Within us is an ever raging battle…sometimes with one side winning, sometimes with the other. The battle is between our flesh and the Holy Spirit. It was fine before we were Christians…there was no need for any kind of battle…we just did what we wanted. But now that we live by the promptings of the Holy Spirit within, the conflict has started. What do you have your mind set on? It tells us in this verse that you’re either devoted to your corrupt sinful nature…or you’re mindful of the Holy Spirit. So how can we change this cycle? It says in Galatians 5:16, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Living by the Spirit is listening carefully, reacting immediately, and obeying promptly.
All of us do it…we daydream. Pleasant fantasies that transport us from the drab and boring into over the top imaginings. But if we indulge in these musings more and more, they will soon take over our life…for the real world can never compete with fantasy. And it’s here in this verse we’re warned about willful pleasure-seeking thoughts. As humans living in a sinful world – ungodly thoughts are going to drop into our minds…thoughts that can even shock and embarrass us. Like, “Where did THAT come from?!!) But it’s at that moment we have to take captive that thought and make it obedient to Christ. (II Corinthians 10:5) For if we give in and allow these thoughts to have their way in our mind…our vivid daydreams will lead us farther and farther from God into disobedience.
To move towards loving one another…we must move away from false definitions of love and let love be defined by the death of Christ. Human love is selfish…it desires something in return and has strings attached. But if we look at this verse, we see that we had nothing to do with the unconditional love God showed to us by sending Jesus to die for our sins. In fact, it says that God loved us before we even knew anything about Him…while we were still rebelling against anything Godly, it says, He still loved us. So to love one another as Christ loved us, our love must be as limitless and absolute as His…as selfless and merciful as the Cross.
In this passage God is doing away with this well-known proverb and giving His people a new one. For in the next verse He exclaims, “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For every living soul belongs to Me, the father as well as the son – both alike belong to Me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.” Here God gives us a declaration of individual responsibility for our sins…for only us are accountable for our sins…and some day, we will be the only person that will answer for them.
In the “politically correct” environment we live in it’s far too easy to condone and excuse away sin. We’d rather look away or justify than confront. But confrontation is exactly what this Scripture talks about. We are to love the sinner, but hate the sin…we are to challenge with love and mercy, but also make absolutely plain the consequences to come.
I find it fascinating how people rationalize and marginalize their sins away. We’ll blame everyone else in order not to place the guilt where it belongs…on ourselves. “The devil made me do it!” doesn’t stand up well in light of such scriptures as Hebrews 4:15 which states that Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Taking ownership of our sins is the first step to getting right with God…as is conceding that a sin is a sin – there is no scale from 1-10 of severity of sins…so there’s no difference between a “little white lie” and a serious sin…both are missing the mark.
From the beginning of time, man has attempted to remove the shame and guilt of sin. The Priests would offer the same sacrifices day after day, over and over again…but the humiliation would remain. No matter how many times an animal sacrifice was laid at the altar…it was never good enough. That’s because it’s only the blood of Jesus Christ that can take away, once for all, your sins and the guilt and shame that harass you. When Jesus died on the Cross for you, He took upon Himself your sins, and made a way to our Heavenly Father…that you might experience peace. If there’s no happiness or peace in your inner self today…maybe you should consider asking Jesus into your life.