Acts of Flesh vs. Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5)
“Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer inCR Principle 7.
order to know God and His will for my life and gain the power to follow His will.”
Many have asked: “Where’s the symmetrical scriptural anchor?” Each of the other 8 Principles in CR are tied to a Beatitude. CR Expositors direct us to:
Step 10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (Or, in NKJV…)
“Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (NKJV)1 Corinthians 10:12
“Thinks he stands?” It’s important to notice that the very perception of standing on my own is a glaring thinking error. The notion we need to expose is that I have to “take heed” – I have to DO SOMETHING – to prevent me from falling from my stance.
“I have to do something about my situation” is a work of ones flesh, anchored in a willful sense of personal power. But I surrendered to Jesus. I have no power of my own. It’s pride sneaking in. And that comes before a fall. Humbly, I serve … or I can’t serve at all.
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?”2 Cor. 13:15
“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”2 Pt. 1:10-11
Do what things?!!
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.Peter 1:3-9
So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.1 Cor. 11:28-31
Were we ever worthy of the Body and Blood of Christ?
“So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”Luke 17:10
A moral inventory accounts for things I do. Prisons and Parole boards are interested in moral reform. “Criminal things prisoners do.” “Just stop it.” So that they don’t relapse and return to custody. This is how the “System” measures success. However, they have no authority over – or actual interest in – spiritual matters
We all know what it means to white-knuckle in recovery, I hope. I no longer drink, but man it’s all I want and I can’t stop thinking about it. The problem is: I haven’t experienced the “renewal of my mind.” If I have the mind of Christ, I think of Christian matters. I am an enemy of the world. Drinks are far from my mind, behind enemy lines.
Most inventories are full of “who, what, where when and how.” It’s easier to focus on what I did. Than who I am. We state what we’re in recovery from and what we struggle with now. These are most often objective states of being. (drugs, sex, codependency…)
But a spiritual inventory shines a light in my darkest corners. It’s not about what I’ve done, it’s about who I am now. When I examine myself I illuminate my most corrupt defects of character. Like what? Greed, envy, wrath (hatred), lust, gluttony, sloth, pride. How about sloth?
Sloth? When was the last time I failed to act for the Kingdom of God on something I should have. Have I ever confessed to the Lord “I shoulda, woulda, coulda…” Is there anything I’ve been shown, asked to do, or a door that opened – that I wouldn’t enter, or hesitated over?
Congratulations. You’re human. This is why we celebrate the remembrance of Christ with the bread and the cup. We remember his glory and that we are “Still, just unworthy servants.”
“For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”1 Peter: 1:9
It’s a relief to know that I can possess the qualities of Christ, but it’s by His strength I stand. Never my own. I don’t possess that power. It flows to me through my relationship with Him.
Another warning comes from Paul and interestingly! He gives it in his “Fruit of the Spirit” dialogue. (Wouldn’t the presence of the fruit of the spirit in our lives be one way of evaluating our stance?) He gets at that “mutual affection” thing we read in 1Peter 1.
“If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.Galatians 5:15
One way of evaluating ourselves – is sensing the presence of conflict between Spiritual Brothers and sisters. It’s often said, “lead follow or get out of the way.” This has never been truer. Can we seek to understand where we belong and humbly, simply serve the Lord in that capacity and in the absence of aspiration?
If I don’t want to fall, what I have to do is pursue my relationship with Christ. This is what I do: I gather to myself the attributes and characteristics of His spirit and I fill my mind with the things of the kingdom of God.