“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). To live in the Spirit is to be controlled by the love of God. When the New Testament speaks to the new life we have been raised to walk in, faith in Jesus expressed in love to others is it. Through His Spirit, God has poured His love into our hearts and has given us the desire to walk by faith in Jesus. As we do, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Learning to say “no” is the by-product of saying “yes” to the Spirit.
It is important to understand this distinction. So many well-intentioned believers spend a life time trying to overcome sin in their lives. They wake up each morning with this prayer on their lips: “Lord, please help me to not sin today.” At the end of the day, they look back only to see their prayer went unanswered.
A better prayer is this: “Lord, teach me to abide in you and to follow the leading of God’s Spirit in my life.” God’s Spirit is never going to lead us into sin. He leads us to trust in the Lord, to live righteous and upright lives. He leads us to love and serve others. If living out the Spirit’s work in our lives, we will automatically be saying “no” to sin. Peter put it this way:
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4
Walking in the Spirit is trusting God to complete the work He began in us. We can count on Him to complete this task, even when we do not fully cooperate. This is His promise to us: “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son…”
When we do get off course, and we will, the Holy Spirit merely recalculates our journey and continues His work in conforming us to the image of His Son. He does so without condemnation. Nor does He manipulate us with fear and guilt to get us back on track. He uses our mistakes, reminding us of the forgiveness we have in Christ, and works them together for our good. He comforts our hearts with this amazing promise: “that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
You are not alone on your journey. Jesus is there with you every step of the way. Trust Him, rely upon Him, and live out what He is working in your life. When you do you will be saying “no” to sin and “yes’ to the will of God.
The center of God’s will, that’s the place where believers are to live their lives. Temptation may look exciting; the world makes sure of that. But it has nothing on its menu that can satisfy the soul and bring contentment to the heart.
The world promises happiness, but delivers pain, sorrow and misery. There is only one person who does deliver on his promises, Jesus. And He gives so much more than mere happiness. Peace, contentment, a life of godliness and love: these are His gifts of grace to us.
And there is nothing more rewarding than experiencing Jesus living His life through you.
It is time for us abandon ourselves to Jesus, to put all that we are in His hands. It is time for us to live out Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Let’s walk by the Spirit and discover that His will is good, pleasing and perfect for us.