Noble values such as independence and hard work have long been a part of western culture and the American dream. I find I easily lose sight of the opportunities available to myself and those who call the U.S their home. Television shows such as ABC’s [Shark Tank] 1 tend to remind me of such wonderful opportunities. The television show often features stories of immigrants who have struggled just to get to the U.S. for the chance to pursue the American dream. These very stories remind me of how blessed I am to call the United States my home.
Too Much of A Good Thing
With all of the opportunities that are afforded Americans, I often find myself taking values such as independence and hard work a little too far. As bizarre as it may sound, too much of a good thing can become harmful. Proverbs 25:16 NLT says, “Do you like honey? Don’t eat too much, or it will make you sick.” I laugh at the idea of eating too much honey, mostly because it reminds me of Winnie-the-Pooh, but I often do just that.
While it might not be honey, I cannot count the number of times I have overdone it at holiday meals. So why should I be surprised that I do the same thing when it comes to working harder. As believers, we are called to live a life dependent on the Holy Spirit. Yet, I continually have to remind myself that I am meant to live my life in relationship with Him.
The Struggle Is Real
When we are pursuing God’s calling on our lives, leaning too much on values such as hard work and independence can often lead us down the wrong path. This wrong path for me is often living according to my flesh or my own power, instead of turning to the Holy Spirit. When things aren’t going the way I expected, it’s almost second nature for me to work harder instead of going to God in prayer. On top of that, I often try to go at it alone. In most cases, the last thing I remember is that I cannot accomplish my God-given calling on my own.
In the previous post titled, An Unlikely Source - Exploring What the Bible Says About Fear, I discussed 2 Timothy 1 in depth. In this post, I shared how fear can be a major obstacle when pursuing God’s calling on our life. I uncovered the truth that a spirit of fear is not from God. I also discussed how believers need the Holy Spirit to live out God’s calling on our lives.
Life Lessons From Paul and Timothy
- Fear can be a major obstacle in pursuit of our calling
- A spirit of fear is not from God
- We need the Holy Spirit to live out God’s calling on our lives.
Flesh VS Spirit
Much like Timothy, we are not meant to pursue God’s calling on our own. As followers of Jesus Christ, not only are we meant to depend on what the Holy Spirit brings such as power or provision, we are meant to live in relationship with the Holy Spirit. We need to embrace the Holy Spirit not only as our helper, but also as our friend and constant companion.
If you spend enough time in Christian circles, you are likely to hear this battle referred to as walking in the flesh versus walking in the Spirit. I realize these are somewhat strange, churchy words, so let me explain.
When we accept Jesus as our Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us (Ephesians 1:13-14). We now have access to the same power which raised Christ from the dead (Romans 8:11 ). We are freed from the power of sin and death (Romans 8:2). We are no longer held captive to our sinful nature (Romans 7:6). Instead, we are to follow the promptings and direction of the Holy Spirit. Our sinful nature is at war with the Spirit living inside of belivers. Galatians 5:17 NLT says "...These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions." The challenge at this point is that most believers do not understand who the Holy Spirit is much less how to walk in the Spirit.
Living In Our Own Power
The sad reality is that many believers live their lives never experiencing the blessings available from a relationship with the Holy Spirit. Believers experience the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit, but go on living as if He does not exist. Upon believing in Jesus as their savior, they acknowledge the Holy Spirit, they experience the saving power of the Holy Spirit at work within them Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV, yet they go on living life on their own. Living life in our own power, according to our own selfish motivation is commonly referred to as living in the flesh.
Believers experience the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit, but go on living as if He does not exist.
In this article, I discussed a bit about what it means to walk in the flesh verses walk in the Holy Spirit. In my next article, I will dive deeper into a common consequence of living in our own power.
“If you find honey, eat just enough— too much of it, and you will vomit.”
Proverbs 25:16 NIV
2 Timothy 1
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
Ephesians 1:13-14 NIV
“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.”
Romans 8:11 NIV
“because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
Romans 8:2 NIV
“But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”
Romans 7:6 NIV
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV
“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.” Galatians 5:17 NLT