Have you ever felt that being a Christian is nearly impossible? The constant battle between your old nature and your new nature seemed to be more than you can handle?
The messy work of transformation is complicated at best. As a follower of Christ, we want to live a life set apart from our old lifestyle. So when our old nature rears its ugly head we feel a sense of failure or guilt over our actions. We understand the nature and the end result of sin and have experienced firsthand its effect on our lives.
By God’s grace, He will allow our old nature to come out in order for us to recognize the work that still needs to be done. One thing I have learned as a Christian is failure is not final, it’s inevitable.
Post-salvation, I am going to sin. The difference between pre- and post-salvation sin is my response. Pre-salvation it was simply a part of my life. Post-salvation I fully understand the negative effect of my actions and repent.
“So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live accordingly to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:12, 13
Real life isn’t about indulging in pleasure; it’s being led by the Spirit, putting the deeds of the body to death. This is something only the Holy Spirit can effectually do in our life but He requires our willing participation.
The call to put to death the deeds of the flesh reveals two things.
#1 This is a constant battle for every believer.
#2 Salvation does not eradicate the desires of the flesh.
As long as you are alive you will combat the desires of the flesh. The battle never ends but it becomes easier. If you have ever questioned your salvation because you still struggle with sinful desires, know that this is normal, you’re normal. The key is to no longer indulge those desires but to recognize them and choose to obey God’s word.
It is the Holy Spirit who navigates us through the minefield of temptation and leads us in victorious and successful living. Here are four disciplines that will enhance your ability to be “Spirit-led.”
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,” Hebrews 3:7-8
Obedience is the foundation for being led by the Spirit. Repeated disobedience deafens our ability to hear the Holy Spirit speak to us and lead us. If I feel like I am not hearing God speak to me, I first pray and ask Him to search my heart and reveal any area of my life that is working in opposition to the truth. At the core of any sin is disobedience.
#2 Right Environment
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV)
Bad behavior is contagious. If you are continually surrounded by an environment that is contrary to a holy lifestyle you will find your desire for godliness diminishing. The solution is not to withdraw from society but to “take every thought captive to obey Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:5.
#3 Devotional Life
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” John 6:63
“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:17
A personal devotional life will put you in line with God’s thinking. Having a regular time to study God’s word and pray will enhance our ability to hear and discern what the Holy Spirit is saying. Spend regular time in God’s word and in prayer, His words are life!
The fourth discipline that will better position us to live by the Spirit is;
#4 Kingdom Mindset
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
The world has its own list of priorities and will press us hard to conform to them. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has set eternity in our hearts. There is a deep longing inside each of us that only God can satisfy. Some try to fill it with good deeds, religion, or instant gratification but it’s something only God can satisfy.
When we have a kingdom mindset we avoid being distracted or entangled with the wrong mindset. It’s impossible to live the Christian life apart from being led by the Holy Spirit. If you’re not being led by the Spirit daily then make a decision today to follow His lead. This is where real life begins!