Trying to do things on our own is how we got into our sinful condition in the first place. Quit trying. Start depending.
(14) Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.
(26) Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.
We were NEVER meant to do this life on our own. Now, with sin rampant, our bodies tainted with the sin nature, and with demons residing and presiding on this planet, we CANNOT do this life on our own! WE NEED HIS SPIRIT! We need Him with us, in us, going ahead of us, coming behind us, walking beside us, and planning for us, talking to us, instructing us, chiding us, encouraging us, and giving us hope.
The Spirit-filled life is spelled out for us in Romans 8:1-17. Let’s look at the New Living Translation:
1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
We no longer fear condemnation. When we hear in our heads/hearts condemning phrases like, “You’ll never measure up,” “You’re a failure,” or, “You’ll always be a disappointment to God,” know that they are from the enemy. God doesn’t condemn; He convicts with words like, “You chose poorly this time; I love you and want the best for you, so listen to me next time and make the better choice. Let’s do this together!”
2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.
People who don’t know Christ do not realize their condition: At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. Titus 3:3 Were it not for the Spirit of Christ coming into our hearts and making us alive spiritually (Eph. 2:5), we would still be dead in our sins and headed to hell even while living hell on earth because of our sinful nature. But when the kindness and love of God [Jesus Christ] appeared [to us in human form-Phil. 2:6-10], 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. We will read something similar to this in a minute.
5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. 8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.
We cannot think like God on our own. We need Him to enlighten us by His Spirit. Likewise, we cannot please God on our own. We need Him to empower us by His Spirit.
9 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) 10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
Relinquishing control to the Spirit is something we must consciously do daily–hourly, even constantly. We rest in the knowledge that He will keep us in this life and beyond death–we will live with Christ in heaven!
12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
The fight inside is our confirmation of our salvation, for the Holy Spirit guides us even as our flesh pulls us in another direction. As children of God, we MUST allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit of God.
15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
The good news: We have been adopted into God’s family and are co-heirs with Jesus Christ (I’m not at all sure what we are inheriting, but I know it’s gonna be good!).
The bad news: We must suffer in this world because of our sinful nature. We struggle each day between doing what the Spirit is leading us to do and what we want to do in the flesh. We suffer the consequences of other people’s bad choices because they either don’t have the Spirit, or because they are not listening to Him. We must weather these bodies as they grow old and die. Growing old is not for the faint of heart!
Paul, who spent time in heaven with Jesus and had the entire Plan laid out before him (see 2 Corinthians 12:1-10), tells us in the next verse:
18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.
This verse is my banner verse. It proclaims that nothing on this earth compares to what is ahead in glory. Let’s keep our “prize” in mind as we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.
Lord, You have so much in store for us. There is so much You want for us now, too. It’s all wrapped up in our relationship with You. Knowledge, insight, and understanding are key to knowing You, knowing what to do next, and knowing what is to come. Help me to lean more and more on Your Spirit for these things. May I revel in our connection, O Lord. “Speak, Lord, Your servant listens (1 Sam. 3:10).” Amen.