Galatians 5:16-17, “I say then: ‘walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”
Today we continue our ‘how to’ miniseries and as you may have surmised by now we will be discussing how to walk led by the Spirit. It would be easy for me from the get go, to begin discussing the mutual animosity between the Spirit and the flesh, and how they are contrary to one another being mutually exclusive in and of themselves and as such never being able to truly be reconciled unto each other, but since this is a ‘how to’ series, we will be discussing how we can walk led by the Spirit instead.
The admonition is clear, we ought to walk in the Spirit, and by walking in the Spirit we shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. The theory is simple, the practice thereof is a little more complex however, and this is why I decided to discuss this issue today and most likely for the next few days as well.
Generally speaking it has been established, the Bible bears this truth out, that all men walk in one of three ways.
The first of three ways in which men walk is in the flesh. What walking in the flesh entails is walking by, and trusting in one’s own sight, one’s own reason, one’s own logical deductions. One of the greatest tragedies that can occur in the life of a believer is when they attempt to walk in the flesh when it comes to spiritual things.
We see both pastors and churches, evangelists and laymen walk in the flesh on a daily basis. When we take a ministry or a church body and try to reason out how we can grow it in and of ourselves, we are walking in the flesh. This is why some churches send out questionnaires to the people in their neighborhood asking them what they would like to see more of in church, this is why some churches poll their members as to their likes and dislikes concerning either the message or the messenger, because they are attempting perform spiritual duties while simultaneously walk in the flesh.
And so, because we don’t trust God enough to grow our ministries, because we don’t trust God enough to grow our churches, we begin to bend to the will of the lowest common denominator, we begin to cater to those who only want their ears tickled, and who only want to hear smooth things, marginalizing the Word of God, watering down the truth of Scripture until all we’re left with is a building full or a mailing list full of spiritual corpses who far more readily resemble the world than the saints of God they’re supposed to be.
‘But it’s easier this way brother Mike. We have to change with the times. We have biweekly raffles and give away prizes, we have pizza night, movie night, bingo night, concert night, and the ‘congregation’ is growing by leaps and bounds.’
To what end? What is the purpose of growing a congregation if it continues to remain a congregation of unrepentant, worldly minded idolaters whose only reason for coming to the house of God is entertainment, free food or free stuff?
The house of God, and those who are God’s representatives on this earth have but one purpose, and that is to call men to repentance, to elicit true and lasting transformation, and teach people how they can be reconciled unto God. If our purpose is something other than to see souls saved, then though we might call ourselves a church, we are a church in name only, and countless souls are headed for perdition all the while singing ‘it is well with my soul!’
The examples of men and women who chose to walk in the flesh and came to a tragic end are too many to ignore, and the spiritual landscape is littered with their corpses.
Although it might not seem like it at first glance, one of the most glaring examples in the Bible of an individual walking in the flesh is a man by the name of Uzzah the son of Abinadab.
In the book of Second Samuel, King David gathers all the choice men of Israel and prepares to return the ark of God to its rightful place. It was a great day, the ark having been in the possession of the Philistines for seven months, then in the house of Abinadab, now it was ready to come home.
They set the ark on a new cart, and somewhere along the way the oxen stumbled and Uzzah put out his hand and took hold of the ark so it would not fall to the ground.
2 Samuel 6:7, “Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God.”
Through the prism of human reason one would look at what happened to Uzzah and instantly conclude that what God did was a bit excessive. Uzzah was after all just trying to keep the ark from falling to the ground was he not? Killing him there by the ark just seems like overkill does it not? When we look at this entire episode did Uzzah really do anything wrong, and if so, what exactly?
Yes, Uzzah did something wrong, in fact he did a few things wrong. First and foremost he tried to do something the easy way rather than the right way. It was about a six mile journey from where the ark was and where it needed to be delivered, and God had designed it in such a way that it be carried. God had also commanded that a certain family of the Levites would have the privilege of carrying the ark, namely the family of Koath.
Uzzah and the rest of the men that were with him however, had grown comfortable with the presence of the ark, they no longer saw it as a sacred thing, it had after all rested in his father’s house, and they decided they could cut some corners.
‘Surely God wouldn’t mind if we spare ourselves some sweat and achy backs, let’s put the ark on a cart, too far too walk, God will understand.’
The second thing not only Uzzah but all the men that were present did wrong is that they mimicked the Philistines. The Philistines had also transported the ark in a cart, and they thought that if it was good enough for the Philistines surely it would be good enough for the people of God as well.
God holds His own to a higher standard! God had greater expectations of His children than He does of the children of darkness! God has given much to His people and as direct result requires much in return!
As the saying goes, you just expect more from your own children.
‘But these gimmicks are working so well for the world, we would be fools not to try them. Why not use a little psychology, why not infuse a little humanism into our spirituality, why not be less rigid about what we believe, why not be more tolerant of practices we don’t quite agree with?’
Because you belong to God, and because He has a standard, and because not only are His ways not your ways, they certainly aren’t the ways of the world.
We have grown as comfortable with God and the things of God as Uzzah did with the ark that rested in his father’s house for those many years. Because we have grown comfortable with God and the things of God we treat them in a casual manner, with indifference, with irreverence, and we take liberties we ought not to take. God is not the big fuzzy bearded guy up in the sky; He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the creator of all that is seen and unseen, the judge of the living and of the dead.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.