Singles who live the Spirit controlled life have a remarkable advantage over those who do not.
And even though we know that's true, we still dread making the leap. Our sinful nature refuses to give up control. We want to be in charge. We want to make the decisions.
In a nutshell, we simply don't trust God.
When I was much younger, I had the bizarre fear that if I gave up control of my life to God, he would make me a missionary and send me to an African country where bad people were lopping off missionaries' heads with machetes.
Don't laugh. You're also afraid to let God be in control, even if your fear isn't as dumb as mine was.
So what can we do about it? How can we overcome our fears and selfishness and hand the steering wheel of our life over to God?
I like to be in control of my life. I suspect you do too. It's a natural human tendency. Selfishness, or getting our own way, is part of our sinful nature.
It's important to know that our sinful nature is something we inherited as a species and something we'll never lose in this life. It stays with us until we take our last breath. When we get to heaven, we leave our sinful nature behind and will never take it up again. We are perfected in heaven thanks to the grace of Jesus, not anything we've done here.
Yes, it's true believers are in the constant process of sanctification, and that's where the Spirit controlled life comes in. The more we surrender control to the Holy Spirit, the faster our sanctification moves.
But what does that mean? How do we, as singles who have a bent toward selfishness, overcome that fault?
The Holy Spirit helps us. He not only encourages us to trust God the Father, but he also helps us hand over the steering wheel then advises us in making right decisions once we do.
The Christian life must be a Spirit controlled life, or it's just more of our selfish attempts to do things our own way.
My first mistake in seeking the Spirit controlled life—so you'll understand and avoid this mistake yourself—was that I looked at God not as the all-powerful, all-wise Rule of the Universe but the same way I looked at my fellow human beings.
I had been let down by so many people I became cynical, and when you're cynical, you can't trust completely.
When you don't trust completely, you hedge your bets. That is, you have a Plan B and Plan C and so on in case Plan A (trusting God) doesn't work out.
Now keep in mind it's not a bad idea to have contingency plans in case things start to go sideways. Also, we shouldn't rely on God for things we can do ourselves. God gave us intelligence and abilities so we can use them.
The big danger is trusting God completely for something that is not his will. If you spent all your savings on lottery tickets because you believed it's God's will that you win the lottery (because you'd be so generous with it), you're in for a rude awakening. That might be an extreme example, but we often put all our eggs in one basket on something that God doesn't even desire for us.
Is it God's will for you that you get a particular job, marry a specific person, or buy a specific house? I believe there are only two things you can definitely say are God's will for you: first, your salvation, and second, conforming your character to that of his Son, Jesus Christ.
That simplifies life. A lot.
The Spirit controlled life is the opposite of the Prosperity Gospel. It's about giving up greed and selfishness and serving God and others.
God gave every human being a conscience. The difference among us is that some people, like psychopaths, are able to completely ignore their conscience.
Still, a conscience alone is not enough. We can obey the Word of God only to the extent that we know the Word of God. That's why every pastor will tell you it's crucial to read the Bible. An unread Bible does you no good.
"The Holy Spirit doesn't shout at us. His promptings are very subtle."
I have a poor memory. It has been bad since I was in high school—and that was more than 50 years ago. As I get older, it gets worse, not better. Even so, while I can't quote you a bucketful of Bible verses, my heart knows what the Word of God says. I can quote the Ten Commandments. Having the Bible firmly lodged in my heart and subconscious helps me, along with the promptings of the Holy Spirit, to make God-honoring choices.
You know this in your own life. You may not be able to quote a specific Bible verse for every situation, but your general knowledge of God's ways helps you tell the difference between right and wrong.
In my own life, and in yours too, the Holy Spirit doesn't shout at us. In the Spirit controlled life, his promptings are very subtle, but sometimes, if there's serious danger, they can be extremely intense. I'm sure you've also had the experience of a silent voice urging you, "Don't do that!"
Just as psychopaths can ignore the voice of their conscience, believers can ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit. We still have a sinful nature. We can choose wrong, even when we know it's wrong.
We obey God because it's how we show our love for him. We don't obey because we think our obedience can earn us salvation. Jesus already paid that debt on the cross. Case closed.
As we walk with God through obedience, obedience becomes easier. Sin is pleasurable, no doubt, but it grieves the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I don't take credit for my obedience; the Holy Spirit works through me.
As we obey, we become saints, not zombies. God continues to give us freedom to choose. I have found in my own life that I'm happier when I obey God than when I disobey him. Guilt over sin is a good thing. It leads us to confess and repent so God can restore our close relationship.
Satan and the world would have us believe we can only enjoy life to the fullest by doing our own thing, by doing whatever feels good. Sadly, many of the activities the world promotes are sinful.
And you know what? Satan and the world don't care about us. Satan actively seeks our destruction and the world just mumbles "Too bad" when a person crashes and burns.
God, on the other loves you and me passionately. He wants the best for us, which is eternity with him in heaven. We Christians have more than our share of troubles. Obeying God doesn't spare us from pain. I found that out the hard way over a lifetime of disappointments.
And yet, I'm more convinced than ever that obeying God by following the promptings of the Holy Spirit is the wisest way to go. I hope you'll see this too. Our suffering here is just an eyeblink compared to the incredible eternity we'll have with Jesus.
The Spirit controlled life is not a burden. It's a gift God gives believers to keep us close to him. God lives inside you. He wants to direct your path.
Attune your mind to hear him and you'll never regret it.
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