We’ve spent several lessons talking about letting the Holy Spirit rule our lives, and what the fruit of the Spirit looks like in action. We’ve talked about yielding to the Spirit and giving control over to our God. The truth is, though, that we so easily resist the Spirit and try to do things our way. We want to live by the flesh as outlines in Galatians 5:19-21:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Resisting the Spirit – The Challenge
Academically, we all know that living by the flesh makes it impossible to please God, as Paul points out in Romans 8:6-8. The problem is that, in the moment, the satisfaction that can come from fleshly living can be a more powerful motivator than Spirit living. We know when we are walking into a bad situation and choosing to sin, but the immediate payoff is strong. We are lying to ourselves if we deny that a life of sin can look more compelling at a glance.
Resisting the Spirit can help us succeed financially. We don’t feel so beholden to such strong ethics on how we make money, nor will we be spending time at church when we could be working. We can talk ourselves into ignoring the guilt sinful behavior should bring, and such living can simply seem more fun. We’re gaining instant gratification for whatever passions we choose. The temptation to simply give up self-control makes Spirit living a challenge.
Resisting the Spirit – The Results
Unfortunately, living with less control can lead to consequences in this life. While there may be immediate gratification for giving in to temptation, it can also lead to pain in the long run. How many marriages break up because one partner or the other fails to exercise self-control? How many relationships are in ruin because one partner or the other simply will not put others before self? Lack of contentment and self-control can also lead to debt and financial ruin.
We can talk about statistics surrounding unplanned pregnancies, broken homes, prison recidivism rates and other crime statistics. We can point to anecdote after anecdote of the effects sin has on lives and homes, but the biggest problem is that such living separates us from God. And the farther we get from God, the harder it can be for us to return. By no means does such sin make it difficult for God to restore us. He can restore anyone who is guilty of anything. Where it gets difficult is within our own hearts.
A Father Who Forgives
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
– Romans 8:12-17
Our hope in the Spirit is this: we have a God who loves us as children and wants to restore us to Him when we fall. He has made the way open to us to live like Him, we have but to let the Spirit into our lives through His word. If we live by the Spirit, we will bear fruit that will enrich our lives and the lives of those around us, and every day brings us closer to our God.
lesson by Aaron Kadel