By: Amy Dalke
I’m not a science person. Which probably goes without saying, but I thought I would make that clear up front lest you have the wrong idea about me. But I do know that in the physical realm, everything can be divided into two categories: Living and Non-Living.
The second (and maybe only other) scientific fact I know is the Law of Biogenesis, which is this: life comes from life. It’s a simple principle that cannot be refuted: non-living things cannot produce living things. For example, a stone cannot produce a tree.
The spiritual realm is governed by a similar principle, which is summed up in 1 John 5:12:
“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
(You’re welcome for this unsolicited elementary science lesson.) I’m sharing this with you, because God recently opened my eyes to what this looks like in the believer’s life.
According to the spiritual principles at work in all creation, it is not possible to experience an abundant, righteous life outside of Jesus Christ. Yet over and over again, we try our hardest to produce goodness through our own human efforts.
No wonder we live such frustrated “Christian” lives. Humanity’s default is death; and unless we live in Christ through faith, we have no capacity within us to produce good works.
Because dead things cannot produce life.
Even still, though our true position as believers is “in Christ”, we won’t automatically live out of our holy position in Him. The Apostle Paul said, “…walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the deeds of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)
The flesh (our human nature) and the Spirit (the source of our life in Christ) are opposing forces. Therefore unless we purposefully submit ourselves to the ways of Jesus (daily, over and over, moment after moment), then we cannot experience the fullness of his life within us.
When we are full of our flesh, we reap the fruit of jealousy, bitterness, impurity, immorality, anger, fear, etc. When we are full of the Spirit, we bear the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Easier said than done. Because our flesh talks a good game. It strives and struggles to maintain an appearance of righteousness; but ultimately, it comes up empty. Thus our flesh leaves us wasted and wanting every single time. When our flesh drives us, we want to control, we want to depend on no one, just as Adam and Eve ate from that tree because they bought the lie that they could be their own source (of life, satisfaction, everything).
Yet as soon as they ate, death took over, because there is no life-source apart from God Himself.
Once upon a time, there was a certain person in my life who constantly drove me UP A WALL. I tried my hardest to work up some kindness when I was around this individual. To. No. Avail.
Instead of choosing to walk in truth when I was with them, I chose to pick the seeds off the dead fruit they offered (jealousy, anger, bitterness), and re-plant them so that they would continue to reproduce. (Because apparently, I thought that was logical.)
Larry would tell you he felt the same way around this person, but he didn’t exacerbate the strife with bitter reactions (like I did). I chose to water the soil and allow the issue to grow more and more fractious.
Following our interactions with this person, I would hold this angry fuss-fest, where I’d spew the ugliest words I could find and complain out of a twisted self-righteousness. And I just couldn’t understand why my anger towards this human being seemed to grow larger over time. (Hmm.)
Until it occurred to me that my death-fueled reactions perpetuated the cycle of sin and death in this relationship. Because when we respond to the flesh in others with our own flesh behaviors, we tend the soil with more dead seeds.
There is a moment of opportunity in every circumstance where we can choose to call out the flesh and nail it to the cross. Instead of cultivating the soil in that moment with seeds of jealousy, strife, and resentment, we can choose life.
When we choose life, we bear the life-giving fruit of love, grace, peace, freedom…and only the life of the Holy Spirit within us can create this life-fruit.
What does this mean for you?
-What situation or relationship is exposing your flesh?
-Can you see how your choices have promoted more death…or more life?
Let it go right now, and acknowledge the impossibility of bearin life out of your own human effort. Ask God for the grace to REALLY LIVE today in the power of the Jesus-life within you.