Friday 20 September 2013

Galatians 5:24-25 “Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. If we live by the Spirit, let’s also walk by the Spirit.”

Philippe and I were on our way to Martinique to teach the leadership seminar Equip.  One of the other teachers came up to me in the airplane and asked me this question, “Robert, what is the greatest hindrance to growth in your church?”

My answer was simple and rapid, “I am.”

I am neither depressed nor excessively hard on myself.  It is just the simple principle that in this life there is only one thing that you have absolute power to change; and that is yourself.  In every other sphere your influence will be limited.

So, I could ask you a similar question, “What is the greatest hindrance to your personal growth?”

The apostle Paul understood that his greatest challenge wasn’t the unbelieving Jews, nor the pagan Romans.  His greatest challenge was himself.  There were good things he wanted to do, but he didn’t do them.  There were bad things he didn’t want to do, but he did them. (See Romans 7:15)  As Paul grew in the revelation of grace, he learned that an essential element to walking in the life of God’s grace is that you have to die to the desires of your own flesh.

As I acquire more and more experience in ministry I become more and more convinced that we have very few problems with demons.  Yes, there are some who need some very specific deliverance.  But the vast majority of Christians today have simply given far too much liberty to their flesh; and they are reaping the consequences.

Do you belong to Christ?  Then crucify the flesh, along with all its passions and desires.  You want revenge, justice for a perceived offense? Do you excuse what you know are bad attitudes because of what the other person did to you? Do you allow yourself pleasures of the flesh because you think you’ve deserved them? Do you feel insecure, jealous, or envious sometimes? Do you have a short temper, get frustrated with others, or feel misunderstood often?

There is just one message from the Bible for these things: put the flesh to death!

There is a difference being baptized in the Spirit and actually walking by the Spirit.  I’ve seen people pray in tongues one minute, and get angry the next minute.  This one may be living by the Spirit but this is NOT walking by the Spirit.

And, once again, there is only one message from the Bible: put the flesh to death.

Write down the areas of your life where your flesh still influences too often your behavior.  Thank God for His grace to change.  Decide now that you will take hold of God’s strength and grace and you will no longer yeild to the desires of the flesh.  This is what it means to die to the desires of the flesh.

This is not always easy.  There are times I look at myself and think, “How long does it take to die!”

Friend, I have found that as long as God sees that I am battling, and yearning to be more like Jesus, then grace flows unceasing.  It is only once I make peace with my bad habits, bad attitudes and sin, and I begin to excuse it or blame it on others, that I begin to forfeit the grace of God.

There is only one door that leads you through to victory and will give you the kind of lifestyle that not only draws the favor of God but inspires those around you.  And that door leads through the cross.

Yes friend, YOU are your greatest hinderance to personal growth.  Or more correctly we should say that the evil desires of your flesh are your greatest hinderance.  So it is time to put them to death.  And God will restore the soul.

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