Daily Devotional for Thursday January 10, 2008
The Flesh vs. The Spirit
(Psalms 51:11; Galatians 5:16-25)
"Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me." - (Psalms 51:11)
I believe in my heart that this word today is going to help many who read it stop struggling through life and start sailing through life! This message today is literally the difference between living in defeat and living victoriously. It is the classic battle of the flesh versus the Spirit, a battle that is impossible to win without Christ in your heart and His strength to see you through. It is sadly a battle too many Christians are losing each day, however, I am going to help you focus on this spiritual war we all fight and give you the key to insure you aren't living your life in the flesh but in the Spirit.
On the day of Pentecost, the "promise," the Holy Spirit of God fell and began to indwell men. From that moment on, every person who comes to know Christ as their Savior by faith receives the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is the power of God that resides in a Believer and enables men to do great things for God. The Holy Spirit is our guide throughout life, showing us where to go, what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. It is that presence of the Almighty that we must yield to afresh each day so that we are living our life "in the Spirit" and not "in the flesh."
For those who know the Lord, there is nothing more comforting (the Holy Spirit is often referred to as "the Comforter") or reassuring than knowing that the very presence of God is within you. It is the Holy Spirit that transforms mere men into powerful men of God. The Holy Spirit is what gives men the boldness to proclaim His Truth to a world that rejects that Truth. The Holy Spirit is what gives men the confidence to stand in the midst of an unbelieving world and declare that Jesus truly is "the way, the truth, and the life, and that nobody comes to the Father except thru Him." It is the Holy Sprit that empowers men to literally give their own life for their faith in Christ.
When David cried out to the Lord for forgiveness in the powerful 51st Psalm, he begged God not to take the Holy Sprit from him. David knew that without the power of God in his life, he was nothing but a mere man of flesh and blood and that was all. It was the power of God that enabled him to be more than just a king, but an instrument of God to lead his people. Like David, when we sin and grieve the Holy Spirit we should be driven to our knees asking God to forgive us and cleanse us of our unrighteousness. Our sin hurts our relationship with God and neutralizes the power of the Holy Spirit, since for the Holy Sprit to be effective in our life we must yield to it, not rebel against it.
Today, I know many people reading this are simply struggling just to get through the day. God promised His children a life of abundance. That doesn't mean everything will go perfect, or that we won't have to face trials and tribulations along the way. What it does mean is that by fulfilling our purpose in serving and glorifying Him, we can know His peace and joy despite the challenges of living in this fallen and sin-filled world. Even in the midst of facing life's problems we don't have to struggle, but can live our life in victory. That is what I want to help you do today. I want to give you the key to not struggle through each day but sail through each day, and that is only possible by living in the Sprit and not the flesh.
(Note: This gets really good, so please pay attention. I am believing God that this special word is going to lead to a huge breakthrough in many lives today!)
Let me start by giving you a perfect contemporary example of what I am talking about. Back in the early '90s, God raised up by His Spirit a life-changing movement that is called Promise Keepers. Through PK, tens of thousands of men worldwide have come to faith in Christ, millions of men have had their relationship with the Lord rekindled, tens of thousands of pastors have been impacted, something that could only happen by a sovereign move of God. There was a basic organization and structure, but for the most part it was simply a raw move of God's Spirit in the hearts and lives of men across this nation and around the world.
In the late '90s, due to its incredible success, Promise Keepers was transformed into this huge operation that took on a typical business model with district offices and representatives, a huge operations staff in Colorado, specialized people in every area, organizational flow charts, everything you would associate with a Fortune 500 company. Now please don't misunderstand me, God calls us to be organized. We have to have some sort of structure just to operate. However, the classic trap Promise Keepers fell into is that they organized the Holy Sprit right out of the picture! At some delicate point, Promise Keepers went from being a sovereign move of God to a work of man, from being Spirit-led to being flesh-led.
PK is such a great example of what I am trying to share with you today because it still exists and still does a great work for God. Men are still being saved, lives are still being transformed, but it is no longer the Sprit-driven force it was in the beginning. It is now this very structured, polished, organized entity that has become part of the Christian landscape, doing God's work but operating at a fraction of the effectiveness it once did. It is now more of a work of the flesh than of the Sprit. That is the point I am making. When we are being led by the arm of flesh instead of the arm of God, even when we love and serve God we rarely experience the raw power of the Holy Spirit since that is only possible when it is 100% HIM and none of US.
This is the same problem so many of our mainline churches experience today. Once great and powerful moves of God's Holy Sprit, most have now become institutionalized monuments where everyone is welcome EXCEPT God's Sprit! Churches that decades ago preached the uncompromised Truth of God's Word, now openly accept, endorse, and condone sins like homosexuality and killing babies. Churches that were born out of the commitment of great men led by God's Holy Sprit, are now led by men who know the name of Jesus but some don't even have a personal relationship with Him. Most of our mainline denominations are classic examples of what I am talking about today in regard to being a move of the flesh as opposed to a move of the Sprit.
This is also exactly where the VAST MAJORITY of Christians are at in their life today. Their lives are led by the flesh and not the Spirit. They struggle because they operate in the flesh and not the Spirit. Life is hard because they are living in their strength and not His strength. They can't get victory in their life because they are trusting in their self and not in God. This word today can literally transform your life if you will hear it. As long as you continue to operate in the flesh you will continue to live without the power that is available to you through the Holy Spirit. You will be like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, having the power of the ruby slippers but never using it.
A popular term in sports is "safe is death." It simply means if you play safe, if you play not to lose, you will lose. You have to play to win. You have to give it everything you have and not hold anything back. Life is the same my friend. Only instead of "safe is death," "flesh is death!" If you live your life in the flesh you can never win. You need to yield to the Holy Sprit and allow God to control your life. You need to get up each day, treat each day like the gift from God it is and give it everything that you have. You will never see victory in your life if you are operating in the flesh instead of the Spirit. Everyone wants to win, but the only ones who do are those who yield their life completely to the Holy Spirit. You will never win in the flesh, and you can't lose in the Sprit!!!
I love you and care about you so much. I know the difference in many of you seeing your life change from one of constant struggles to constant victories is to stop living in your flesh and start living in His Spirit. You do that by making the conscious choice each day as you wake up to trust God with your life that day. You make the conscious decision that you will seek after HIS will and not your will. You give your life afresh to Him as you begin your day. You tell God that your life belongs to Him and to use you for His glory this day. This is not something that you do once at an altar and never do again. It is something that we have to do at the start of each and every day. The difference in a life of struggles and a life of victories is whether you are living in the flesh or in the Spirit.
I will be praying for you today. Praying that you will hear this message and apply it to your life. You have to practice at trusting God. Satan will tell you that you can do it on your own, that you only need God for the "big things." LIAR! YOU NEED GOD IN ALL THINGS! The goal is to be yielded to His Spirit literally 24/7 so that it is not you, but Him. Yield yourself to the Spirit of the living God that resides within you, let the Holy Spirit have His perfect way with you, and you will know the true peace, the true joy, and the true abundance God has promised you in His Word. You can struggle through this life operating in your flesh, or you can sail through life operating in the Spirit.