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Chapter 14 - Walking as the former owner of our life
As corporations buy up and take over businesses, it is not uncommon to find a former business owner kept on as an employee of the corporation to run his former business. It can be difficult for the new employee to adjust to his subordinate position. His freedom to do whatever he wanted has been replaced with the constraints of someone else.
The Christian life can seem similarly restrictive especially when seen from a legalistic perspective (no smoking, dancing, playing cards, or drinking). However, the Christian who surrenders his life to be led by the Holy Spirit often finds that the financial and health expenses of smoking to be unrewarding, the frantic and loud environment of clubs to be un-inviting, the financial vicissitudes of gambling to be risky, and the need for the stupor inducing effects of alcohol to be no longer felt.
Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; - Ephesians 4:22 AMP
Walking by the Spirit is an eye-opening transformation. As we begin to receive and understand truth, we begin to see how shabby our former lives were. We can see how the inclinations of the flesh actually harm us and the brief pleasurable sensations that are sought not only do not build anything lasting, they often create a more painful future.
And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? - Luke 24:30-32
In addition to the new understanding we have of the undesirability of life in the flesh, we also begin to feel the pull of the desirability of a closer walk with God.
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, - Philippians 3:7-8
When we were distant from God, even if we weren’t given over to a flood of dissipation, we sought to secure our lives, family, property, and future as best we could. The example of Abraham and Isaac is a good one to illustrate the walk of faith in God contrasted with a walk serving ourselves.
And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. ... And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. - Genesis 22:2 & 5
Here we can see that Abraham had confidence that both he and his son would return. This testifies to a faith that places all confidence in the Lord to set the course of our lives. We may not understand why or how things are working out. However, we need not be anxious.
And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. - 2 Thessalonians 3:5
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. - Romans 8:28
We are not in the best position to deicide the destination or even course of our lives.
There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. - Proverbs 16:25
Our lives become much better when we relinquish control to him who died for us and loves us.
A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. - Psalm 23:1-3
The closer we walk with the Lord by his Spirit, the more we come to understand and appreciate his guiding hand. We need to let go of the fears and desires that drove us through life so that we can rest in the peace that trusting in God produces.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. - Matthew 11:28-30
The subject of free will has been debated for centuries. However, it boils down to a choice between the flesh and the Spirit. God has given us a free choice. However, we can see that our choices almost always tend toward selfishness and harm us in the long run. It is this destructive inclination of the flesh that gives the appearance of free will. In reality we are its slaves;
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? - Romans 6:16
It is when we come to faith in Jesus and receive freedom from the compulsive nature of the flesh, that we begin to have actual free will.
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. - 2 Corinthians 3:17
However, it is all too often that we use this freedom to drift back to the flesh and become inert in our Christian life.
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. - Galatians 5:13
Walking by the Spirit entails an almost constant mental assessment of our thoughts words and deeds. We need to employ our minds to identify our motives in the cold light of truth. Our sinful nature wants to reassert itself and retake control of our life. Our old nature seldom presents itself in open rebellion, often it employs subtle and incremental influence. Like the former business owner who comes to start making decisions as if he were back in charge, we can find we have neglected our seeking after the Lord and have begun to chart our own course.
A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps. - Proverbs 16:9
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. - Proverbs 3:6
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