But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. Galatians 5:16
Most Christians claim to want a close relationship with God so they can sense His presence in their life, get His guidance and direction, and have His help in their time of need and struggle. What many Christians do not seem to grasp is the truth of scripture that to walk with God will mean living by His Spirit and denying the desires of the flesh. This means God leads and empowers us as we trust in Him and obey Him. We follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit, which is always in agreement with the Word of God. We must submit to Him and live by faith. This also means we must deny our flesh, which is our self-will and self-rule, in order to surrender to God’s rule. This is where the conflict and struggle lies. We cannot live by the flesh/self-rule which opposes God and His leadership, and meanwhile also walk/live in close fellowship with God at the same time. We must choose which we want for our life! This is exactly why Jesus taught that to be His disciple, we must “deny ourselves, take up our our cross daily, and follow Him” (Luke 9:23). We come to Jesus for salvation and can receive forgiveness as a free gift, but to then live in close fellowship requires a disciple’s life, not a wayward one. God gives His blessing and presence to those who seek to honor Him and love Him, not those who disobey Him and disrespect Him. It is a relationship, one where we recognize His authority and love for us, and we respond in faith, love and gratitude. This has very important and practical implications and impact for each of us. Do we want to live as Spirit-filled people who have the peace, joy and love of God controlling us and flowing through us to others? Well, it comes down to whether or not we will surrender to God and His Spirit in us so He can use us. We cannot be on the throne of our life “calling the shots” and say God is the one in charge. My friends, this is a daily decision that each of us must make for himself or herself. No one can do this for us and God will not force it on us. We must choose to respond to God in love, as true love is always based on a free will choice and not coercion. Because we chose to put God first yesterday is no guarantee we will do so today or tomorrow. Each day we choose who we will serve: God or self! I pray we all obey the greatest of commandments and “love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength” today, and everyday, through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Mark 12:29-30) If we do, we can “walk by the Spirit” and enjoy God as He intends for us.
Pastor Gary Houdek