Walking in the Flesh
In Jesus, Ken Page
When we view the Law as that which we must do to please God we have begun to walk in the flesh. When we set before us target behaviors for us to accomplish we are walking in the flesh. We view our lives as something for us to do "for" God. We begin to exert our will to accomplish things that only God can do. When we obtain our target goals we are polluted by self-righteousness. When we fail these goals we are depressed. Both of these extremes result in our isolation from God rather than the fact that we have been reconciled.
As we progress in this ministry in the flesh we learn to depend on our own work. Manipulation and coercion become the subtle tools of our trade. Our worldly thinking begins to define our values and success. Our attendance numbers measure ministry success. Quality is measured by how things look. Encouraging one another becomes patting each other on the back. People show up to collect bulletins, but they have little to give.
The results of this flesh ministry are devastating. The joy of the Lord is gone. We only minister because we should. Those whom we are "ministering to" are left empty. A lot of energy is expended, but real ministry is minimal. The Apostle Paul says that we will reap what we sow. If we sow to the flesh we will reap the flesh. If we sow to the Spirit we will reap the Spirit.
Walking by the Spirit
"Walking by the Spirit" has mostly eluded my understanding until recently. The "Spirit" has been so defined by many today that I usually conjure up images of tingly vibrations or unexplained events. I believe that walking by the Spirit means simply to live by God within me. It is the opposite of living in my own strength. It is a deep-seated conviction that I am completely dependent on the work of God.
Jesus expressed this Spirit walk when He taught us to "Abide in Him". It begins with the understanding that I can do nothing of my own initiative. Paul said of true believers in Philippians chapter three, that they "glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh". It is impossible to walk by the Spirit and walk in my own strength. The old adage "Pray like it is up to God and work like it is up to you" is not a Christian one.
At least half of what it means to walk by the Spirit is to rest from my human striving. It is to accept by faith the righteousness imparted to me by the work of Christ. I am to forever cease from striving to be pleasing to God- I am pleasing in Jesus. I am to cease from doing ministry to meet my own needs and to gain my own value; God is to be my source and He values me. I am to stop the unrelenting pursuit of knowledge I try to possess; God is full of wisdom and that is good enough. I am to lay down my goals and objectives and live in Him.
The more active part of my abiding is to ask God to do what I think needs doing. I am to be receptive to Him about what He is doing around me. I am to join Him in what He is doing. I make myself available to people whom the Spirit of God is breaking of their self-centered lives. I offer to them this life in Him. I offer to God my gratitude for this gift of His work.
While I believe the truth of this walk in the Spirit, I am only barely learning to walk in it. My hope is that God will finish what He has begun in me.
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