by Mike Ratliff
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, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:16-18 ESV)
Christians who have stumbled and fallen into sin have done so because they have taken their eyes off of their Saviour as they were running the race the Father has set before them. (Hebrews 12:1-2) Often what distracted them from leaning on Jesus or clinging to Him in utter dependence was a desire to do something that appeared to be a good work. However, as they tried to do that work they had to step away from their abiding in the Lord and, instead, depended on their own abilities. This removed them for the Lord’s protection from deception. Before long, they found themselves entangled or mired in something they never thought would happen to them. However, the fact that they realize this is a very good thing. Unfortunately, there are scores of Christian leaders and their followers who are clueless that they are walking in darkness.
We have it in our minds that sin is something like lying or stealing or killing. For some reason it does not naturally occur to us that it is also sin to try to do good works in order to please God, but it is totally outside of His grace.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)
What we must understand is that the only way we can do good works for God’s glory is as we abide in Christ. That means we are yoked up with Him and we are following Him as we carry our crosses. We have died to self and are now living for Him. The only way we can do this is to live in Spirit by walking by the Spirit.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:1-8 ESV)
All in Christ are free from the condemnation that is against all who are still in their sins. Christians have been set free Christ Jesus. God, according the righteousness of Jesus Christ, has declared them righteous. He has imputed it to them. Also, they have been regenerated. They are new creations. Adam was able to sin, but he was also able to not sin. However, after the fall, Adam and his descendants fell into a horrible condition where they are able to sin, but also, unable to not sin. This is according to the doctrine of Total Depravity. However, God provided a way for man to be saved from the penalty of their sin. That is because our Lord became our propitiation. He took our guilt upon Himself and paid the penalty. Those who believe on Him, receive Him as Lord and Saviour are reborn. They are still able to sin, but they are now back to Adam’s state of being able to not sin. When we are resurrected to be with our Lord forever, we will be like Him. We will be in a new state. We will be able to not sin as well as unable to sin. What a glorious day that will be!
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:9-11 ESV)
As regenerate Christians, we have the ability to live here and now in the Spirit as a present reality. Yes, we are able to sin, but we are also able to not sin. We can walk according the Spirit and live for our Lord’s glory. We can obey Him by and through His grace. Jesus said that if we abide in Him we can do anything God commands, but without Him we can do nothing. (John 15) What must we do to make this a reality in our lives? It starts with repentance, drawing near unto God, asking Him for wisdom, then clinging to Jesus from that point on. Never believe that you can walk righteously without total dependence upon the joy of the Lord strengthening you. If we do that it will not take very long to stumble. However, if we understand that we are completely inadequate to do this then we must turn to Jesus and rely on Him to pull with us since we are yoked up with Him. We can carry our cross this way. When we are going it alone we will find that our crosses just get in the way.
What will it be then? Let us seek the Lord’s face. Ask Him for wisdom and guidance. Cling to Jesus so that this life in the Spirit will become a present reality. Soli Deo Gloria!
Here is the link to Life in the Spirit Part 1.