Section One: The Spiritual Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic Two: Being Empowered.
Our reading for today: Galatians 5: 16-18 (MsgB)
My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?
Sadly, some well-meaning churches teach that once a person gives his or her heart to Jesus and is publicly baptized, that person has “arrived” as a disciple of Christ. And as we mentioned last week, there will be other churches that will only acknowledge a person as a “true disciple” after they’ve been baptized in the Holy Spirit and are operating in the spiritual gift called speaking in tongues.
My, how confusing it can get at times!
But we must remember that while the 21st century Church differs greatly on the details, the New Testament doesn’t actually seem to have that much confusion when it talks about what it means to be a follower of Christ.
Take our passage today from Paul’s letter to the Galatians. In the verses we are pondering on today, it seems pretty clear that the 1st century disciple had an on-going battle between being a person who was choosing to be led and motivated by God’s Spirit, or remain as a slave to, what Paul calls, “a root of sinful self-interest.”
In other words, things like praying the prayer of salvation, being baptized in water, or operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit all might be very good things to do as an outward sign of one’s “followership” of Jesus, but in Paul’s book, a man or woman who truly is a “Christian” needs to fully realize that most of the battle for the cause of Christ is actually within us, not just outside us.
And so the battle for discipleship begins. You may have prayed the prayer of salvation, but you will still need to get up tomorrow morning and know that the old man (or woman) inside you is still very much alive and will need to be dealt with in no small way. You may have immersed yourself in the baptismal waters of Christ, but next week when someone else gets the promotion you deserved, you’ll still need to control the anger and envy that bubbles up deep inside. And yes, as Paul states in his letter to the Corinthians, you may speak eloquently in foreign tongues and even operate regularly in the gift of prophecy, but if you fail to love your brother or sister as Christ loves them, the old is still winning and the new is still yet to come.
So this week, let’s explore a bit more about the amazing role of the Holy Spirit in the life of folks like us…people who’ve given our hearts to Jesus, but still look in the mirror on regular occasions only to see the guy or gal you thought had died on the cross with Jesus!
Because here’s the gut-honest truth about Christian discipleship.
Jesus is alive!
But so is the old man (or woman) who still lives inside me!
My prayer: O.K. God, I don’t like this, but I must fully admit that there is a battle going on inside. I love Jesus, but I still love a lot of things about myself that runs contrary to who You are and what You want to accomplish in and through my life. Holy Spirit, help me to better understand and then embrace Your on-going work in my life, making room for all You do in changing me from the inside out. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: What “erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence” are still trafficking throughout my life? Am I ready to delve into this on-going battle with the unredeemed self? Am I fully aware of how important it is to allow the Holy Spirit to lead the way in this struggle with the old man (or woman) who still lives inside me?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live the Christ-centered life?
Over a thirty-six week period, you and I will take a deeper look into twelve key characteristics of a godly life. In other words, we’ll take A Journey into Christian Discipleship. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Journey home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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