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Tag Archives: doing what’s right
I was able to attend a Christian school for junior high and high school. During my freshman year, one of my teachers told us to get our Bibles out and a pen. He had us open them up to Romans 7. We were instructed to read it once, then go back through it with our pen. Each time we read the words, “I, me, my, myself,” etc., we were to circle them. We were then told to read Romans 8. After we read it, go back through it and circle, “Spirit, God, Jesus, Christ,” etc. Once finished, we had to go back and count them in each chapter. There were a lot of circles in my Bible between the two. Towards the end of chapter 7, Paul wrote, “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong” (NLT). He then said he was a wretched, miserable person trying to live like a Christian on his own. He wrapped up that chapter by asking, “Who will free me from this life dominated by sin?” He then answered his own question with Jesus.
Chapter 8 starts off by reminding us that there is no condemnation for those in Christ. I love that he included that because so many times we condemn ourselves because we fall prey to what Paul was talking about in trying to follow Jesus by willpower alone. He then starts writing about the battle between the Holy Spirit and our flesh, and how they’re always at war because they have two different goals. One is to please yourself, and the other wants to please God. He then makes a bold statement saying, “For if you live by its (the flesh’s) dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.” It becomes clear at this point in the chapter that we must learn to let the Spirit lead our lives if we’re going to live how God wants us to. It becomes a matter of who we choose to listen to.
As I read Philippians 2, it talks about us needing to have the mind and attitude of Jesus. He lived a Spirit led life doing what God wanted Him to. After encouraging us to live the way God wants us to, he encourages us in verse 13 with, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” God is at work in you and me, helping us to live Spirit led lives. We don’t have to try to do it on our own. His Holy Spirit resides in us, guides us and works in us to build us up into the people He’s called us to be. If you’re struggling like Paul wrote about at the end of Romans 7, remember that Jesus is working in you to free you from the mindset that you can do it on your own. Let God do His work in your life. Give the Holy Spirit control. Then remember that there is no condemnation for you. There will always be a struggle with your flesh as long as you live in it, but God’s Spirit is in you, working to give you the power to live a life that pleases Him.
Years ago, when I lived in Cairo, I would often go to a man’s home in the desert to ride horses. One of his horses was a beautiful Arabian, and I loved to take her out in the open desert and run her as fast as she could go. Every once in a while, I would come up over a hill and she would see the pyramid of Saqqara. Immediately she would go into a trance like state and start walking towards it. She wouldn’t respond to the bridle pulls I gave her. I usually had to dismount her, pull her, and sometimes whip her with the training stick to pull her out of that trance so we could keep riding.
Since she was little, her owner would take her to the pyramid for tourists to ride her and take photos with her. She was conditioned to go to the pyramids. She was a lot like us. We are born into sin and are often put into a trance like state when we see certain things that call out to that nature in us. The Holy Spirit in us calls to us to tell us it’s wrong. He tries to pull us away, blind us, and does whatever is necessary to get our attention to pull us away from the temptation.
The Lord wants to teach us a better way. He wants to show us how to live and where to go so we can enjoy the freedom of open spaces. He doesn’t want us to live in that hypnotic state controlled by our sinful nature. He wants to set us free to allow us to live the way He intended from the beginning. To do that, we have to listen to what He says and follow Him without having to be pulled away from temptation at whatever cost.
In Psalm 32:8 the LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you” (NLT). He wants to listen to His voice so He can simply teach us where to go in life and how to live. He doesn’t want to have to treat us like that horse. Verse 9 says, “Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” If we are willing to listen, God is giving us freedom to run. If we aren’t, He will use what’s necessary to get us where He wants us to go.
I once walked with a man of integrity. Immediately my own shortcomings were brought to light as I watched him do what was right no matter the cost. The road he walked wasn’t easy. There were few companions who had the courage to walk that path. His faith had been tested in the fire before, and it was as hard as a diamond. As I looked at him, I noticed he didn’t look to the left or to the right. He kept his eyes ahead. He knew where he was going and nothing would entice him from his course.
There were those who came alongside and walked for a while like he did. Some left sooner than others. When you walk with a man of integrity, you have a choice to make. You can change to have more integrity, or you can walk away. When we are in the light, all our flaws are exposed. We can choose to work on our flaws while in the light, or we can turn the light off, pretending the flaws are not there. Either way, when you have been exposed, you know the truth inside.
Because of this, there are many who attack those with integrity. When faced with their own reality, they try to get that person to change. When they realize they can’t make them compromise their integrity, they abandon them and try to discredit them. In the end, I’ve learned that God stands with those who have integrity and He detests those who don’t have it. If that’s how God feels, then I should feel that way too.
Proverbs 10:29 says, “The way of the LORD is a stronghold to those with integrity, but it destroys the wicked” (NLT). In my walk with this man of integrity, I’ve found that strength comes from God, not the opinions of others. When others seek to destroy, those with integrity keep walking to the Lord. They do not waiver. They do not change. They may be beaten, they may be scared, but that’s the price of integrity in a world full of houses built on sand.
Though our paths have split, I learned to be a better person. I learned that it hurts quite often to have integrity. Maybe that’s why so few choose to have it. I also learned that if you remain a man of integrity, the Lord will come to your defense and stand with you while others throw stones. I’ve learned that it is not man’s opinion of me that matters, it’s God’s. I will find my strength in Him while others attack. I will not be moved. I will not look to the side. I’ll keep my eyes on the One who lights my path.