HAPPY NEW YEAR, dear ones! God’s richest blessings to all of you.
Typically each new year, I would try to think of a resolution (or more than one) to work on throughout the year. Last year, I wrote about not letting what others think about me, affect me. I’m sad to say that I failed miserably. If I look back over the past year, I can pinpoint certain areas where God was trying to get my attention, and yet, I was too busy pointing fingers at others, so I missed many of His teaching opportunities and glorified myself instead…ugh…
For future notice, however, I’m changing the course. This year, I’m not going to list things I’d like to change. Instead, I’m going to meditate on a passage of Scripture that caught my eye, has resonated in my heart, and has become this year’s newest desire…to follow the one command, and it’s one that I’m pretty sure I can’t screw up…
Second Corinthians 13:5 states the following:
“ Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?”
This statement is clearly a command; to test oneself, and check our genuine faith in Christ. It’s a statement (for those who claim to be Christians) to be aware that it’s very easy to fall back into old ways of thinking and acting. Notice there’s not one hint of comparing oneself to someone else or judging others. We are to simply test ourselves to be sure we haven’t been swayed, that our actions follow His. It’s a self-evaluation of our hearts. That’s it. And honestly, it’s simple.
In the book of Galatians, beginning at chapter five, Paul wrote a letter to the churches in Galatia, mainly to the Gentiles there who were being swayed by others who were pushing legalism. His goal for the letter was to bring the gospel message forefront once again.
At verse 13, Paul addresses the church’s issues with legalism and explains how all believers are free, however freedom isn’t meant to be used for fleshly purposes. Paul wanted the church to understand that the freedom given by Christ was meant to serve each other in the Spirit, not continue to be led by the law.
If you, dear reader, are new to the concept of being a Christian, flesh is defined as human nature and the parts of ourselves that are still vulnerable to Satan and his advances (natural instincts, sinful tendencies, anything that gratifies US literally and emotionally). In the context of Scripture, the flesh is always fighting with the Holy Spirit who comes upon believers at the moment they surrender their lives to Christ.
The Bible says only one of them wins.
If the flesh wins, we give into sin and selfish desires that separate us from God.
If the Holy Spirit wins, flesh is left at the base of the cross, as Christ was crucified, and we give God Lordship of our lives.
The two can coexist, but they are constantly at war.
The command to test ourselves means that we need to constantly be checking our behaviors and attitudes, thoughts and desires, to make sure that they are in line with the Holy Spirit whom we represent. This means DAILY. Here are the differences.
Galatians 5:19-21 states the FLESH problems: “The acts of the flesh 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.“
Clearly the things listed here are direct, listed for our attention and should not be skipped over. Any one of these things is in direct contrast to the will of God in our lives, and separates us from Him. The warning at the end solidifies the destination of those who partake of these behaviors.
On the contrary, the rest of the passage defines the FRUIT of the SPIRIT: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.“
At any time, if we don’t see “fruit” being produced in our own lives by the items listed above, we can be sure that there is a “glitch in the Matrix” so-to-speak, and we need to realign ourselves through repentance and connection with God. It’s that simple.
The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity of God. He is GOD dwelt in us. Believers, though surrendered, are still vulnerable to sin. Because of the blood of Jesus, however, the Holy Spirit comes to rest in us and helps to transform us into the image of Christ. Each day will present new opportunities to follow the legalistic rule of the world, to point fingers and judge, to fulfill a narcissistic way of thinking that glorifies ourselves, but that is not the mark of those who walk with Christ. Only those who have surrendered their lives and are being led by the Holy Spirit will have fruit that is visible to the world around us.
The life of a believer is constantly yielding to the direction of the One who is in us, who is in the process of creating, transforming, changing, revealing and perfecting. We will not be perfect here, but we can learn to be less of ourselves, for the glory of the Lord. We can’t even boast that it’s because of ourselves, because apart from God, we all go back to our old ways.
So, instead of trying to keep a list of things I need to change and trying to work on them this year, I’m going to instead focus on testing myself (yes, just myself).
Am I showing love to everyone, even those who hurt me? Am I aware of the consequences if certain words pass my lips? Do I put others before myself? Am I patient? Do I hold grudges? Am I not listening? All of these things, as small as they might seem, become a slow fade into old Grace, and that’s not who I am any longer. I am redeemed and capable of producing fruit for the glory of God. My new year’s prayer is that you too can walk with the Holy Spirit and shed the flesh that holds you back from being all that you are meant to be in Christ.
This year, instead of focusing on how I’ll fail by February, I’m going to focus on the presence of God in my life. I’m going to self-evaluate my behavior, actions, thoughts, and stay in constant communication with God. I know that He is walking with me daily, and that through my obedience and surrender, He is able to produce fruit that shines into a dark world. To Him be all glory.