Drawn or Driven

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (Ro 8:5)

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Ga 5:16)

For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Ga 6:8)

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. (1Co 10:6)

I love the Old Testament! And one of the reasons I love it so much is that it is all relevant. It may not be applicable in the same way as it was to those under the Old Covenant who had only the types and shadows rather than the realities that are found in Christ, but it is all applicable to me and to all of us under the wonderful new covenant. In fact Paul in Corinthians goes even further and explains that the ultimate reason for the things that happened to Moses and the people in the wilderness was for warnings and examples to God's new covenant people - they happened as examples for us! The Old Testament is full of wonderfully illustrative stories that serve to instruct those who see it through the light of the New Testament. These examples and warnings help us to avoid evil and grow in faith and obedience.

The eleventh chapter of the book of Number is one of my firm favourites. I have said much on it already in earlier posts (look in my categories under Mediations/Numbers), but it struck me again while I was on holiday that this chapter contains both an example and a warning. We see two parallel stories unfold in the same chapter that serve as a wonderful illustration of the contrast expressed in Galatians 6:8. We read of those who were drawn by the Holy Spirit and came into a new anointing and position of service that benefited the people, and those who were driven by the cravings of the flesh and reaped death.

I don't find anything in the new testament that separates people as "men of the Spirit" or "men of flesh". We are all both! Even Jesus experienced the same temptations of the flesh as we do, yet was without sin. It is not sinful to have desires of the flesh, that's the way God made us. But the problem arises when we don't control them, and they control us. The carnally minded man is the one who is controlled and driven by his self-centered desires. So these are examples to all of us. We deceive ourselves and walk straight into the enemy's trap if we suppose that because we move under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, that we are not still vulnerable to the flesh. Look what happened to King David. No wonder the scriptures tell us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, for none of us are so strong that we cannot stumble if we do not take care.

All of us therefore have a continual choice to make. The choice we made yesterday may help us with our choice today in forming good habits, but it does not mean that we cruise by default into the right decision. We must chose to live by the Spirit, and chose not to live according to the flesh. We must chose to allow ourselves to be drawn by the anointing that God has placed upon our lives, and chose not to give in to the petulant demands of our self-centered desires.

1 comment:

Christopher Alton said...

It is interesting to see Paul says in Galatians (5:17) that the flesh and the Spirit lust after opposite things from each other. Yes, that's right the Spirit "lusts" (NJKV).