For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. —Romans 8:5-9, KJV
Are you living for God, or for yourself?
When you came to know The Lord, it is because you made a decision to obey Him. You made a decision to submit your will to His will. While uplifting and powerful, it is a life-altering decision. One that doesn’t receive much attention for the difficulty of change it requires. For some, this is easier than for others.
While in your mind you have decided to follow the Lord and to do His will, your flesh may not always agree with your mind. There may be certain things that you do that you are not really ready to give up.
Typically, these are routines, habits or patterns that you are familiar with––ones that seem to be part of who you are but that may not be inline with turning your heart, spirit and body over to the Lord. It could be small habits like ignoring your parents, smoking, gambling, or habitual shopping. It may be more serious habits such as drinking, adultery, lying, stealing, or it could be that your actions and words sometimes hurt those around you.
Oftentimes when we have harmful habits that are selfish or disobey the will of God, it’s easy to become defensive when others point out these flaws. How dare they?
We may feel the need to call others out on their flaws. Which then will lead us to comparing our actions against others. Yet, when we harbor selfish habits, they will always be brought to the surface, whether at church from someone, a coworker or from concerned loved ones. But let’s back up here––you made the decision to follow the Lord. What would He have you do? Would He be happy with your active decisions?
Scripture states that if you do things of the flesh, you are carnally minded, we are all born into sin. When we make a decision to follow the Lord, we are saved, however, our bad habits typically do not disappear overnight.
This is where the work comes in. A smoker has to decide that he wants to be obedient to the Lord and put down the cigarettes. That is the first step––making the conscious decision. Then every time he wants a cigarette, he has to make that decision again, and again, and again, until the desire is gone. With simple habits, it may take a few tries to get the hang of it. However, with severe habits such as smoking, drinking or adultery we can’t always rely on our own will power to save the day.
Luckily we are never alone. Most churches have communities and support groups so that you can put forth a greater effort to follow His way instead of your way.
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. —1 Corinthians 6:12, KJV
When what you are doing is not something that you can stop – now be honest with yourself here – then it is a habit.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. —1 Corinthians 6:19-20, KJV
When we make the decision to follow the Lord, we give ourselves to Him. He paid the price at Calvary, so it is our responsibility to be a person of our word. Following the Lord encompasses submission to His ways.
The next time you want to give into your temptations, remember who you belong to, and the price He paid. Take one-step at a time, and put down that bad habit. Each step will be easier, until you claim victory over the habits that consume you. When you do, there’s no doubt that you be much improved and a greater believer.