The Bible says that the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control. Right? The Bible doesn’t say that these are the fruits of the flesh. The flesh does not give birth to love or joy or peace, or to patience, kindness or goodness. It certainly does not give birth to self-control. The flesh gives birth to death. That’s all it does.
It is so awesome when you receive God, because God frees you from the flesh. A follower of Jesus Christ will still have a flesh mentality at times, but that is not how God sees us. God looks at us and sees children who are holy and righteous. And that is awesome!
If Christians could only realize this! If only you knew that your God sees you as holy and righteous. If you did, you would live a holy and righteous life. That’s what you would do.
But we are so worried about performing. We are so worried about tracking all the do’s and don’ts. And we are so worried that God is going to punish us when we do wrong. We have convinced ourselves that God only smiles on us if we conquer our flesh, and that’s when we get into the room of good intentions.
You read your Bible just to please God. You say to yourself, “I’ve got to read five chapters today, because then God will smile on me and He’ll bless me. And then my day will go the way I want it to.” Then when you don’t have a good day, you think, “Maybe I should have read more. Or maybe I didn’t pray enough today. Why is this bad thing happening to me? I did everything that I was supposed to do. My pastor said I need to read the Bible every day, and he told me to pray without ceasing. I’ve been doing that. I was encouraging to someone today. I always try to say something very encouraging. So why am I having a bad day?”
You try again, and this time you try to do more. But you get the same results. There’s only one way this can go. Eventually, your good intentions implode on you. You get bitter, or angry, or frustrated. You tried so hard to make yourself look so good by not sinning and then all of a sudden, you’re exposed. Everybody looks at you and says, “What? So you’re a Christian? You’re no different than the rest of us. You’re a fake.”
When we get worried about performing, for God and everybody else, we lose our focus on being righteous and holy. We switch our focus to not sinning. We get trapped in sin management! Do you see the irony here? When you try to manage your sin, you actually sin more.
It’s killing us, because it’s exhausting.
But Jesus says, “Hey, how about just accepting that this is who you are. You’re still made of flesh, so you still have your moments, but I look at you and see a person who is righteous and holy.” When you can accept this, you don’t have to get into sin management. You don’t have to manage yourself or anybody else. You’re out of the room of good intentions, and into the room of grace!
More on this next time. See you Thursday.