Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
This is imminently logical and reasonable, yet so many people refuse to acknowledge it. This is the principle that makes grace so absolutely necessary for each one of us. We all like to please our flesh, and have a tendency to ignore the Holy Spirit. You could say that the whole process of spiritual growth is that of learning to please the Spirit rather than our flesh. (The NIV tries to get away from the idea that everything physical is bad – which can lead to real problems – by translating “flesh” as “sinful nature,” but that can make the whole issue seem more theoretical and harder to understand.) Focusing entirely on the flesh is called hedonism, and many people actually lust after a hedonistic lifestyle. How foolish! Paul writes in just about every one of his letters about the dangers of focusing on the material, rather than focusing on the things of God and using the material things to that end. Jesus Himself talked about how we have physical needs, but the way to have those needs fully met is to focus on the things of God. (Matthew 16:33) Society today is filled with horrible object lessons of those who totally ignore God, and it is sad indeed. For some, the destruction they reap is more obvious and/or immediate than for others, but it is no less certain even when it doesn’t happen in this life. As Paul says, it is a logical impossibility that we could get away with mocking God, and yet so many try.
A: I am not exempt from this principle any more than anyone else is. I too have had to learn to “put to death the misdeeds of the body.” (Romans 8:13) I am sharply aware that apart from the grace of God in Christ Jesus, none of us has any hope. Original Buddhism was totally focused on “putting to death the misdeeds of the body,” but it tried, and tries, to do it by human effort alone. That’s like a surgeon trying to perform surgery on himself while submerged in a septic tank. The only answer is the cross of Christ. “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) One way to describe my task as a pastor is teaching people to walk in the light. As Jesus said famously, people don’t like the light because it makes it clear where they are living to please their flesh. (John 3:20) I am not to be deterred, but keep speaking the truth in love, so that the lies of the devil may be exposed and the truth set people free.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me be fully consistent in sowing to the Spirit, and increasingly effective in helping others do likewise, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!