“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.” (Rom 7:6 NIV)
It should be evident that those of us under the influence of the flesh may look particularly bad, or we may look particularly good. And that’s a more difficult thing to see and a more difficult thing from which to turn. But it’s just as fleshly, just as foreign, and just as dangerous. I might appear to be the most faithful church attender in the world, but I might be doing it because I fear God will bless me only if I do, and not at all if I don’t. So, I go…under the influence. I don’t mean to imply that regular church attendance is a bad thing; it isn’t! It’s just that under the influence of the flesh, it becomes the thing. Going to church gets the greater influence—not knowing God. The evidence might include condemning thoughts and feelings toward those who fail to attend as regularly or I might frequently and strongly encourage others to attend as the solution to their lack of blessing, or, perhaps, I take a leadership position on the “Let’s-get-the-church-to-church-on-time-every-Sunday” committee. I’m active, but I’m nevertheless fleshly.
Under the influence, I’m not free to ask and trace out the godly and good reasons for going to church, sowing to the Spirit who might lead me here or there, finding His gifts in me to do this or that, and helping me to live by faith. Instead, I’m captive to what looks right and to what ought to be, and that’s where the flesh is found.
Fleshly activity is not you, but something which influences and drives you—it will become much more evident having read this chapter. Should we now run off and point out each other’s flesh types? Be very careful because the flesh may be motivating you to do that and not the Spirit. It’s not hard to imagine the fun you could have with this new knowledge. That could become as fleshly a lure as anything else—resist the nibble by pausing to offer yourself to the Holy Spirit.
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Gal 5:25-26 NIV)
The flesh is not you, but it would like to provide a way for you to look. If you follow its tin lure of promised control, it will behave through you. You know how that will look and feel, and you want to be done with it. Now that you know better, now that you believe life “by the Spirit” is both possible and desirable, chances are good you’ll refuse the bait and go for the Spirit.
(Excerpted from my book, "Better Off Than You Think--God's Astounding Opinion of You"; chapter 7, Hitting My Pause Button.)