Spirit vs. Flesh: A Confession…

The other day I wrote a post title Does God Care Where I But Milk?, in which I talked about another article, written by Don Miller, called Does God Have a Specific Plan for Your Life? Probably Not. Before I ever wrote that post, I went back and forth in my mind as to how I felt about it.  Miller’s article implied that if some big miraculous thing doesn’t happen to you, that God probably doesn’t have any big plans for your life (like being the next Billy Graham or something like that).  His premise is that, based on the ratio of people God has used for big things in the past to those who He has not, we have no reason to believe that He is going to use us for big things now or in the future.  I finally decided that I agreed with Miller, and I wrote my post saying so. I wrote that post on Thursday of last week, and it posted around 11:30am.  That night, everything changed…

My wife and I sat down together and prayed for some big things happening in our lives – finding a new home, being the top among them.  We prayed that God would show us whether to rent or buy, and either way, that He would provide for us as we look to pay for either option. And we prayed that He would show us our next home.  That next morning, the power went out in my office – only for a second or so, but enough to completely knock out our networks.  Therefore, I got the rest of the day off.  We were able to schedule a time to look at houses with our real estate agent, and we found the house we just knew was perfect for us.

That night, as we prayed again, I felt convicted for writing that perhaps God doesn’t care about the little, minute details of our lives, and that He instead prefers to just leave those things to play out however we want them to play out.  I believe He showed me that He is just as involved in the little details as He is in the big moments of life, and that just because every person doesn’t become a John the Baptist or Billy Graham or Don Miller, doesn’t mean that God isn’t working in their lives just as much or more. It’s easy to say that God doesn’t care where I buy milk or which color shirt I wear, but that’s not what my experience has shown me, and I can not longer say that God wants me to think this way.

My Bible study today talked about worshiping God in Spirit and in truth. That’s a confusing thing – worshiping in Spirit. In order to understand it, my study took me on a Bible field trip of passages contrasting Spirit with it’s arch-enemy, our flesh, or sinful natures.  Here are some of the passages it brought up:

5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.  9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. — Romans 8:5-10

16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and 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. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. — Galatians 5:16-25

7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature[a]will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. — Galatians 6:7-9

…the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. 10This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; 11yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. 12But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish. — 2 Peter 2:9-12

I again became convicted as I read through these passage. I came to realize that, although my study focused on our times of worship and how we handle these times (specifically, if we are coming before God with a pure and sincere heart), I had thrown God under the bus last week when I wrote that post, and I had relied on my flesh – my own human nature – to make a decision about whether God would be involved in the small details of my life.  So I now confess that I believe wholeheartedly that God can and does work in the smallest details of my life. He hears my prayers and knows my needs before I ask for Him to meet them. And as a father knows how to give good gifts to his children, so does our Heavenly Father know how to give us what we need (Matthew 7:11) – the foremost of which is the Holy Spirit to dwell within us and teach us these things first hand (Luke 11:13).

That said, I still don’t feel that Don Miller was trying to write anything anti-Biblical in his article.  I think he was trying to combat the idea that we need to sit around and wait on God to give us a sign for every small decision we have to make in life. But I took it too far, and I used his words to make me feel better about the fact that I didn’t know the future. I was relying on my flesh to get me through a difficult time, and God wanted me to rely on Him. And that’s okay, because the lesson has been learned…I hope…

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