As I look out back I can see things thriving and others struggling, depending on where I look. When I look in the garden I see cherry tomatoes in quantities that baffle my mind as I think that I would have to eat massive quantities each day in order to keep up (either that or share them). When I look to the mature fruit trees I see branches that are bending under the weight. Yet when I look just outside the garden where our blueberries are supposed to be thriving, I see weeds that have gone crazy, burying the berries. When I look to the front yard and a section of the back yard I see green grass, but when I look to the further reaches of the back yard (areas which I choose to sparingly water) I see dry brown grass. I see things that have been fed, watered, and weeded and are thriving as a result, and I see things that are struggling because of a lack of attention, a lack of nutrition, a lack of rain, and an abundance of baking sunshine.
This picture resembles our world around us and it also can resemble our lives as we daily make choices about how we are going to live. In Christ, we have been given all that we need to grow, mature, and bear fruit. But in ourselves we can choose to ignore this enablement and struggle in our own flesh. Paul talked about this tension to live as he knew he should live in Romans 7:13-25. But then in Romans 8 Paul wrote about our ability to live victoriously as we read in verses 1-11.
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:1–11, NASB95)
He set up a contrast—literally a battle raging within us—one leading to defeat and one to victory. The one leading to victory is dependent on our walking according to the Spirit which, as Christians, we are able to do because we are in the Spirit because the Spirit of God dwells in us (8:9). This is not true for those who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. And it is not true in the sense of our daily skirmishes when we choose to walk according to our own desires and not according to Christ.
“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” (Colossians 2:6–7, NASB95)
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31, NASB95)
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37, NASB95)
(Afternoon Update: With a little bit of attention half of the berry bushes can see light as they have been set free from the choking weeds.)
Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (8/28)
Grow strong in the Light of My Presence. As My Face shines upon you, you receive nutrients that enhance your growth in grace. I designed you to commune with Me face to Face, and this interaction strengthens your soul. Such communion provides a tiny glimpse of what awaits you in heaven, where all barriers between you and My Glory will be removed. This meditative time with Me blesses you doubly: You experience My Presence here and now, and you are refreshed by the hope of heaven, where you will know Me in ecstatic Joy.
Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?” Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:6-8
The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. Revelation 21:23