About three weeks ago, I was feeling weighed down and discouraged. I was trying to pray, spend time in the Word, react rightly to the people I come into contact with, and begin new spiritual disciplines! I felt bound and tired. It occurred to me that wasn't the purpose of the spiritual disciplines, so I took a break and decided to listen to a couple of sermons on walking in the Spirit to encourage me.
Listening to Mark Driscoll's and John Piper's sermons on Gal 5:16-26 was necessary; it was not encouraging. Ashamedly, I often skim over the works of the flesh when I am reading Galatians 5. However, the definition of sorcery more than caught my attention. Sorcery is defined as doing certain things to provoke certain events or responses from God, which includes the mentality, "I'll pray more, fast more, cry over my sin more, and then God'll move."
I must confess that I am too often guilty of this sin. "I'll spend more time in the Word this week because I am going to need wisdom to deal with that situation" i.e., "I really need the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom so I'd better make sure I'm in His good graces so He'll provide it." UGLY. This thinking operates as though God is capricious and not a God who acts out of His love as a Father. I so often try to "do the right things" in order to gain God's blessings, His favor, His presence, my own desires, or men's approval.
There's a line in Andrew Peterson's I've Got News which says, "So you think I’m not a dirty rotten scoundrel through and through? Lady, I’ve got news for you." This line has been running through my mind all day; no matter what anyone else thinks or sees, it's a true statement for me apart from Christ. And I have been shown the evidence of the flesh still in me in the last two weeks. "As it is written: 'None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one'" (Rom. 3:10-12).
Shouldn't I be free from the slavery of Romans 3? Yes. Why the disconnect then? Because I am trying to gain my sanctification through my own means. Earlier in Galatians, Paul says, "Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3). Did I receive salvation because I could be good enough to please God? No. I received it because I believed in him (Gal. 3:2).
"Does He who supplies the Spirit to you and work miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith--just as 'Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness'?" (Gal. 3:5-6). So, therefore, does He give me His Spirit and work miracles in me because of my works? No; it is because of my belief in Him and His promises. Can I be righteous in His eyes? Yes; only believe Him.
Galatians 5:16 says, "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." I don't want to gratify the desires of the flesh. I want to be led by the Spirit. How do I do this?
Driscoll says, "Love Jesus. Our goal isn't to be good, moral people but to love Jesus. He loves us. He changes us. He call us to love Him and as we do, the sin gets further away."
John Piper says, "...hear the delectable promises of God and trust them, delight in them, rest in them." He went on to say, "The Spirit will work the miracle of renewal in your life when you start meditating on His unspeakable promises day and night and resting in them." (See Rom. 15:13, 2 Pet. 1:4, Isa. 64:4).
Love Jesus. Believe Jesus and His word. That is the way to victory in the Spirit.