Walking in the Spirit - Part 4 (From Hate to Peace)
We Hate What He Hates, Now What?
We learned two core truths in our last study: (1) learning to hate what God hates, and (2) that just hating sin will not make the desires go away.
At this point, it is often stated by various teachers (and rightly so) that we are to "feed the new nature" and "starve the old nature." That is, of course, a wise path. But I would add that we should look to the end of the path: peace and prize.
To get to that peace, we must allow the Lord to convict and discipline us in those areas of weakness in our lives and flesh. This is why constantly being in the Word of God and praying without ceasing is essential. We have a conscience, but it cannot always be trusted. We leave judgment to Christ. Let the scriptures inform our conscience.
God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. -Hebrews 12:10-11
I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. -1 Cor 4:3-4
1. Recognize the envy in your old nature and how it is a "fruit of the flesh" (Gal 5:19).
2. Remember that God hates envying (Gal 5:19-21).
3. Think about the peace that comes with allowing God to convict (Heb 12).
4. Find contentment in thoughts of your eternal, resurrection life to come.
We need to be careful to distinguish "conviction" from "shame." When we fail to walk in the new nature, we allow Satan to send us into shame. Shame drives us from God. It drives us from his word. As we seek to put these truths into practice, we must remember that we may not always be victorious. But as we experience victories, we are strengthened in the new nature. We learn to crave the peace and clear conscience that comes from obedience and living in the "resurrection power" of the new nature. We must learn to "know him and the power of his resurrection!"
The new nature is not subject to death. He is not subject to sin. The principalities and powers have no authority over him. We only experience death, sin, and authority over us when we choose to walk according to the old nature.
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death. -Phil 3:10
Now try applying this starter path to other areas. Do you have a problem with lust? Recognize it is of the old nature. Remember that God hates it. Dwell on the peace of God which will come once the temptation has passed (or the conviction in failure). Do you struggle with addiction? Greed? Gossip? Anger? Selfishness? All these fruits of the flesh can be addressed this way.
Let me again say that this is not an easy path, especially if we have fed and trained and submitted to the old nature over and over. This beast can be very strong. This is why we must accompany the plan with these things:
3. Bible Study
4. Reckoning ourselves dead
5. Removal of Temptations (when possible)
There are two paths about which we need to be aware. If we do not confront the old nature we may sear our conscience against the voice of the Spirit of God. We may also fall into the trap of a false righteousness found in religion and the traditions of men. Outward trappings of religion have often been a disguise for great wickedness.
Wearing a suit, singing hymns or worship songs, outward emotion... can all cover the old nature. But remember where we started: We cannot fool God. We need to be especially aware of these deceptions in these last days.
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. -1 Tim 4:1-3
I must also caution us not to be someone else's Holy Spirit. If we see a brother caught in sin, we are called to handle things privately at first. The Word of God is our tool and is sufficient for teaching, correcting, and training (2 Tim 3:16). We come along side the weak brother. We are not the judge of another man's servant (Rom 14:4), the Word of God is his judge.
We remember our own weaknesses as we seek to help other's bear the burden of theirs. Even in our victories, all glory goes to God who makes such victories possible. We must always be careful to avoid pride. We may find ourselves "condemned" in our pride if we are not careful (1 Tim 3:6).
Next time we take Phil 3:10 to the next level. Let me quote it again and include the next verse:
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [out from among] the dead. -Phil 3:10-11
Eternal life is a free gift fully secured by the Lord and offered as a free gift to anyone who calls on his name and puts his faith in his resurrection. But there is a race to run. We can lose that race and lose rewards. We can find ourselves with nothing to present to our Savior. We can be unprofitable servants. We can find ourselves condemned in regard to our works.
As we noted, Christians can do and do do evil things. We can find our works or our pride "condemned" if we choose to walk according to the lusts of this world. We may even find ourselves enemies of God in this life.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the spirit the things of the spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. -Rom 8:1-8
Let us start to put all these things together: Forsake the things of the world (its lusts and its traditions) and seek a sincere faith that we my walk in the newness of life!
as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. -Romans 6:4
And, of course, it starts with the "whole armor of God" (Ephesians 6)
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints...