16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. (Galatians 5:16-17 CSB)
Following our fleshly desires is the easiest thing in the world. In fact it is exactly what the world, and the ruler of this world our enemy, wants of us. Just go with your feelings. Do what you want, what feels good. Satisfy that desire you have, you deserve it!
But that is not the way we have been called to. That is not the way of the Spirit.
The Spirit will have us take a different path that is typically contrary to the worlds direction. When we walk by the Spirit, life may not be easier, but we are filled. We are Spirit filled and nothing can shake us. Even though everything around us may be in turmoil, we are calm and lifted up by the Spirit.
It is only when we let the world in to compete with the Spirit that we feel the fight within and without.
12 Indeed, this is our boast: The testimony of our conscience is that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you, with godly sincerity and purity, not by human wisdom but by God’s grace. (2 Corinthians 1:12 CSB)
What is the value of a clear conscience?
Anyone who has struggled with this will tell you that it is invaluable. When something is weighing upon our conscience it takes on a life of its own. It can cloud our thinking, weigh us down, fatigue mind and body.
Christ gives us a path to a clear conscience. He died to forgive our sins and trespasses. So that we may have a fresh start. This does not mean that we may not have to deal with the consequences of that which weighs heavy upon our conscience. But we can know, without a doubt, that God’s forgiveness is there for us.
Furthermore, with a clear conscience our testimony is stronger and we are more confident giving it.
18 Timothy, my son, I am giving you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies previously made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the good fight, 19 having faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and have shipwrecked their faith. (1 Timothy 1:18-19 CSB)
The Word provides us a tool for navigating a life of faith. It provides us a sounding board for just about anything we might endeavor to do in this life as well. It is a moral compass that worked in conjunction with the Spirit.
But human will is a very strong thing.
Even when we know the right path we may decide to go a different way. God gave us free will and as such we, in our human fallen state, will often follow our will rather than the will of God for our life.
This is where the shipwrecks happen.
Lives run aground or get dashed upon rocky times and we wonder why. Even though we have been following our own wide path and not staying to the more difficult narrow path of living our faith.
We all make choices in life.
1 Be gracious to me, God, be gracious to me,
for I take refuge in you.
I will seek refuge in the shadow of your wings
until danger passes. (Psalm 57:1 CSB)
I have recently run into a number of hurting people. People who feel they have no where to turn, no one to lean upon in their most difficult time. We can lend some comfort but we cannot provide the deep relief that a burdened soul can sometimes need.
However, we can take comfort and refuge in the shadow of God’s wings as he spreads them above us to shelter us.
We can provide momentary relief, a shoulder to cry upon, a listening ear or a comforting word. God can provide peace and relief from our worries and pain.
If we will but let Him.
7 For none of us lives for himself, and no one dies for himself. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. (Romans 14:7-8 CSB)
Remembering, ultimately (eternally), we live now for an audience of one. We will each stand before God and answer for the lives we lived.
Christ atonement for our sin changes this singular audience from something fearful to something beautiful.
However, this does not release us from our need to live our life in a way consistent with this singular audience. We will still have to answer for how we lived.
Each moment of each day upon this earth plants a seed in our soul. Thomas Merton said this and it is so very true. Every thought and act of our every moment we must consider if our actions speak to our beliefs.
Are they in concert?
This is the ultimate question of our lives.
“If anyone comes after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
Deny myself and take up my cross. That does not sound like any kind of fun. For those who think the message of the New Testament is one of flower and roses need but read this passage. Christ was warning us that it would not be the wide easy path, but the narrow and difficult one we must travel.
But the reward is great.
This path will require discipline and hard work. It will require much from us but provide rewards without measure in eternity. Ours is just to work upon the journey with an eye to the destination. To accept the rough road, the hard weather, the difficult vallies so we can reach the summit.
I am not trying to discourage you in your walk, but prepare you. This is what Christ is saying.
Ours may not be an easy path, but it is a rewarding path. One that provides, daily, the opportunity to be significant.
12 For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 CSB)
Thoughts and intentions. Would that we knew or understood these in ourselves much less others. On second though, maybe we do not want to know others. We would most likely not like what we discovered.
Scripture, though, when read and understood seems to always get to the heart of the matter. It roots out our own motives and exposes them to the light of God’s precepts and Christ teaching.
Thus, when we open ourselves to Christ and then to the Word our thoughts and intentions are laid bare. We can no longer hide behind our ignorance of what is expected.
It becomes very clear and if we are following the Word then our thoughts and intentions are clear to others.