Flesh or Spirit

Every day of our lives, in all of life and service, Christians face a crucial ongoing choice. Will we rely upon the resources of the flesh, or upon the work of the Holy Spirit? In the scriptures, flesh refers to the resources of natural humanity. Lives built upon such spiritual bankruptcy will never develop into the spiritual salt and light that the Lord desires. Lives built by the fesh cannot experience the Christ-centered, Christ-honoring testimony that brings glory to God. It takes the work of the Holy Spirit for our lives to be developed into that which is pleasing in God’s sight and useful in His hands.  

 

Walking In The Spirit 

The term “walk” is used dozens of times in the New Testament to describe the manner of life a person is leading. “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh…if we live in the Spirit, let also walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16,25). Walking is a very insightful description of spiritual life. A walk has a beginning and a destination. Our beginning was in a new birth: “born of the Spirit” (John 3:6). Our destination is heaven forever with our Lord and Savior. A good walk is steady and progressive. We are called to be faithful. We are called to press ahead, “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Phil. 3:13-14). 

In addition, a walk has many potential adventures along the way. We are likely to encounter stretching challenges and paradoxical blessings: “in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness… as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things” (2 Corinthians 6:5,10).

Ultimately, a walk must have an available resource that provides sufficient vitality, strength, guidance, and assurance. Day by day, each step of the way, we are to rely upon the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Every issue of life is to be faced in this manner. Otherwise, the influence of our flesh (our natural humanity) will prevail. In ourselves we are not able to overcome the inadequacies and improper tendencies of the flesh. However, the Holy Spirit is more than able to become our sufficient provider of whatever we need for an effective and fruitful walk. 

 

Flesh vs. Spirit 

“For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh” (Gal. 5:17). As believers, the Spirit of God dwells within our lives. He is the Spirit of holiness and He desires that we be partakers of His holiness, and thereby walk in godliness. The natural desires of man are not toward holiness, but rather self-indulgence and self-sufficiency. The Apostle Paul confessed, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24). “I thank God {it is} through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:25). This humble turning from self to Christ allows one to walk in the Spirit, living by His victorious resources.    

 

Set Free By The Spirit 

There is a destructive tendency that resides in every human being. It is “the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). This principle is always pulling people downward into sin and spiritual deadness. God’s remedy is a higher, more powerful principle of “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:2) that has made us free from the law of sin and death. The Holy Spirit makes the life that is in Christ Jesus our resource for living. This principle is operating in the life of any new creature in Christ who is not walking according to the flesh, but is walking according to the Spirit. This approach to Christian living is the only one that can liberate us from the internal carnal tendencies that influence us all. In fact, this is the only hope of growing in godliness. Our lives can only measure up to the holy will of God when we are walking in the Spirit, because Christ is then being allowed to express His life through us. Jesus was (and is) the only one who could ever walk fully pleasing to the Father. For a victorious Christian life, we need this same life of Jesus living in and through us now, by the working of the Holy Spirit. 

 

Crucial Choice 

The crucial choice that believers in Christ face day by day is between living by the flesh, or living by the Spirit. The difference is facing life by our resources and perspectives or by God’s resources and perspectives. The consequences related to this choice are monumental. “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6). When a believer allows his mind to be set in a carnal direction, he will be thinking about worldly  self-indulgence or religious self-accomplishment. On the other hand, when a follower of Jesus sets his mind on heavenly matters, he will be considering issues of humility (“how much I need the Lord”) or faith (“how great the Lord is”). The works of the flesh will produce all manner of sin as described in Galatians 5:19-21. On the other hand, the fruit of the Spirit produces “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). 

 

Conclusion

The choice between living by the flesh or the Spirit is what all believers face every day of our lives. God offers only two options for every issue of life; namely, “live according to the flesh” or “live according to the Spirit.” The Lord desires us to renounce the natural path of the flesh and the disastrous consequences that it brings, and gladly embrace the supernatural path of the Holy Spirit, which brings the undeserved results of His grace at work in our lives. 

 

 

 

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Day By Day By Grace 

90 Daily Devotions

(Coming February 2018)

 

 

God wants us to know His grace. He wants us to learn about it and experience it in our lives. In these devotionals, Pastor Bob explains that God’s grace is much more than forgiveness and new birth. God’s grace is much more than sufficient to give us abundant life and much more than what is necessary to change our lives.

 

 

More LICM Books

 

 

Knowing God

The #1 priority in your life reveals what motivates you, sustains you, and that for which you are willing to sacrifice all else. Pastor Bob teaches that knowing the Lord should be the highest priority in our lives.
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The Ability of God’s Word

God’s Word is as powerful as when it was first spoken, because His words have behind them all the character and nature of God. Bob Hoekstra points out the ability of God’s word to radically change lives.

 

Letters From Ministry Friends

 

Thankful for LICM Books 

 

Dear LICM, I am an inmate in Texas. Thank you for your books. I find them very helpful in my walk with Jesus Christ and in my Bible studies. I really enjoyed the book, “Knowing God.” I have sent it home to my children that they may be blessed as well. May the Lord bless you and my prayers go out to all that are involved with Living in Christ Ministries.

— Brother in Christ

 

Wonderful Teaching

 

I wanted to thank you all at LICM for making Pastor Bob’s radio program available on Calvary Radio in Indiana. I look forward with great anticipation to hear what wonderful teachings of Pastor Bob I will hear this coming year. I’m always astonished by the glories our Lord is willing to reveal to His children! God bless you all, your families, and all those who make Pastor Bob’s programs available. Have a blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

— Sister in Christ

 

The Highest Priority in Life 

 

Dear Dini, I pray the Lord Jesus Christ to pour out His grace and peace over you, your family, and your ministry. When I read the book “Knowing God” by Bob, I heard the Holy Spirit not only speaking to me, but guiding me through the Scriptures. I love how Bob shows and explains how we must prioritize and leave all behind that we may know Him and the power of His resurrection. Reading this book was like a conversation between the Holy Spirit and my inner man. I am very certain that God was with Pastor Bob and is still using his teaching today. I humbly thank you and your ministry and will be praying for you.

— Brother in Christ

 

Blessed Donors

 

Dear LICM, please find enclosed our donation to the ministry of LICM. Pastor Bob’s teaching has been such an encouragement to us over the years. We have been so blessed by his “Day By Day By Grace” devotional. It continues to teach and encourage us no matter how many times we read it. We always discover a new nugget of God’s truth. May God continue to bless you all as you faithfully serve Him!

— Brother and Sister in Christ