Archive of Daily Bible Lessons
February 23-29, 2004
|2.23.04||The Holy Spirit and Starting Out with God|
|2.24.04||The Holy Spirit and Going On with God|
|2.25.04||Walking in the Spirit|
|2.26.04||The Contrary Desires of the Flesh and the Spirit|
|2.27.04||Set Free by the Spirit|
|2.28.04||The Crucial Choice: Flesh or Spirit|
|2.29.04||More on the Crucial Choice: Flesh or Spirit|
|Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit . . . You must be born again. (John 3:5-7)|
|The new life that allows you to start out with God comes through a
spiritual birth that is brought forth by the Holy Spirit. "Unless one is born of . . . the Spirit, he cannot
enter the kingdom of God." Just as a person must be physically born into the human family, so also must a
person be spiritually born into God's family. There is no other option. That is why Jesus said,"You must be
The reason spiritual new birth is a necessity is because "that which is born of the flesh is flesh." Natural human birth brought about by natural human resources can only produce a life that is natural. Being a child of God involves a supernatural life that God alone can provide.
When Jesus came to secure your redemption, He was generally rejected. "He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him." (John 1:11). Nevertheless, some realized that He was Messiah, the Anointed King and Savior sent from the Father. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12).
Believing in Jesus name involves trusting in His person and His work. It encompasses relying upon who He is, what He says, and what He has done and can do. Such faith brings a unique new birth. "Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13). This birth is from God. It cannot come by inheritance or genetics through your human bloodline. It is not available through an exercise of your human will. Neither can you have it pronounced upon you by some religious leader.
The Lord desires for you to walk in a heavenly, spiritual life, not a mere earthly, human existence. Only a birth from the Spirit of God could bring you this type of life. "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit." All genuine spirituality must come from a work of the Holy Spirit on your behalf. This is true concerning your starting out with God in new birth and justification. "You . . . were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:11). You will see in subsequent meditations that this is true concerning your going on with God in growth and sanctification.
|Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for making me Your child, through faith in Your Son, Jesus. I praise You for the new life Your Holy Spirit has brought to me. Help me to understand from Your word that the entire Christian experience is to be as supernatural as being born again was. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.|
|Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (Galatians 3:2-3)|
|The work of the Holy Spirit is required for you to start out with
God through new birth and justification. The Holy Spirit must also be at work in you if you are to go on with God
in growth and sanctification. These truths are declared in Galatians 3:2-3.
The opening portion of the present scripture passage uses a question to address starting out with God. "Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" The answer to this question is obvious. No one could ever have the Spirit of God come to indwell them on the basis of their performance before God's law. Only the "hearing of faith" could ever cause that. The Holy Spirit came to live in you when you heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and believed in Him. At that time, your sins were forgiven, you were justified (declared not guilty, righteous in God's sight), and you were born again by the Spirit. All of this marked your beginning with God. All of this involved the work of the Holy Spirit on your behalf.
The closing words of the passage use two additional questions to apply this issue of the Spirit's work to your going on with God. "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" As a child of God, you began with Him "in the Spirit." Now, it would be spiritually senseless, to think that you could progress with God "by the flesh." Surely, you agree with the Lord that you could not produce your own spiritual birth into His family. You had to be "born of the Spirit" (John 3:6). Certainly, you want to agree with God that you cannot manufacture your own spiritual growth, that is, be "made perfect by the flesh."
The Lord desires that you mature and develop in this new life in Christ. Such growth in Christ is a spiritual matter. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." The resources that you have received from your earthly parents are of the flesh. These natural capabilities cannot cause spiritual development to take place in your life. The perfecting process, being made increasingly like the Lord Jesus Christ, necessitates the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in you. Remember, the means God used to start you out with Him (to justify you) are the means He uses to grow you up in Him (to sanctify you).
|O Holy Father, I humbly admit that I have frequently been so foolish as to think that I could produce more godliness in me through my own best efforts. Lord, I see that I need Your Spirit as much for spiritual growth as I did previously for spiritual birth. As I seek You through prayer and Your word, please take me on with You in growth and sanctification by the work of Your Holy Spirit, through Christ, I pray, Amen.|
|Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh . . . If you live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16,25)|
|The term "walk" is used dozens of times in the New Testament
to describe the manner of life that a person is leading. Many of these occurrences depict the Christian life; for
example, "walk in love . . . walk as children of light . . . walk circumspectly" (Ephesians 5:2, 8, 15).
In today's passage, you are told to "walk in the Spirit."
Walking is a very insightful description of spiritual life. A walk has a beginning and a destination. Your beginning was in new birth: "born of the Spirit." (John 3:6). Your destination is heaven forever with your Lord and Savior: "And thus you shall always be with the Lord." (1 Thes 4:17). A good walk is steady and progressive. You are called to be faithful: "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21). You are called to press ahead: "forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal" (Philippians 3:13-14).
In addition, a walk has many potential adventures along the way. You are likely to encounter stretching challenges and paradoxical blessings: "in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness. . . as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things" (2 Corinthians 6:5,10).
Ultimately, a walk must have an available resource that provides sufficient vitality, strength, guidance, and assurance. Here, today's Bible verse offers special hope through the injunction to "walk in the Spirit." Day by day, each step of the way, you are to rely upon the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in your life. Every issue of life (whether at home, office, school, or church) is to be faced in this manner. Otherwise, the influence of your flesh (your natural humanity) will prevail. "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." You are not able yourself to overcome the inadequacies and improper tendencies of the flesh. However, the Holy Spirit is more than able to become your sufficient provider of whatever you need for an effective and fruitful walk.
This perspective on Christian living makes complete biblical sense, when you connect your daily walk to how you found spiritual life in the first place. "If you live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." It was strictly by the work of the Spirit that you received life initially; therefore, strive to take each step of life "[walking] in the Spirit."
|Lord God Almighty, I am so weak and so easily enticed in my flesh. I cannot produce what is needed for the spiritual walk to which I am called. O Lord, I cry out to You for the indispensable work of Your Spirit within me. Lord, teach me to walk day by day by the grace that Your Spirit alone can provide, Amen.|
|For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. (Galatians 5:17)|
|Every believer in Christ has had the frustrating experience of wanting
to do what pleases the Lord, but being unable to actually accomplish such. The Bible verse for today tells you
that a spiritual struggle is behind your failure. "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit
against the flesh." The Spirit of God dwells within your life. He is the "Spirit of holiness" (Romans
1:4). He desires that you be "partakers of His holiness" (Hebrews 12:10) and thereby walk in godliness.
However, the flesh (natural humanity) is also present in your life. These natural desires of a human being are
not toward holiness, but rather toward self-indulgence and self-sufficiency. Thus, what the Spirit desires and
what your flesh craves are set against each other. "These are contrary to one another." The consequence
of this internal conflict is "that you do not do the things that you wish." Even though godly desires
develop in you as a new creature in Christ, you find yourself unable to implement these new longings by your good
The Apostle Paul gave testimony to his own failure in this battle. "For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice" (Romans 7:19). The problem was that Paul's personal resources (the flesh) were not adequate to produce the desired results. "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find" (Romans 7:18). Yes, Paul had some godly desires. "For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man" (Romans 7:22). Nevertheless, there was a problem that he could not resolve on his own. "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members" (Romans 7:23). A tendency to sin that dwelt in Paul's human members (his body, his brain) pulled him down to defeat. He needed help.
Access to that necessary divine rescue was through a humble cry for a deliverer. "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24). This appropriate confession of the spiritual bankruptcy of his flesh led to another confession of certain victory. "I thank God [it is] through Jesus Christ your Lord!" (Romans 7:25). This humble turning from self to Christ allows you to walk in the Spirit (Romans 8), living by His victorious resources. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:2).
|Dear Jesus, Mighty Deliverer, I humbly admit that I am not able to implement by my best efforts the godly desires that are developing in me. I need You, Lord. So many times I have had holy intentions that ended up in carnal defeat. So, Lord, I cry out to You to deliver me from my present struggles, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, Amen.|
|For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)|
There is a destructive spiritual tendency that resides in you and every human being. It is "the law of sin and death."
This indwelling principle is always pulling you downward into sin and spiritual deadness. It comes from your being born physically into a fallen race of sinners who are like their earthly father, Adam.
Being born anew spiritually does not remove this problem, since
this principle still operates within your natural humanity (the flesh). Yet, becoming a child of God DOES make
His remedy constantly available to you.
Jesus was, and is, the only one who could ever walk fully pleasing
to the Father. Jesus said, "I always do those things that please Him" (John 8:29). For a victorious Christian
experience, you need this same life of Jesus living in and through you now, by the working of the Holy Spirit.
You need the higher law ("the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus") setting you free from the lower
law ("the law of sin and death").
|Dear Lord Jesus,You alone can supply the life I am called to live. I humbly agree with Your word that my resources are marred by a tendency to sin. I gladly trust in Your Holy Spirit to increasingly liberate me from my the defeat of living by my flesh. I thank You in advance for the faithful ways You will answer this prayer. Lord Jesus, live in and through me by the power of Your Spirit, Amen.|
|Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Romans 8:5-6)|
As a believer in Christ, the crucial choice that you face day by day is between living by the flesh or living by the Spirit. The difference concerns facing life by your resources and perspectives or by God's. "Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit."
When you deal with life by your flesh, you typically think about
"what I want out of my life" or "what I can accomplish with my life." Conversely, when you
deal with life by the Spirit, you typically think about "what God wants for my life" or "what God
can accomplish through my life."
On the other hand, when you set your mind on heavenly matters,
you will be considering issues of humility ("how much I need the Lord") or faith ("how great the
Lord is"). The results of such spiritual thoughts are "life and peace" (spiritual vitality and spiritual
Contrariwise, when you place your expectations upon the Lord, His
Spirit brings forth, through you, fruit like "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23).
|O Sovereign Lord, I bow to Your wisdom and authority that offers these two choices alone. Lord, I renounce the natural path of my flesh which brings severe, but deserved, consequences. I gladly embrace the supernatural path of Your Spirit, which brings the undeserved results of Your grace at work in me, Amen.|
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
One of the unchangeable aspects of being a Christian is that God offers you only two choices for all of the issues that you will encounter throughout your life; namely...
The consequences accompanying these options are inevitable, because
of the certainties of sowing and reaping. "Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." When an apple
seed is planted, an apple tree is the only possible plant that can result. When a seed of the poisonous hemlock
is planted, an apple tree can never be the result. Whatever category of seed you put into the ground, that is the
only type of crop that can be reaped.
Seeds of the Spirit - The second set of seeds and harvest extends an encouraging expectation. "But he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life."
|O merciful Father, I humbly repent of the innumerable occasions when I sowed fleshly seeds in word and deed. The crop that resulted was always destructive. Thank You for cleansing me through the blood of Christ. Now, Lord, by faith I ask You to bring forth through my life a new harvest of spiritual abundance, by Your Holy Spirit, Amen.|