It’s Monday Grace!
So, okay, I believe in Jesus and trust Him for my salvation. I want to please Him with my life. I want everything He wants for me, and I want to avoid the things He warns me against. I really do.
But why is it that I fail so often? Why do I get angry or lie or cheat or do things I know I shouldn’t do? Why do I forget to pray, neglect my Bible, and walk through so many of my days unaware of His presence? And where do all these awful thoughts come from?
Well, here’s the problem we all face. We are saved, completely, with nothing more to do to become more saved. Those who look to Jesus find Him and receive the life He gives them. He is our life. He will carry us through death to be with Him forever. But here and now, in this life, we still remember the old ways. In fact, the old ways are still our default mode.
As we grew up, we learned a system of living, a way of life that worked more or less. It became habitual, ingrained. We see life in categories and patterns because that’s how we learned to cope with the craziness and fear. And we learned some bad things and some dumb things.
When you see two people laughing at something and they quit just as you come up to them, do you wonder if they were talking about you? Whether they were or not, the thought goes through your mind because you have learned to fear it. Do you flinch when someone raises their hand quickly to you? Perhaps you still have a response that came from times when you were hit. These things get deep into our subconscious minds.
In the same way, anger pops up when we feel threatened or cheated or accused because we feel we have to defend ourselves. That was what we learned before we knew Jesus. Fear comes when we face uncertain circumstances because we remember and anticipate pain and suffering. Even though we believe with our conscious minds that Jesus is enough for us and His is the only opinion that matters, we still react by default according to what we learned before we knew Him.
This is what the Bible calls the flesh and what Paul tells us not to walk in. We are to walk in the Spirit, to think according to the Spirit, because we no longer have to be controlled by our flesh. The world system and the coping mechanisms we learned no longer have power over us. But our flesh, our memory and habit patterns, usually has to be convinced.
So, lust and anger and fear and worry and bitterness and all the negative emotions that move us to wrong thoughts and actions still have influence in our lives because of this flesh in which we live. One day we will be rid of it forever. In the meantime, we have to remind ourselves of who and Whose we are.
Does Jesus know about this? Of course, He does! He knows that you and I fail. He knows about our fears and worries and temptations. He loves us and walks with us through all of them. He calls us to give more and more to Him so that we don’t have to be under such destructive and confusing influence, but He also understands why we fail so often.
Never forget that the goal of the Christian life is not perfection, not perfect thinking or behavior. Those things will be ours forever when the flesh is left behind. No, the goal of the Christian life is to be with Jesus. The more we live in and enjoy His presence, the more we will find the influence of the flesh slipping away. Then we will live and walk in the Spirit.
Your failure does not separate you from the Lord who loves you. It only serves as a reminder that you should draw nearer to Him and His love. He is always looking for that “closer walk” with you.
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.