Don’t Read This Post!
You did it didn’t you. You clicked the link that said not to click it. Maybe it was partly curiosity, maybe it was a simple accident, or maybe this was just your way to “stick it to the man”. Either way you are here and you are reading this, but chances are you have done this kind of thing before.
I did it too.
I hate to admit it, but I was playing a game on my phone a few months back, and there was this ad that popped up and if I would click on it then I could get some more coins to use to upgrade my character in the game, and even though I knew I shouldn’t, I did it anyway. (Don’t judge me, you clicked that link to get here!) Right away I watched a little video for another game, and then I magically got the coins. I thought hey, that really wasn’t so bad, my phone didn’t blow up, it only took about 30 seconds, and now I could finally afford to upgrade my armor. It worked so well that I thought to myself, hey, why not try that again? So I did, I even filled out an online survey and got even more coins and even that was relatively painless. I was doing so good at my game I thought to myself, “why have I waited so long to do this? This is great, this is awesome, this works, this is almost too good to be true!” Except that it wasn’t almost, it truly was too good to be true.
It didn’t start all at once, but sure enough, the SPAM emails started to arrive. I get offers on windows and siding, new razors (as if I shave! HA!), car warranty information, and apparently there are a ton of people in Nigeria that want to give me millions and millions of dollars. At first I tried to just unsubscribe from them all, so I did, but it really didn’t help. It has been months since I last played that game but I am still inundated with junk mail everyday. It is annoying, it wastes time, and it could be a whole lot worse.
I couldn’t tell you how many times I have had the conversation with someone that went something like this: “You know I kind of thought that I shouldn’t do it, but then I said to myself “what could happen?” and so I gave it a try and since my whole world didn’t crash I just kept it up!”
That is how a lot of addicts start their deadly dance with addiction. It’s how almost every affair that tears apart a family begins. It’s how respectable people who you would never have guessed, could end up stealing thousands and thousands of dollars. It’s how innocent pastors who really like kung fu video games end up with an inbox full of useless-time-wasting-junk-email.
It all starts with ignoring one simple sign: STOP!
What is it that gives us that little voice of caution that we wish we would have listened to? Is it some gift akin to Madame Cleo? I don’t think so. Is it self doubt that has been holding you back since you were a child? Perhaps in some cases, but I still say no. Is it some all-powerful cosmic force that is trying to guide you through the trials of life? Bingo.
Let’s talk about the Holy Spirit.
In John 16:13 Jesus is teaching about the Holy Spirit and he says this:
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.
-John 16:13 NLT
That little twinge you felt that told you not to do something that ended up being a big problem? Yeah, that was the Holy Spirit guiding you. Even if you aren’t a believer the Holy Spirit, aka the Hound of Heaven, is still there pointing and directing us to the path that God has for us. And we should be thankful, because without the His work in our lives, we would be helplessly and hopelessly lost.
16 I advise you to obey only the Holy Spirit’s instructions. He will tell you where to go and what to do, and then you won’t always be doing the wrong things your evil nature wants you to. 17 For we naturally love to do evil things that are just the opposite from the things that the Holy Spirit tells us to do; and the good things we want to do when the Spirit has his way with us are just the opposite of our natural desires. These two forces within us are constantly fighting each other to win control over us, and our wishes are never free from their pressures.
-Galatians 5:16-17 TLB
We naturally love to do evil things. Evil being defined broadly could be living life to the exclusion of all but our own self interests. Which if that is the case, is why people can always justify pretty much any behavior, looking at things they shouldn’t, having relationships they shouldn’t, doing things they shouldn’t, clicking on links they shouldn’t, but we justify it primarily because the central focus is on us and our own gratification. Those things that we know we shouldn’t do lose the n’t, and become things we justify, things we SHOULD do. And why wouldn’t we? Verse 17 says it is only natural right?
There are a lot of natural things out there that, if we aren’t careful, could really wreck our lives. (Bears for example) Paul provides a blue print of sinful escalation in Galatians 5. It is a quick and dirty broad description of what happens when we ignore that voice that says, “no, don’t do that.”
19 But when you follow your own wrong inclinations, your lives will produce these evil results: impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, 20 idolatry, spiritism (that is, encouraging the activity of demons), hatred and fighting, jealousy and anger, constant effort to get the best for yourself, complaints and criticisms, the feeling that everyone else is wrong except those in your own little group—and there will be wrong doctrine, 21 envy, murder, drunkenness, wild parties, and all that sort of thing. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
-Galatians 5:19-21 TLB
It always starts small, just a simple little thought, but that thought ignites a desire for more, which leads us to places and practices that we really hope no one finds out about. You get selfish and defensive, and pretty soon you run into conflict, and eventually life gets out of control at best, or as verse 21 says, we get out of God. But this isn’t what God wants for us at all.
22 But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control; and here there is no conflict with Jewish laws.
-Galatians 5:22-23 TLB
That is a list that everyone wants to describe their lives. I don’t care who you are, these are things you want in your life. Paul says that they are the result of living our lives under the control of the Holy Spirit.
It has been said that no one is truly free because freedom is an illusion. That the best we can do is find the bounds that lead us to live the best kind of life and live within them. If that is true, then it seems to me, that the Holy Spirit’s controls are the best, especially if you compare it to the other list.
The life of a Christian is one of freedom IN Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit, where we live the whole of our lives in submission to Him. As Paul says it:
24 Those who belong to Christ have nailed their natural evil desires to his cross and crucified them there.
-Galatians 5:24 TLB
But we do not live in a situation that we are powerless in, we still have to make the choice to lay our lives down, to give in to the temptation or to continue in the Spirit’s leading. And so we learn more and more, day by day, how we need to continue to submit ourselves to the Lord. All the little hidden things that are still a part of our nature that need to be handed over to God, become more and more clear to us because God doesn’t want our half hearted allegiance, he wants us. ALL of us.
25 If we are living now by the Holy Spirit’s power, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.
-Galatians 5:25 TLB
Take some time today to talk with God and see if there is anything that you need to give over to Him.
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