Tag Archives: sinful nature

The GPS Of The Flesh


In one of the episodes of “The Office”, Michael Scott and Dwight were out on sales calls together. Michael was using a GPS navigation system to get where they were going. The device said, “Turn right.” As Michael began to turn right, Dwight asked what he was doing. He said, “I’m turning right.” Dwight frantically said, “You can’t turn right! There’s a pond right there.” Michael said, “But it told me to turn right so I have to.” He then drove the car into the water.

I’m pretty sure almost all of us have used some sort of GPS navigation system by now, whether it’s in our phone or not. When you don’t obey it, the voice comes on, “Rerouting. Make the next legal U-Turn.” If you keep going, it keeps trying to get you to go back. I usually turn it off at that point because it starts to annoy me. I know a better way, but it doesn’t want to see it or give me directions to take it. That GPS system is a lot like our flesh. It wants to direct us and tell us where to go.

If we follow our flesh, we’ll end up in a lake like Michael Scott. Sadly, many of us think we have to do what it says. It leads us down the road of temptation away from God. We know there’s a pond there and we’re going to wreck, but we follow it because we feel we have to. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit is frantically saying, “You can’t turn right! There’s a pond there.” Too many times we end up in the water of sin and have to pay the price, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Just like you don’t have to obey your GPS navigation, you don’t have to obey your flesh.

Romans 8:12 says, “Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do” (NLT). You are free to make your own decisions. The flesh will constantly try to re-rout you and get you to U-Turn, but you have the power to ignore it because you have God’s Holy Spirit in you. When we are Spirit minded, we no longer have to follow the GPS of the flesh, and that leads to an abundant life.

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Daily Declaration

To me, one of the most important declarations in the Bible was made on Joshua 25:15. Joshua, who was the leader of Israel, was reminding the people of all God had done for them. He told them of the blessings that were promised to those who followed God’s ways. He also spoke of the consequences of choosing to disobey His commands. After that he said, “As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord” (NLT).

Joshua couldn’t speak for everyone just because he was their leader. Each person had to make their own decision on how they would live. There’s only two ways really. One is in obedience to God’s ways and the other is disobedience. There’s not a half and half. No one else can choose it for you either. Each one of us have to come to the point in our lives when we declare our independence from our sinful nature and pledge our allegiance to God.

Galatians 5:17 says, “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” Joshua understood this war that goes on in each one of us. He knew that he was susceptible to failing, that’s why he made the declaration.

Today, you and I fight the same battle. Some days we win. Some days we lose. When I lose, I fall back on Romans 8:1-2. It says, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” We have been freed from the power of sin, but not from our sinful nature. We must keep declaring, no matter how bad or how many times we fail, that we will serve the Lord. 

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Open Spaces

  
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. 

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Changing Your Roots

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One of the sayings I have when talking to people is, “Look past the fruit. Look for the root.” What I mean by that is that when we see a behavior in someone else or hear an excuse as to why they can’t do something, that’s not what’s really going on. That is a fruit that is being fed from a root somewhere else. I tell them to dig deeper beyond what lies on the surface if they really want to help them. What I mostly see is people dealing with fruit and they wonder why things keep happening over and over and they’re helpless to stop it.

When we only deal with the fruit, the behavior we see, we can affect change. We have to find the source of that behavior and deal with that if we really want to create change. When I think of sin in my life or in the life of others, it’s usually something we can see. We tell ourselves, “Don’t do that!” It’s a temporary fix, because eventually we go back to it. We took away the fruit, but we never did anything with the root. It just takes a little time and it grows right back. Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? Where is this coming from?” Follow the trail to the root.

Hebrews 12:15 says, “Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” The Message puts it this way, “A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time.” If we don’t deal with the roots of our sins, we will continue to struggle with them and possible corrupt others. If you’ve ever dug in your yard and came across a root, you know this is no easy task. You have to pull on that root. Follow where it goes and chop it off at the source. You have to get the whole thing out.

If we want to change the fruit in our lives, we have to change the roots. In Romans 8, Paul tells us that we have no obligation to do what the flesh wants to do. In verse 5 he tells us not to be dominated by our sinful nature, but to let the Holy Spirit control our thinking. When we’ve pulled up the roots of our sinful nature and let the Holy Spirit take roots in our lives, Galatians 5:22 says the Holy Spirit will produce this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. That is the fruit that we should be producing as Christians.

If you’re looking at the fruit of your life and want to change it, don’t keep dealing with the fruit. Look for the root and deal with that. Romans 8 has a lot of good stuff to say about the struggle we all face in wanting to do good, but having trouble with it. Take time to read that chapter today. See of you can relate to Paul’s struggle. I know I do. The way he tells us to change the fruit in our lives is to uproot the sinful nature that controls our mind and then to submit our minds to the Holy Spirit. Once we learn to do that, we can produce the fruit God wants us to show in our lives.

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