April 27, 2008

Walking in the Spirit

One of the women in the Sunday Bible class that I lead has several problems including past abuse. She is hyperactive and continually does and says things to draw attention to herself. I have a burden for her and for the spiritual growth of others in the class so have been praying that God would show me how to help her, and yet not let her dominate the class and drive others away.

On Friday, the Lord reminded me that although our bodies grow old and perish, the spirit of those who know Jesus is “being renewed day by day.” That means that no matter what is happening on the outside, or has happened in the past, the spirit can be renewed. This and other places in the Bible show that Christians are responsible for living for Christ—no matter what, and no matter what—He will hold us accountable for what we do and say. We cannot blame anything or anyone else for disobedience and the sin in our lives.

This woman is a believer. She seems sincere in her desire to live the Christian life. However, her behavior is self-focused and disruptive. It is harming her own growth and that of others. I thought all day yesterday about the damage caused by living according to the flesh, and how Jesus wants us to put others first, to care about their spiritual life and growth, even to confront and restore those who are caught in sinful self-centeredness.

All of this sounds great on paper, but when I got up this morning, my heart was filled with a sort of dread about what I might have to do today concerning this lady. I sensed my own focus turning away from her great need for help. I began thinking more about myself and how I would much rather not have to do anything concerning this issue. As I sat down to read today’s devotional, God brings me back on track with this:
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk 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, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:2-8).
Living by the Law is not part of the gospel. In Christ, sin is condemned by the Law and by Christ, but not conquered by the Law. Only the Spirit of Christ who lives in us can conquer sin. If we listen to Him and do what He says, our lives are pleasing to God. If we do not, we miss out on the rich life and deep peace that He wants for us.

When any Christian turns inward, becomes selfish, forgets the power of God, and does whatever they think will draw attention to themselves, they are living “according to the flesh” and this separates them from the power of God and from the people of God. It is not a good place to be. In fact, when it happens, we know it and we get upset with ourselves. We don’t want to fall back into that old pattern, yet we do. Sometimes we need help to get back on track. We need someone who loves us enough to remind us that we cannot fill the empty place in our hearts if our focus is always on me, me, me.

When I step into class this morning, I need to remember this, first for myself, but also for the lady whose carnal mind and actions are having a divisive and destructive effect on others. How I will deal with it I do not know. I only know that I cannot become self-centered in this either. If I do, I will be thinking only about me and my comfort level. Doing that will make me fleshy and unable to even hear what God wants from me, never mind do it.

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