Thursday, June 2
Reader: “Let the Holy Spirit guide your lives.”
Response: “Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.”
Scripture: Galatians 5:16-25
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.
“Good morning, good afternoon, or good night” or for whenever you read this. Paul’s words apply at any time of the day or night! He has previously called his brothers and sisters to live free of trying to keep Moses’ law perfectly. It can’t be done. At the same time, don’t cast everything aside and go morally crazy. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” With that background, we come to the above passage, “So I say . . . “
Paul describes so perfectly the way our lives are actually lived. There is a clear cause and effect relationship. “Let” the Holy Spirit guide, “then you won’t . . .” All too often our sequence is “try harder” and “then you will [fail]. . .” The difference between “let” and “try harder” is night and day, it’s the contrast between having God the Holy Spirit guiding me or me trying to guide me. Have you ever determined that you would get “control” of something that had you in its grasp? In your mind, you were determined that such and such would not happen again, you would try harder next time . . . only to have it reoccur in spite of your best determination. Such is the difference between “let” and “try.”
As long as we are alive there is a daily war going on within us. Surprise! There is no truce in this life. The lying enemy, though ultimately defeated, is fighting a last gasp. This gasping battle lasts your whole lifetime. Ironically, when you die, you win and the enemy is one step closer to its total destruction. The enemy is our sinful nature, the one with which we were born. When the “let” involves this nature, the results are absolutely predictable every time. Everyone separated from Christ is ruled by this nature and we see the abundant results of the fruit of sinful living―indifference to God, murder, infanticide, greed for power, arrogance, immorality of every possible manifistation, divisiveness, selfish ambition, anger . . . It’s quite a list and that’s only the start!
But each day starts anew with a “let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” You know the Spirit’s fruits. Now comes the daily hammer. When you open your eyes in the morning, pick up your hammer. You nail the sinful nature (it didn’t die in the night!) to the cross again to start your day. In nailing it to the cross, you are reminding your old nature that it lost again today. The Holy Spirit of God is in charge again today. (It may be worth putting a nail on your night stand by the alarm clock just to remind you.) As Paul says, “Let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Most likely you’ll have to pick up the hammer a few times during the day! The old sin nature is a nasty creature.
Music: “I Need Thee Every Hour” arr. Robson Wartburg Choir Fantastic!
Prayer:O Thou who has taught us that we are most truly free when we lose our wills in Thine, help us to gain that liberty by continual surrender unto thee, that we may walk in the way which Thou hast prepared for us, and in doing Thy will may find our life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. ―from Gelasian Sacramentary, The Quiet Corner, p.46