Spirituality: Simply Complicated

Gal 5:16 ESV – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

 This is so simple, I am amazed how so few get it.

It is so complicated, there is no wonder that so few live it.

Simple, yet complicated.

This is a plain statement that we do well to understand–especially, if you have trouble with the flesh rearing its ugly head in your life.

First of all, notice that the reverse is NOT true–not gratifying the desires of the flesh will not make, nor prove spirituality. Many have forsaken this world, gone to the mountaintop to “contemplate their navel”, but all they become are aesthetics. That is not spirituality. It is not walking by the Spirit. Giving up some aspect of the flesh may be a penitent act, but it will not overcome the desires of the flesh.

No. The only way to overcome the flesh, with its desires that are against the Spirit, is to walk–or live–by the Spirit.

Secondly, notice that the word ‘Spirit’ is capitalized. There are no initial capital letters in the Uncial Greek (which is written in all caps) copies we have. Initial capitalization is a part of interpretation.

When we see ‘Spirit’ capitalized, we automatically interpret the word to mean ‘Holy Spirit.’ Is that necessarily true? Is that an accurate rendition of πνευμα (pneuma)?

If it is not the Holy Spirit that was intended in this verse, then may I suggest for your consideration that it refers to your own spirit?

Before you go thinking I have fallen off the deep end, take time to remember the new birth and what that entails and enables. What is it that was dead in us that needed to be made alive? (Eph 2:1-9)

I also understand the meaning and intent of Rom. 8:14. There we are told that we are to be “…led by the Spirit of God…” In fact, that verse is emphatic in the Greek and means that ONLY those who are led by the Spirit of God can be considered sons of God.

And this brings us back to my original reason for this post: how are we to be led by the Spirit?

Let’s look at the verse again with the new consideration: But I say, walk by the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Does that put it into a different perspective for you?

Putting Romans 8:14 and Galatians 5:16 together I can see that the Holy Spirit leads me through my spirit that has been born anew of God.

Spirit is that inexplicable, unidentifiable, indefinable ethereal part of us that is in connection with God.

It is the part of you that is now growing in relation to the Lord.

We are made of three parts–spirit, soul, and body–and theologians refer to this make-up as the tri-partite man.

The body is the Existence.

The soul is the Expression.

The spirit is the Essence.

Before Christ, you were dead in your transgressions and sins (Eph. 2:1). It was your spirit that was dead.

Before Christ, all you knew was to follow after and fulfil the desires of the flesh. Your soul (personality, if you will) has grown accustomed to that expression of your being. It manifests a fleshly nature. That is its habit.

But, now, your spirit has come alive and is trying to grow and manifest a different reality. The soul doesn’t recognize this new reality, and often reverts to its habitual expressions.

However, you are wanting to be led by the spirit.

It is a practice; a learning of a new way of doing things, of expressing things.

It takes time. But you are changing and growing.

The more you learn to respond to the spirit and its desires, the less you will fulfil the desires of the flesh.

NOTE: This is the fifth in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Galatians. I am not the only one who is writing on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter five of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put this link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: http://www.philter48.com/bbs/ and make it a point to visit everyday.

It’s So Easy!!

Galatians 5:16       But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.

Here we have the formula for success in the Christian life and walk: Live by the Spirit and you won’t fulfill the desires of the flesh.

Nothing could be more simply stated than this; yet the struggles to not sin in the Christian life are tremendous–and for some, seemingly insurmountable.

The problem is that too many of us spend our time trying to NOT sin. This will only yield weak and temporary results at best. Following this method usually ends as an exercise in futility.

One of the main reasons this occurs is called the Law of Focus: what you focus on is what you get.

When you go on a diet, and you decide (for instance) that you will not eat banana splits anymore, it seems that the opportunity for a banana split is everywhere more accessible than ever. Just like when you buy a new car–all of a sudden, you see the same car on the highway in numbers you had never noticed before. It’s the Law of Focus. You will eventually cave in and eat that banana split you were so determined to avoid.

Safety courses in driving teach the same thing, especially when in dangerous situations. Do not look at the thing you want to avoid, because you will most likely hit it. Look, rather at where you want to go. (Does that not remind you of Hebrews 12:2—Looking unto Jesus?)

The exact same thing is true with sin–whatever its particular appearance may be in our life. Trying to not sin, to avoid committing that particular sin, almost always ends in failure at some point. Then we must throw ourselves on the mercy of God yet again.

Thank God for His mercy. Without it, we would all be totally lost and undone without remedy.

But, there is a better way. And Paul tells us what it is in this verse from Galatians.

Utilizing the Law of Focus, let us decide to live by the Spirit. Make that your ambition, your matter of prayer for help in time of need.

The one whose focus is on living in, with, by, through, and for the Spirit will find himself doing the will of God more easily and readily than the one who is trying to avoid offending the Lord.

Ephesians 5:10 tells us that we should be trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord–not trying to learn what offends Him.

If you can see this Law of Focus as it applies to pleasing the Lord, and begin to apply it on a moment-by-moment basis, your life will change dramatically for the better.

Try it. You’ll like it.

Led by the Spirit or the natural?

 

Gal 5:16-18 

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.  The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved. 

Living by the spirit, led by the Spirit as opposed to being led by the natural man, the physical man. 

  • The law exposes sin, the physical or natural nature of mankind, it does not create it, it showcases it.  And  there are consequences for actions and thoughts that come from natural man.
  • The spirit leads one in opposition to nature. 
  • Follow the Spirit’s lead and you will demonstrate the fruit of the spirit rather than the fruit of the natural man.
  • Stand in line at the checkout, you’re in a hurry, running late, the people ahead of you know the cashier and are slowing her down with personal conversation.  How do you react?
  • Irritation gives way to anger which is demonstrated in hurtful behavior.  This is natural man.
  • Spirit has patience, sees beyond the circumstances, rises above them and therefore demonstrates behavior that gives evidence of patience.
  • Spirit sees beyond the physical.  Faith in God guides us to being Spirit-led.  “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen.”  We trust in God, we have faith in God and His Spirit leads us to actions and thoughts that are outside the realm of the natural man.