One step away

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Galatians 5:16)

The youth ministry that I work with has started a new series focusing on the Fruit of the Spirit.  It has been, like everything else, challenging for me to look deeper at my walk with the Lord.  We went “head on” with the idea of balancing our walk with Christ between legalism and reckless behavior.  Thinking about that balancing act has really “wrecked” me for lack of better words.  I have struggled to find the balance.  What is the balance?  I think the balance is to realize that I will never (at least not on this side of eternity) get complete away from recklessness.  I am a sinful human.  But I can’t just write it off and never try to do anything about it.  I can’t just expect to sin on a daily basis and be alright with it, because it’s out of my control.  I have to work at it – daily.

On the other side of that line is legalism.  Legalism stinks of me.  It’s all about what I am doing to earn favor with the Lord.  What I’m doing to try to make up for the recklessness.  Paul was pretty clear in Romans 3:10 – “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one;”.  No one can earn the favor of God.  It’s not in us.  We are flawed from the beginning.  While it’s true, I can’t earn favor with God by anything I do, I can please Him by living for Him.  I can please Him by giving Him control.  I need to submit to the Holy Spirit’s leading of my life.  I’m not obeying the Holy Spirit because it’s going to get me “brownie” points, I am obeying the Holy Spirit because I want a close relationship with the one that gave his life for me.  I’m obeying His call to surrender my will, my desires to Him so that He can fill me with the desires that make me what He wants.

So back to the struggle.  Why do I struggle?  It seems pretty simple: listen to the Spirit and guard my heart against recklessness or habitual sinning.  I struggle because I am weak.  I struggle because I am human – and I forget that I am saved.  I struggle because I am a man and it’s inherent that we try to tough things out, go it alone, work for what we have.  I struggle because I lack the discipline to consciously yield to the Spirit while the flesh is on auto-pilot, always seeking a weak moment to strike. I struggle.  It has been a depressing few days as I have stewed over this, but today, through the Holy Spirit and God’s love for me, I have started to see and realize things God’s been teaching me all along.  The song One Step Away by Casting Crowns came up on my playlist earlier, and the words started to sink in.  One of the biggest ways the devil attacks me is through my guilt.  It’s the same cycle.  I fall and sin.  Then I feel guilty and I immediately start to think of how I need to make amends.  This gets me in the “me” train of thought and I start to ignore the holy spirit.  Before I know it, I have tripped up again, and I repeat.  It is the feeling of being chained to an endless cycle.  But these words just resonated in my heart today

So come on home, come on home

One step away from arms wide open
His love has never let you go

You’re not alone, You’re one step away

Lay down, lay down your old chains
Come now, take up your new name

We are blessed because He never leaves us if we have placed our trust in Him.  He is right there, one step away with arms wide open.  He’s just waiting on me to put down the chains that bind me and get back to simply loving Him, taking that one step forward, away from my past, walking in the new life He gave me the moment I trusted Him to save me.  I can find victory because the score is settled.  I can find peace in the leading of the Spirit.

Father, thank you for helping me to see that it’s all about your love and all about surrendering to that love.  The Christian life on this earth is not easy, and I’m pulled in many directions often, but your love for me has always been straight and perfect and your love for me knows no end.  You’re always one step away from me.  Thank you for your perfect love, thank you for the freedom I find in you, and thank you for the peace I have when I surrender to the spirit.  In your name I pray – Amen.

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