Even though Christians are forgiven of their sin they still struggle daily with the indwelling sin that remains in them and will remain in them until the Lord returns. This is why Colossians 3:5 calls us to “put to death therefore what is earthly in you.” Christians are called to not tolerate or put up with sin but instead make war against it every single day through the help of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:13).
One of the places we see this ongoing battle with exemplified is in Romans 7:7-25 when Paul shares his own struggle in this area. Some interpreters have taught that this text refers to Paul’s life before coming to faith in Christ but a careful reading of the text seems to reveal this is referring to Paul’s present life as a follower of Jesus. There are a few things he mentions in his fight against sin that are true of every Christian and those are what I want to highlight in this post. Christians will struggle with sin but there are some characteristics that will always be present in their war against sin.
A desire to practice righteousness. Every Christian will have a deep desire through the work of the Spirit to obey God. Part of the regenerating and saving work of Jesus is to put in us a heart that longs to practice righteousness in our lives. So no matter how strong the battle against sin is in the Christian’s life there will always be a abiding desire to obey their Lord. Through this passage you can sense Paul’s desire to do what’s right even though he says he often fails to do it. He highlights that desire in verse 18 when he says, “For I have the desire to do what is right…” That’s a mark of a true Christian in the ongoing fight against sin. It was true in Paul’s life and will be true in ours as we follow our Lord while making war with the sin that remains within us.
Delight in God. This is closely tied to the point above but Christians will delight in God. That means delighting in His presence, delighting in His commands, and delighting in our growing relationship with Him. When Christians find themselves consumed with sin and delighting in things of the world they will be unsettled. They will sense the conviction of the Spirit and will be uncomfortable. A true Christian will be miserable the longer they walk in disobedience to their Lord. They have been given a heart that delights in God and delighting in anything else doesn’t cut it. Paul mentions this in verse 22 when he says, “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being.” He goes on to say that even still he sees the sin that remains in him that is constantly pulling him away from delighting in God. However, when Christians find themselves delighting in anything other than their Lord there will be a sense of conviction. There will at times also be correction from the Lord as we see mentioned in Hebrews 12:5-11.
Inner battle between the flesh and the Spirit. This is where all the stuff explained above comes together. The Christian has two natures abiding within them and those two natures are at constant war. There is the new man and the old man and they are going at it daily to gain ground in our hearts and lives. The presence of this conflict is not a sign that someone isn’t a Christian. In fact, it’s completely opposite because this conflict actually indicates someone is a Christian. If someone wasn’t a Christian this conflict wouldn’t be present. It’s precisely because they have a new nature that there is an inner war happening every single day. If you read through this passage you see this battle between the flesh and the Spirit happening in Paul’s life. Christians throughout history have had and will continue to have this conflict going on within them.
The good news for Christians is this battle with sin is only temporary. There is coming a day when our sin will be completely done away with. Until then we keep fighting and along with Paul we proclaim “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (v. 24-25).
Many Christians go through their lives never truly experiencing the Holy Spirit. Maybe it’s due to lack of understanding of the Spirit or an over correction in response to more of the “charismatic types” of Christians. Either way, many Christians, who do indeed possess the Holy Spirit, go through their daily routines that look very similar to those around them who are non-Christians who do not possess the same Spirit.
Jared Wilson, in his book Supernatural Power for Everyday People,” helps Christians understand how everyday followers of Jesus can experience the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. Wilson helps the reader see how the Spirit is at work in every aspect of the Christian’s life. The Spirit is working in everything from convicting us, helping us in our spiritual disciplines, comforting us during hard times, gifting us with spiritual gifts, and much more.
I’m a huge fan of Wilson’s books and once again this one didn’t disappoint. I really enjoyed reading a book that was on the topic of the Holy Spirit but was not a “Systemic Theology” type of book. Wilson dives into the topic of the Holy Spirit in a way that’s easy for the reader to understand no matter their theological background or experience. This book reminds me much of Francis Chan’s book Forgotten God as it calls Christians to a similar thing – living their lives saturated with the Holy Spirit. He’s not some mystical, third being of the Trinity that we can’t experience. He’s quite the opposite really. He is God’s presence with us always. Wilson wants Christians to not miss out on this amazing truth as they go about their lives.
Two parts of this book really stood out to me. First, the chapters on Bible reading and prayer. In these two chapters Wilson helps Christians see how the Spirit aids in these two important spiritual disciplines. He includes some very practical tips as well in regards to practicing these disciplines. Second, the chapter on spiritual gifts. In this chapter Wilson gives a quick overview of spiritual gifts and then argues his case for why the “sign gifts” should not be seen as gifts that have ceased but instead of relevant to the church today. He gives three very compelling arguments for his stance: experiential, historical, and Biblical.
I’d encourage any Christian who feels like they are in a rut and not experiencing God’s working in their lives to pick up this book and give it a read. It will help them see that God, through His Spirit, is indeed working and wants to help you experience His power as you go through your live as a follower of Christ.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers.
In Galatians 5:16, Paul says, “…walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Paul expresses the same idea in Romans 8:4 when he says, “…who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Over the years I have read these verses and so many others that deal with the idea of walking or living in the Spirit. I have even done my best at applying these verses, but I don’t believe I have really ever understood what it means to walk in the Spirit until I recently read Walking in the Spirit by Kenneth Berding.
I got this little book free for when I signed up to be an Impact member with Crossway. The Impact membership allows you to pick three free books when you make a purchase on Crossway. Once a member, you have the opportunity to pick your three free books throughout a year. You also get discounted prices on other Crossway books. When you become an Impact member you pick what you want your yearly fee to be. Also, when you order from Crossway, 5% of your spending goes to a ministry of your choice. It’s a neat program that is worth checking out!
Back to the book. Walking in the Spirit was one of the best Christian living type books I have ever read! Other than the Bible, this is one of those books that made a huge impact on my spiritual life. The principles and thoughts shared from Berding in this book helped me learn what it means and looks like to walk in the Spirit. This book will defiantly help you learn how to walk in the Spirit practically and how to instruct others to walk in the Spirit. I would encourage pastors, teachers, and anyone who teaches to Bible to read this book so you can better understand Paul’s idea of walking in the Spirit.
In Walking in the Spirit, Berding basically lays out what it means to walk in the Spirit. He opens up the book with a chapter that lays a foundation of what it means to walk in the Spirit. For the rest of the book each chapter gives a principle that when its applied you will be walking in the Spirit. Each chapter, or principle, builds off the one before and once all the principles are put together you see what it means to truly walk in the Spirit. These are the principles:
Set your mind on the things of the Spirit
Put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit
Be led by the Spirit
Know the fatherhood of God by the Spirit
Hope in the Spirit
Pray in the Spirit
Each chapter ends with a few review questions which makes this a great book for small groups or even a teaching series. Also, the end of the book has a few appendixes that will help you dig dipper into this idea and help you apply what you learned. Again, this is a book that is worth putting on your reading list and reading sometime.
Click here to order a copy of Walking in the Spirit from Amazon for a great price! Kenneth Berding is professor of New Testament at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University and has wrote several books.
Over the past month God has let me see a few things that have really opened up my eyes to the idea of intentional living. First, I saw a lady give a homeless man on the corner a large drink from Mcdonalds. This may not seem like much, but in a society where we, especially Christians, do not like giving to the homeless man on the corner because they “might but beer or cigarettes” this was eye opening. The lady must have intentionally bought a drink at Mcdonalds to give it to the homeless man. I will spend more time talking about that in a later post. There as been many other things God has let me see that have helped my grasp this idea of intentional living, but the biggest one was a few statements I read in C.J. Mahaneys book Worldliness. If you have read this book you know that each chapter was written by another person and in the chapter on media Craig Cabaniss says, “Glorifying God is an intentional pursuit. We don’t accidentally drift into holiness; rather, we mature gradually and purposefully, one choice at a time. In the Christian walk, we can’t just step onto the right path and figure all is well. Christian discipleship is a lifelong journey consisting of a series of countless steps. Each step maters…” Did you catch that? Glorifying God is an intentional pursuit! If we are going to live the Christian life God calls us to, we must be intentional. There is too many Christians just living life who are “going with the flow.” Those are the Christians who are making no impact on the world around them. If you want to make a difference and as my pastor says, “leave the world differently than you found it” you must live intentionally daily.
If you want to be in shape and be healthy you must exercise. No one who just eats what is in front of them or just sits around all day will be in shape or healthy, but those that are intentional about eating the right foods as well as intentionally going to the gym to excercise will be healthy. It is the same way spiritually. If we want to be healthy spiritually we must be intentional. Paul puts it this way in 1 Timothy 4:7, “…train yourself for godliness.”
I want to share what God has been showing me and teaching me about intentional living so I have decided to post a few blogs specially on this idea. God has really been teaching me this idea of intentionally living for three areas in my life: fighting sin, giving to the needy, and prayer life. Over the next few weeks I will post a blog on being intentional in each of these three areas. Hope they are a blessing and encouragement to you to live an intentional life for God’s glory!