yourself…you are free, no longer bound my your fleshly sin. You belong to Jesus Christ! Because of this, you are free to walk in the perfect power of the Holy Spirit, instead of the depraved power of your own self!
I could write more, but I have some things I need to do, like sit a while with Jesus, preach the gospel to myself, apologize to my wife, and go to sleep.
Seminary can wait until tomorrow.