Letting go, letting God

All success and failure in life is related to who is in control. We are blessed in the New Covenant to be able to enjoy God’s very presence in our lives and a Spirit-led lifestyle. The Word says, “…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Php. 2:13) and also, “…your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’…” (Isaiah 30:21).

His Word also says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Gal 5:25) and “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal 5:16). So, while God is continually at work in us, clearly our free will remains intact and we still get to make the choices in our lives. However, you’ll notice that God doesn’t firstly call us to choose right from wrong, but rather to walk in His Presence. Doing what’s right is not our goal, but it is the result of walking in the Spirit.

Walking in the Spirit comes from a rested lifestyle that God gives us when our lives are turned toward Him. It’s a quiet confidence in our loving God that His Spirit permeates in us. In the Spirit we have access to Jesus’ faith, His strength, His leading, His wisdom, His presence and His perfect will amongst many other things. We know this because God’s word says, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).

Yet, we are easily and often outside of God’s best. In particular areas of our lives we might be prone to either walk in the Spirit or not, despite God being at work in us. Yet, it’s this choice that determines the source of our subsequent choices and their outcomes. We are easily drawn away by our own flesh and the world’s temptations. Like Demas was, “in love with this present world”, I and perhaps even you and many others are examples of this. John speaks of “the sin that so easily entangles us.” Circumstances, distractions, fears or whatever can come our way and we are faced with whether to take control, or call on Jesus and be led and strengthened by the Spirit.

Jesus, our perfect example, said, “I only do what My Father does and I only speak the words that My Father is speaking.” He lived in perfect connectivity to God and has restored this possibility for us. Notice, however, that He always had His own will. Yet, unlike us, He always subjected it to the will of His Father, because He always drew on the Spirit to continually do so. Apart from God’s Spirit, Jesus could have done nothing of what we read about in the Gospels. Equally, Jesus says to his disciples, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” Also, consider these conditional promises to us:

  • “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). Notice the two conditions.
  • “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Pro. 3:6).
  • “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” (Eph 5:18). A lifestyle choice.
  • “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (Jas 4:8). Everybody else, but me!?
  • Jesus, talking to a church, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent” (Rev 2:5).
  • Whatever the works are that Jesus mentioned in the verse above, no doubt they exist in the light of John 6:28-29. “Then they said to him, ‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’”

Jesus judges His church by their works, because the fruit in our lives, both in attitude and activity, show the extent to which we are relying on Him. Now, what do I do when I find that I’m outside of God’s best? I rest in His finished work at the cross and repent of having taken over control. I repent of not living in and from His presence and from doing my own thing. I give control back to Him and begin to rely on His still small voice again and His grace (God’s enabling power) at work in me. Correcting wrong behavior is firstly about choosing the right source.

The Christian life is about Jesus living His life in and through us. To the church and specifically to the individuals in it He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20).

Rob Morley