“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
There I have it. That’s the solution to my struggles. It’s so simple that I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t understand it. Well, I sometimes truly don’t understand it. Actually, I do understand it all the time; I just don’t follow it.
So, I’m back to the battle of my diet. I get off track for a couple days, and, wow, do things fall apart fast. I mean, I was actually hungry for fresh vegetables and wholesome food. In what seems like a blink of an eye, I can’t stand the thought of them and crave all that is bad for me. What makes matters worse, I feel myself getting quite belligerent about it. “I want what I want, when I want it, and I want it now!”
What the heck! Then I read my Puritan devotional this morning, and John Gibbon addressed this very problem. Here’s an excerpt pertaining to this verse:
These words present the way of conquering sin. It is the one great strategy against the powers of darkness if we would strangle the brats of night and hell as they seek to give birth. It crushes the egg before it can hatch the serpent. The best expedient in the world to avoid fulfilling the lust of the flesh is to walk in the Spirit. To walk in the Spirit is to fulfil the counsel and advice of the Spirit. Every renewed soul is a stage in which the Spirit and flesh combat in hand-to-hand warfare: light against darkness, life verses death, heaven against hell, and good versus evil. God takes your side, O Christian! (page 81)
Yesterday, John Sheffield had these words to share:
We do daily combat, but God’s election stands firm, his love is unchangeable, and his call without change. Christ keeps his sheep to the end and none shall pluck them out of his hand. How can we keep from falling so we do not crucify afresh the Son of God and tread on his blood? Watch and pray that you do not enter into temptation. Keep your conscience tender and flee the first motion and occasion of sin. Don’t think of sin as a little thing and don’t take mercy for granted. Don’t trust your own strength. Don’t trust in light repentance. True repentance flees further stumblings. Remember that yielding to sin increases its power to rise higher. Every time the bone is broken, the mending is more difficult and the limp more pronounced. (page 80)
If I heed the words of these writers, I see that the bible is indeed describing war within me. It’s not just colorful language used to liven my imagination. No, there is actually something big going on inside of me. No wonder the struggle is so intense! I suspect that the more I resist sin, the more difficulties I will encounter when I fail. Like John Sheffield says, “Every time the bone is broken, the mending is more difficult and the limp more pronounced.”
I have become comfortable with the idea that I have found the exact dosage of alcohol that I can safely consume. That amount is none. As in zero. As it turns out, the medical consensus is finally agreeing that this is the ideal dosage for all of us. None. I’m OK with that. Now, it’s time for me to let this same thinking apply to my diet. There really is no longer any room for garbage food. It simply causes me too much trouble. A little indulgence and I fall completely off track. I want to be a healthy, old man who is able to walk, run, squat, and bend over at will. I want all this to be part of my life, not just a dream. Garbage food makes me limp. If I mess around with it enough, it will eventually immobilize me.
Let me end with the final part of Gibbon’s exhortation – words of encouragement.
Open all your sails to every breath and gale of God’s good Spirit. Welcome every suggestion. Reverence every command. Cherish every gentle persuasion of this blessed exhorter. Let every inspiration find you as the seal does the wax, or as the spark does the tinder. Step into the pool when the angel stirs the water. Keep in touch with the moving of the Spirit, and all will be well.
Thank you, Father.
“Voices from the Past: Puritan Devotional Readings, Volume I” Copyright Richard Rushing 2009, The Banner of Truth Trust Publisher