Sunday, 6 November 2011

Me - My enemy

We, as believers in Jesus Christ, have three enemies, the deceiver - Satan (1 Pet 5:8), the world we live in (1 John 2:15-17) and ourselves (Gal 5:17-19).  Before I get into this, I am again reminded that insights are gifts from God. Sometimes others have received the same gift years before. If that's you, hopefully you will enjoy the reminder, or you may just enjoy the fact that I have only just ‘got it’. I like to think that I’m only just getting this because it’s the right time for me to receive it, rather than the other alternative - that I’m a little slow! 

That I am my own enemy was news to me.  I thought I was on my side., Not sure why, as we haven’t always got along so well.  It didn’t take much convincing that I am my own worst enemy. It actually makes a lot of sense, even before reading Galatians 5:17. Let me read it to you now starting from the CEV, “The Spirit and your desires are enemies of each other.” Now I’m moving onto the NIV for the rest of verse 17 “They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”  Bear with me as I  spell things out to myself. If the Spirit of God (who is perfect and pure) is in conflict with my human desires, (which are sinful) then God is right and I am wrong.  Even when I want to be right, I am wrong, because of the influence  my sinful nature and my desires have  over me.  I have to admit, that’s not good news. I’m praying for a ‘however’… or a ‘but’, because that is no way to leave things. 

Good news. There is a ‘but’ … Are you ready.  You will have heard it all before, but I pray your ears will hear  this time from the Spirit himself. That you ‘get it’, whatever ‘it’ is that God really wants to bless you with today.

Paul is writing to the church in Galatia, who are struggling with falling back into the way of Law rather than the way of grace that comes through Jesus Christ.  Paul is telling them in no uncertain words, that they are being fooled.  He states that what he taught them is truth, that it came from God and they are confusing their faith by becoming enslaved to the law again. (Gal 3:1-5).  Why is this so  important?  Because we have three enemies: Satan, the world and our sinful nature.  The Galatians were being persuaded by their world, and believing their sinful nature. They had forgotten what they had been given (Gal 3:2): The Holy Spirit.  “Because you are sons (and daughters), God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts.” (Gal 4:6, NIV).  The Spirit of God is the key to reversing the ‘ doing wrong even when we want to do right” that we talked about before. Galatians 5 continues with the good news for the church in Galatia and for us. Verse 18 “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” 

I have to keep reading, I was going to jump down to verse 22, but then we miss out on the list  of things the  sinful natures produces.    Often times I find it hard to identify my sin, as it can seem innocuous, subtle, and not public.  Try reading out loud and slowly verse 19, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like.  I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
BUT [emphasis mine] the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

There is so much to unpack in there.  I pray the Holy Spirit will touch you with a verse or two that reveals to you something new.

For me, that list is full on, because it’s not just what happens in public but what goes on in private as well.   I guess the thing to remember with sin is that it is giving into an attitude of self.  We know hatred is wrong, but do we tone it down by saying to ourselves, ‘I don’t hate them, I just don’t have time for them’.   We know selfish ambition is wrong yet we can tone it down to ‘I really want to do the best I can, I’m very motivated’. We know discord is wrong, but really ‘I just don’t like them and we can’t get along with everyone’.  We are deceiving ourselves.  Tone it down if you want but the attitude is the same. Sin is sin. Don’t excuse your behaviour by watering it down. I am so good at that. I pray for the Holy Spirit to show me my sin that I may ask for forgiveness and be able to move forward, yet the whole time I am the one trying to hide it by watering it down.   I cannot trust myself. I water down the one thing that through repentance will build a stronger relationship with my Heavenly Father.

BUT, I love a good ‘but’, and boy do we need a good ‘but’ here. Verse 22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”   My Life Application Bible notes “the fruit of the Spirit is the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit in us.”  In us and then through us.  Beth Moore put it wonderfully, “Why fruit? So that others can taste and see that the Lord is good!”  Isn’t it funny in a ‘not at all amusing’ way, how we water down our sin and find it hard to identify it in our own lives, yet the sin of others is written in neon signs! Lord, that we may stop kidding ourselves and see our sin for what it is and repent. Alert us Lord to our deceptive selves.

Our lives bear testimony to the Spirit of God, if we are willing to stop kidding ourselves and realise who our enemies are and what we can do to stop believing the watered down version of life those enemies would want us to believe and live life as it was meant to be lived, in genuine worship and appreciation to our loving Heavenly Father.

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