Live According to the Spirit

Romans 8:12-13(NKJV) 12Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

The key to successful Christian living is to learn how to walk in the spirit. That simply means to live with our inner man in control as opposed to living with our flesh or our intellect in control. If we can do that we will naturally live in a way that is pleasing to God. We will find his will and purpose for our lives and fulfill the destiny he has for us. We will also have access to faith and the power of God to meet every need that comes our way. That is why Paul tells us in Hebrews 4 that we should make this the point of our Christian labor.

This week we have looked at the problem of how to control our flesh while we are growing in the walk of the spirit. We have focused on a number of things Paul tells us in Romans 8:9-13. To begin with, we must remember that the New Birth is real and causes us to be alive in the spirit. We must remember that Jesus experienced death for our sin. Therefore, we can see ourselves as dead with that death to sin, and alive with his resurrection to God. We must also remember that the spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is in us and that he will give life to our mortal bodies.

Yesterday we focused on the verses above and realized that we do not owe the flesh anything. It is so interesting how the flesh screams at us to feed it, entertain it, and give it everything it wants. What has the flesh done for us to deserve the attention it demands? It has gotten us in trouble, it has brought things into our lives that we could not get rid of when we wanted to. It has made us lazy, fat, selfish and destined for hell. I do not owe my flesh anything.

I do owe the Spirit. The realm of the Spirit is where God lives. It is where all he has given me comes from. It is where all the peace I will ever have resides. It is the source of joy. It is the place from which I draw strength to live today and it is the source of eternal life. I owe the spirit everything. If I never have anything here in the flesh, it only matters a few short years. What I have because of the spirit will be with me forever.

Just meditating on that will change how you deal with your flesh. If you are truly born again understanding what you owe Jesus and cultivating that knowledge in the midst of trial and temptation will help you overcome. However Paul takes it a step further.

We have focused in our study on the natural changes that come as we grow in walking in the spirit. I believe the goal is to come to a place where it is no longer necessary to struggle against our flesh all the time. I believe if we make a commitment to the Word of God and to the ministry of the Holy Spirit we will come to a place where there is very little struggle against sin. However, we will never get there if we simply allow sin to reign unchallenged in our physical life.

Sin robs us of our sense of God’s presence. It sets in motion things that will pay dividends we do not want to receive. Most of all it feeds the parts of our being that we are trying to change in order to learn to walk in the spirit. The end result we are looking for is a natural flow that will simply keep us from sin, but we cannot build that if we do not challenge and resist the sins that are in our lives now. (Hebrews 12:1-3) We owe this to God.

Look at Paul’s words from Romans 12.

Romans 12:1(KJV) 1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

What should we do if we owe the spirit so much and owe the flesh nothing. Today’s verses say we should live according to the spirit. In Romans 12 it says we should present our bodies as a living sacrifice which is our reasonable service. It is reasonable to pay the debt we owe in the only way possible. We should conduct our lives focused on the spirit not the flesh.

What does this mean. It means we make choices to do the things that will strengthen and develop our spirit not our flesh. We choose to go to church not stay home. We choose to make time for prayer and reading the Bible. We choose to praise and worship God even when we do not want to. These things are not unreasonable they are reasonable.

We choose not to do sinful things. We choose not to listen to things that draw us away from God. We choose movies, books, TV and music that will help us grow in walking in the spirit not that feed our flesh. This is our reasonable service.

To live according to the spirit is simply to make a commitment before God that we will choose a godly lifestyle and do our best to stick with that choice. It means to form relationships that help do that not ones that hinder our ability to do that. It means to draw closer to God, particularly when we want to run away. All of this is reasonable.

Your flesh will tell you it is not. Your flesh will tell you it is too hard. Your flesh will pressure you to stay away from the things that will strengthen your spirit. Why will it fight so hard? Because it does not want to lose its control over you future. It will press you with present temptation and past experiences because it wants to keep control of your future choices.

But you do not owe the flesh anything. You owe the spirit.

Making these choices will be difficult. However, like taking physical medicine or undergoing surgery, in the end you will be far better off. You will come to the point where you will not have such struggles. Choosing to live after the spirit will strengthen you in the place that gives you victory. It will eventually free you to be what you really want to be, not what the flesh is pressuring you to be.

The thing is, God will not do what the flesh will do. He will not put pressure on you the way the flesh does. In some ways it might be easier if he did, but God knows that you must choose these things and when you do you will be strong enough to resist any temptation and walk in the kind of victory your heart really desires.

One more thing. Let me remind you again, you will fail. That is part of the growth process. Failing is not terminal. Quitting is. You cannot take your failures too lightly, but you cannot carry the burden of them either. Next week we will spend some time dealing with what to do when you fail. For now just remember that the only way you can lose at this is to either quit or simply not care about the sinful things in your life.

Caring will make you feel guilty. Good. That is how you are supposed to feel. Get up and go again. In the end, since the Holy Spirit is your ally, you will win.

Who do You Owe?

Romans 8:12-13(NKJV) 12Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

This week we are dealing with the last area of our being which needs to be put in order if we are going to walk with our spirit in control. We know that the spirit must be built up by feeding on the Word of God and by exercising through praying in tongues and other spiritual activities. We know we must renew our mind with the Word of God so that our intellect, will and emotions will be changed to think like God thinks. The question this week has been, “What do we do about our flesh?”, while we are growing into the walk of the spirit.

So far we have focused on developing an awareness of the power of the new birth. We are in the spirit because we are born again. We also must believe that the death of Jesus was for our sin and because of that, we can and must see ourselves as dead to sin and alive to God. As we meditate on these truths it will help us resist the temptations that inevitably come into every one of our lives.

Yesterday we focused on the fact that the “Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead” dwells in us and the 11th verse tells us that this spirit can “quicken” or make alive our mortal bodies. The term mortal is used to let us know that Paul is not talking about the bodies we will have in eternity, but it is talking about these bodies that we struggle to bring into obedience to the Word of God right here on earth.

There are two ways that this helps us. First of all, we need to remember that the Holy Spirit is with us every moment of every day. As we cultivate that awareness it will affect the choices we make. We will have to sin with the knowledge that the Lord is right there watching us sin. Second, we need to remember that the power of the Holy Spirit can and will influence even our bodies in order to help us overcome sin while we are growing in our walk of the spirit.

Today I want to talk about the next couple of verses in Romans 8. Paul reminds the Romans of something that I find very interesting given the context of this chapter. He tells them that they are not debtors to the flesh but they are debtors to the spirit. I want to ask you today, “Who do you owe?”

In our society today we are no stranger to the idea of debt. It is such a part of our culture that we usually take for granted that we are going to be in debt. I am not saying this is either a good or necessary condition, but it is where our culture is right now. In Paul’s day that was not the case.

In Bible times, if you were in debt it was a very bad thing. Proverbs tells us the borrower is the slave of the lender. Although this is just as true today, the idea of what that meant was much more important in their society. Slavery was a very real fact of life in those days. If you were in debt you were no better than a slave. You had no choices, no freedom, your life was not your own.

Paul is drawing on this idea to make the Roman church see something very important. They were no longer slaves to the flesh. They did not owe the flesh anything. Jesus paid the debt that was owed by the flesh. This means that they no longer were obligated to serve the flesh. As far as the flesh is concerned, their life was their own again.

This is true for us as well. Although we do not tend to have the same sense of servitude where debt is concerned, we do feel the pressure of the flesh. The flesh pushes us to buy what we cannot afford. It pushes us to relationships we know are not right. It pushes us to “eat, drink and be merry” in ways we know are not godly but we are pressed to do them anyway. I want you to know today that you do not owe the flesh anything. You are free from the debt to the flesh because the blood of Jesus paid for it.

This side of what Paul is saying can be a powerful tool that will set us free in many ways. Nevertheless, there is another side to this truth that Paul also uses to help the Romans deal with the flesh. We are not debtors to the flesh but we are debtors to the spirit. We owe the Spirit of God everything. The source of our life is not the flesh it is the Spirit. If it were not for the Spirit you would be on your way to an eternity separated from God. You would have no access to God and his power. You would not be who you are.

Since I am a debtor to the spirit, I must be willing to “pay” that debt by focusing my life on spiritual things and not the flesh. When temptation comes, I need to realize that my life is not my own. Jesus bought it with a price, his precious blood. When temptation comes, if we have cultivated the fact that we do owe the spirit, we will be less inclined to give in to the temptation. I owe God better. I am a debtor to live life the way he wants me to because of what he did for me.

Can this really help me deal with the flesh as I grow in the spirit? The more we meditate on the truth that we owe God our lives, the more positive pressure will be on us to not to betray that debt by yielding to the temptation. We love God. We want to please the Father. We are grateful for all he has done for us. How can we just allow things that hurt him into our lives without at least trying to resist. We cannot.

Take a moment right now and acknowledge that Jesus paid the debt we owed the flesh. More important acknowledge that we do owe Jesus everything. All that is good in our lives we owe to God. More important, we owe the Lord our eternity. Given that debt, we owe God the resistance to the flesh that will keep us as we grow in our walk of the spirit.

The Holy Spirit Gives Life to our Mortal Bodies

Romans 8:11(NKJV11But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

This week we have been dealing with the question, “What do we do about our flesh?” The ultimate solution is to walk in the spirit. We know that in order to do so we must build up our spirit so that it is strong enough to take the controlling position in our life. We know that we must also renew our minds so that they become clear channels for the Word to affect our spirits and for the voice and power o God to touch our outward life. However these things take time.

While we are developing the walk of the spirit there are still things that we do which are not pleasing to God and that release death into our daily living. What do we do about those things? We cannot just ignore them. We must do all that we can to resist them. God hates sin and we must hate it as well. If we do not we will never develop to the point where we will walk in the spirit.

The first thing we must do is realize that, if we are born again we are already in the spirit. This does not mean that we walk around in an “otherworldly stupor.” It simply means that we are alive in the spirit. We are not like someone who is not saved who has death inside of them and therefore sin is his natural state. We have Jesus in our hearts. We can resist sin because it is no longer our nature. We need to believe this truth. When we do it will help us successfully resist temptation.

We must also accept and meditate on the truth that Jesus died for our sins and we can now see ourselves dead to sin and alive to God. (Romans 6:11) This is our true spiritual condition. Granted, it is not always easy to walk in that condition, but the more we accept it as the real truth the easier it will be to resist the temptation that comes from the devil.

In today’s verse we see another powerful truth that, if we accept it and believe it, will help us win the battle over sin. The Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead can and will give life to our mortal bodies. Mortal means death doomed. Our bodies are dominated by spiritual death. There will be a day when they are changed, but for now we still have these same bodies so that we can reach out to the cursed physical world. However that does not mean I have to be dominated by this death doomed body.

We have the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead inside of us. That Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God. In this verse Paul tells us that Spirit can directly affect these “death doomed” or mortal bodies. We cannot overcome sin by will power. We cannot allow sin to continue while we develop the walk of the spirit. We can believe for the Holy Spirit to help us and to put pressure on our bodies to do the right thing.

How do I cultivate this. I do it by faith. I acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit. I cultivate an awareness that he is there and believe for his help. As I meditate on this reality, it begins to be manifest in my daily living.

There are two dimensions to how this works. On the one hand we can develop the “phantom police car” mentality. Many years ago there was a TV ad campaign to promote safe driving. It told viewers to pretend there was a “phantom police car” following them all the time they were driving. As we all know, if a real police car is behind us we drive very differently than we normally do.

In the case of the Holy Spirit it is not a “phantom” presence it is a real presence. The Holy Spirit is with you everywhere you go. He sees everything you do and hears every word you speak. That is the truth. If the physical Jesus was with you throughout your day, what would change? Would you do some of the things you do now? How would his physical presence affect your response to temptation?

We have a real problem, even in the church, with internet pornography. The reason it is so prevalent is the illusion of anonymity. You do not have to buy a magazine or go into the back of the video store, you just go to a web site and no one knows. Sometimes we treat all the sinful things we do the same way. No one knows. After the fact I will go to the Lord and repent.

If you do God will receive you assuming your repentance is sincere. However, if you begin to cultivate the knowledge that the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is already in your mortal body, it will make resistance that much easier. He is there. Do you really want to do that in front of Him? Think about it.

We also need to realize that there is a power that can help us because the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is there. He will strengthen you by giving life to your death doomed body. You are growing in the walk of the spirit. You are building up your spirit and renewing your mind. You have not, however, arrived yet.

I remember teaching my children to ride bikes. I would run alongside of them while they were learning. At some point I would let go. Sometimes they would fall, but I was right there to catch them. I would help them until they learned to ride on their own. In a similar way the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will help you with your mortal body until you can walk in the spirit on your own.

This is not to say you will come to a place that you no longer need the Holy Spirit. There will come time where you will not need the same kind of help, or influence, from Him to overcome every sin. Look at this scripture.

Hebrews 5:14(NKJV) 14But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

As we mature the life that comes from the Holy Spirit will cause our senses to be able to discern good and evil. What does that mean? I believe it means that as we grow in our walk of the spirit there will be a time where our senses, our death doomed bodies, will reject sin. This is the condition described in Galatians 5, which says if we walk in the spirit we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

In the meantime we trust in the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead to give life to our mortal, death doomed, bodies so that we will be able to resist the temptations that come against us. Once again I must say that we will have days when we fail, but the Holy Spirit will be there to pick us up. The most important thing is that we must continue to resist. We must continue to agree with God’s definition of sin and accept that certain things are wrong and can bring death into our lives.

If we do that, the Holy Spirit will give life to these mortal, death doomed bodies, so that we can control them as we grow. He will also help us use them as affective witnesses to a dying world.

You Are in the Spirit if You Are Born Again

Romans 8:9-11(NKJV) 9But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

In yesterday’s post we established the fact that we must deal with our flesh as well as with our spirit and soul if we are going to walk in the spirit. As we build up our spirit and renew our mind, we will come to the place where we will not sin. However, this takes time. While we are doing those things we cannot simply ignore sinful behavior. If we do, sin will keep us from ever coming to the point where we really walk in the spirit.

We know that condemnation is not the answer. The very first verse of Romans 8, our textbook chapter for walking in the spirit, tells us that we are not to live under condemnation. We also know that the law is not the answer. The Law of Moses shows us the standard we must live up to, but trying to keep that standard with will power alone is hopeless. What is the answer?

We will look more closely at the Romans 8:13 later, but for now I want to point out that it gives us the answer.

Romans 8:13(NKJV) 13For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

The truth is we will never control the behavior of the flesh with the flesh. If we are going to overcome the flesh it must be by the spirit. Once again we must recognize that to fully develop our spirit in all areas will take time. You ask, “How much time?” It will take a lifetime. What do we do with the areas where we are still failing in the mean time. We cannot ignore them. The New Testament is clear about that. So how do we attack them.

I believe this chapter gives us some principles that will help us control our flesh while we are growing. The first of these is in the 9th verse. The 8th verse tells me I cannot please God if I am in the flesh. That is true enough, but the 9th verse gives me another truth that will help me resist temptation. It tells me I am in the spirit.

Many Christians spend too much time trying to “get in the spirit” when this verse tells us that if we are saved we are already there. The first step to controlling the flesh is to exercise faith in the power of the new birth. We have been born again. Before that we were by nature children of wrath, or the devil. (Eph 2:3) It was natural for us to obey our flesh. In order to control it we had to go against our nature. In salvation God changed that nature and now we are by nature children of God.

When I am confronted with temptation I need to realize that this temptation is no longer part of who I am. I used to have to fight temptation by denying my true nature, now I fight temptation by releasing the nature that came to me when I was born again. In Romans 7 Paul said that if I do what I do not want to do it is not me, the real me that is doing the wrong thing. It is sin that still wants to work through my flesh.

When that temptation comes to our flesh we need to resist it with the truth that I am no longer in the flesh but in the spirit because I am saved. Tell the devil, “That used to be me, but I am born again. I am by nature a child of God and that is how I will live my life.”

As you meditate on that thought you will find temptation begin to lose its hold on you. It will still take time before there is no temptation, but it will help you resist the temptations that come.

Make this confession from 2 Corinthians 5:17, “I am a new creature in Christ Jesus. The person that gave in to that temptation in the past is gone. All things in me have become new and they are of God. Therefore, I will not yield to this temptation.” You are in the spirit because you are a new creature.

The next verse tells us that our body is dead because of sin but our spirit is alive because of the work of Jesus Christ in our lives. This has two implications. First of all we must recognize that our bodies are where sin is played out. It was in the body of Eve and then Adam that sin found weakness and gained entrance to the human race. My body is not evil in itself, but it has been cursed by the fall and we need to guard against letting it gain control. When it does it us usually a bad thing.

However, there is another side to this. Romans 6 tells us that we were buried with Christ in baptism unto death. We died with him and that means our bodies can access his death on our behalf. Romans 6:10-11 says this;

Romans 6:10-11(NKJV) 10For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The death Jesus died he died to sin once and for all. We know that Jesus never sinned himself, so who’s sin did he die too? He died to your sin and mine. Since his death was for my sin it is possible to see myself as dead to sin and alive to God.

How does this help me overcome the sins that are troubling me now? As I meditate on these things I am strengthening my mind and my spirit by the Word of God in the specific area of resisting temptation. As the temptation comes I fight it with these thoughts. “I am dead to this sin. Jesus died for this sin. Flesh, I see you as dead to this and alive to God!”

As you arm yourself with these thoughts and put these words in your mouth you will be more able to resist the temptations that come. Again, it will still take time to grow to the point where they are not temptations, but you will at least be resisting. Sooner or later you will “go over the top” and win the fight against each thing that is a temptation to you personally.

We will pick this up tomorrow but let me say one thing more today. You will fail. You will resist with these principles and you will still have days when you choose to do something you know you should not. God knows that as well as you. He tells us in 1 John 1 that if we say we have no sin we are lying. He makes provision for us to repent and receive forgiveness for our failures. God has no problem with that. What he will not accept is when we do not care.

The wages of sin is always death. God did not call some things sin just because he does not like them. He calls some things sin and tells us not to do them because they will bring death into our lives. That process started in the Garden of Eden. God was not withholding the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he was protecting man from sin. When man gave in it opened the door of death to the whole creation.

If we fail, he forgives us. If we think we can continue in sin without caring, we are wrong. We will become hard to it and we will never overcome it. I do not care if you commit the same sin 490 times in one day, (Matt 18:22) keep repenting. Keep caring. Do not give in to condemnation but yield to Godly conviction. If you just ignore it, it will not go away. It will take root and produce a problem that will be very hard to overcome.

What do we do About the Flesh

Romans 8:8-9(NKJV) 8So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

Let’s review just a bit. If we are going to be successful in our Christian life, we need to learn to walk in the spirit. Walking in the spirit will cause us to have clear access to the power of God and to the wisdom of God. This will result in our inevitably finding the destiny God has for us in this life

Romans chapter 7 ends with “Oh wretched man that I am” and Romans 8 ends with I am more than a conqueror in Christ. I believe Romans 8 is the textbook for how to go from wretched to more than a conqueror by teaching us how to walk in the spirit.

To walk in the spirit we need to deal with all three areas of our being, spirit, soul and body. We have studied two of the three. To walk in the spirit we must build up our spirit man. Jude 20 tells us that we build ourselves, and I believe that means our spirits, by praying in the spirit. I believe this is clearly talking about praying in tongues primarily. 1 Corinthians 14:14 says, “If I pray in tongues my spirit prays.” Praying in the Spirit also involves praying under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but taking Jude 20 and 1 Corinthians 14:14 together, I think it is fair to conclude that “praying in the Spirit” includes praying in tongues.

In our “textbook” chapter we find this truth as well. Look at vs. 26.

Romans 8:26(NKJV) 26Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Once again, this verse does not mention “praying in tongues”, but if we look at the wording it says the Spirit makes intercession for us with “groanings” which cannot be uttered. The Amplified Bible says with “groanings to deep for utterance.” Another translation says “groanings which cannot be understood with intelligible speech. I do not believe it is too much of a leap to think that this refers to praying in tongues.

So what do we do with our spirit? We build it up. First by the exercise of praying in tongues. Second by feeding our spirit a proper diet. Our spirit is nourished by the Word of God. If we do not give our body a good diet and some exercise it will get weak. The same is true of our spirit. If we give it both it will be strengthened and we will be more able to walk with that part of us in control.

I have spent the most time talking about what to do with our soul. This part is made up of our intellect, will and emotions. Over my years in ministry, I have known many people that were working to build up their spirit, but still were not successful in their Christianity. The reason was their soul. What must we do where our soul is concerned. Paul tells us in Romans 8 that we must set our minds on the things of the Spirit and be spiritually minded. In the twelfth chapter he says it this way;

Romans 12:2(NKJV) 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

So we must build up our spirit and renew our minds in order to successfully walk in the spirit. That leaves one more area to deal with. What do we do with our body, or more accurately our flesh?

First let us define what we are talking about. Our bodies are not evil, but they are part of the cursed creation. At the fall of man the whole natural creation was affected by man’s sin. His spirit was separated from God and made subject to the devil. This is called spiritual death. Spiritual death affected the physical realm by causing the law of sin and death to gain control. Sin produced spiritual death which led to physical death.

Physical death affected everything in the natural world. Man’s body became “mortal” or death doomed. This death began to affect society, animals and the reaction of the earth to man. When we were born again this curse was broken over the spirit of man and his spirit was joined again to God. Romans tells us that there will be a day when that freedom will extend to our bodies as well, but not yet.

Why are we still in these death cursed bodies? Because they give us authority in the earth. You and I have the right to reach out to those still under the curse because we are still part of the cursed creation physically. The good news is that the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the Law of Sin and Death. That does not mean our physical bodies cannot be affected by it. It does mean we can control its affects on our physical life by the influence of the life of God in our spirit.

That said, the curse is still there in our bodies. They tend to want things that are not good for us. If they are left to themselves they will sin and that sin will lead to death. We tend to think of the flesh as our physical bodies. This is partially true, but not totally. There is more to the flesh than just our bodies. It is really the combination of our bodies and our soul that makes up the flesh. When your soul and your body get into agreement on something that is not good, your flesh is in control.

This may be a dominant desire of your body or it may be a problem in the emotions, will or intellect, but when they agree, you will have problems. In today’s verse we see that if we are in the flesh we cannot please God. So I ask again, “What do we do about the flesh?”

Let me close today by telling you what we cannot do. We have studied at length the fact that the very first verse of Romans 8 tells us we do not have to be under condemnation. That is both true and vitally important to successfully walking in the spirit. But “no condemnation” does not mean we do not deal with the sinful actions that are still present in our lives.

You might say, “I am dealing with them by learning to walk in the spirit. I am building up my spirit and I am renewing my mind. Eventually I will stop the sinful behavior if I do that.” This is true. These are the most important things you can do to overcome the flesh. However they do not happen overnight. They take time. What do we do about the things that are wrong in the mean time.

Let me illustrate with something that you probably do not have a problem with. Stealing. If you knew a thief and they got saved, they would need to build up their spirit and renew their mind. This would take time. Do you think it would be OK for them to keep stealing while they are growing? Of course not. They would have to resist the urge to steal while they were growing. If they did not do that God could not bless them and they would never walk in the spirit.

If they did “backslide” and steal along the way, God would forgive them, but they could not simply say, “I’ll stop stealing someday.”, and just go about their business. They must do all they can to stop their sinful behavior. So do You and I. Tomorrow we will take another step.

The Effect of Meditation in the Word of God

Joshua 1:8(NKJV) 8This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

This week we have been focusing on how to meditate in the Word of God. From the above verse we can conclude that we use our mouths and our imagination as tools to accomplish this skill. As we “mutter” the Word over and over to our selves we begin to see shades of meaning that we did not see before. This aspect of confessing the Word of God also helps to keep it in our minds.

This verse tells us to meditate on the Word day and night. This does not mean we have to think about the Bible every waking moment. It does mean that we must make a commitment to make the word a central part of our thought life. It means that we must not just read a few verses, but we must “ponder” or think deeply about what we read, We should use the time we have through the day to dwell upon what we may be reading or studying at any given time.

What is the effect of this process on our lives? We see in this verse that God says we will “observe to do” what the word says. In this study we have talked about revealed knowledge. This is knowledge that does not come to us from our senses, but is revealed by the Lord to our spirit. Here he says we will observe so that we can do what the word says. Observe means see. Reveal means to make or allow someone to see. Meditation leads to revelation which leads to an ability to be doers of the Word of God.

James 1 tells us that if we are hearers of the Word but not doers of the Word we deceive ourselves. We cannot do what we do not understand and we are not likely to do what we do not really believe. Faith is the result of seeing. The main weapon of the devil against us is deception. When we do not do the Word we hear, we do his job for him. I do not know about you but I do not want to help the enemy of my soul.

The next thing God tells Joshua is that meditation in the word will cause Joshua to make his way prosperous. I think this is an interesting word choice. He does not say Joshua would be prosperous. Sometimes I think that we simply sit by and wait for God to do something to make us prosper. Here he tells Joshua that meditation in the Word will cause Joshua to be able to do what it takes to prosper. How does Bible meditation lead to prosperity?

When we meditate in the Word of God we are filling our mind with the wisdom of God. As we meditate on that wisdom it will rise to the surface in our decision making. We will see things more clearly. We will know the right choices to make. As we make wise choices we will prosper.

We are also filling our minds with the voice of God. Meditation in the Word is not just a mental exercise. It is interaction with the Spirit of God. He speaks to us as we meditate in the Word. He not only reveals the deeper knowledge concerning what we are meditating, but the process opens our mind to his voice and his direction. This will lead us to be able to hear God’s direction when it comes to the things we need to do in order to prosper.

How would our work or business life change if we had God as our moment to moment advisor. That is exactly what happens when we “meditate day and night” on the Word of God. When there is a challenge we will have God’s direction as to how to handle it. When there is a decision to make we will not have to fast and pray for days in order to hear the voice of the Lord. It will be there already because the channel of meditation in the Word has been open. It is easy to see how this will enable us to “make our way prosperous.”

Finally, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Rom. 10:17) The revelation that comes from meditation in the Word of God is the very thing that produces faith. We will have the spiritual capacity to believe what we need to believe in order to prosper in what God has called us to do. Without the mechanism of meditation in the Word of God, faith is a hit or miss proposition. When I am continually meditating in God’s Word, faith for what I need is never far away. All I need to do is turn my meditation to the promise that applies and I find that faith rises in my heart.

The next thing God tells Joshua is that he will have “good success.” There are many kinds of success in the world. We see successful people all the time as their lives are played out in the media. Most of them cannot seem to stay married. Their children are in trouble. Their personal behavior is often appalling. Is that “good success?” I do not think so.

There are many others that we do not hear about, but their success has caused them to “sell their soul” to obtain what they seek. Their whole life is focused on what they do in order to bring success into their lives. They also often lose family and their integrity to get what they think is success.

The world has a standard that it calls success which involves money, position and recognition. However is any of that “good success?” I believe that meditation in the Word of God will give us a kind of success that will not rob us of what is truly important in life, but will enhance it. I believe we will have success that is defined by God and not by some worldly standard. I do not believe there is anything wrong with having money or a nice care or a nice home. I think that if we do what God calls us well, we will find a certain degree of recognition. I just do not believe that any of this is the definition of good success.

Let us look at the words of Jesus in his great high priestly prayer from John 17.

John 17:1-3(NKJV) 1Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

As Jesus prays for his disciples he defines eternal life for us. He says it is to know God and to know Jesus Christ whom God sent. In John 10 he uses a different term to describe this kind of life. He calls it abundant life. The definition of abundant is something that is superior in quality and greater in quantity. To me that is success. In John 17 he says that the way to get that kind of success is to know God and to know Jesus. If we have that knowledge then we have good success.

All of this ties right back into the idea of “walking in the spirit.” Walking in the spirit is the product of all that we have studied in the last weeks and it leads to living an abundant life full of good success and prosperity. I believe meditation in the Word of God is the key that unlocks all of this. Make time for it today. Make a place for it in your daily lifestyle. Then you will see how to do the Word and you will make your way prosperous and you will have good success.

The Elements for Meditation in the Word 2

Joshua 1:8(NKJV) 8This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Yesterday we began to look at the elements we use when we meditate in the Word of God. The first thing pointed out in Joshua 1:8 is the central place the Bible holds in what we are talking about. God tells Joshua “this book of the Law” shall not depart from your mouth. The Bible is the only standard for anything we receive from this process and it is what we are “reprogramming” our minds with.

Second, he tells Joshua to keep the word in his mouth. Part of the process of meditation is to “mutter” the Word or speak it to ourselves. As we do, the Holy Spirit begins to help us unlock the truth of the passage. We come to the place where we not only know the verse or verses intellectually, but we see the truth as revelation. At that point faith is released and our lives change.

Today I want to look at the next phrase in Joshua 1:8 to see the other part of meditation in the Word that God gave to Joshua. He says meditate on the Word “day and night.” It is important to understand that this is not a process that can be done in a few minutes or once a week on Sunday. He indicates that it is a continual thing. Does this mean that we cannot think of anything but the Bible all day long? Of course not. That is impossible. It does mean that the awareness of the Word should be with us all the time. It should be the foundation of our thinking and there must be a commitment to keep it in the center of our lifestyle.

For many Christians the Bible is something they pay attention to in church or Bible study. They may spend a few minutes a day in a reading plan. However when that is over they do not think of the Word of God again until the next meeting or the next day’s “devotional” time. This will never bring us to revelation and the renewing of the mind.

Although we cannot spend every waking moment thinking about the Word of God, I believe we can make a decision to keep it in the center of our thinking. If we do, it will be there when we have time to think. How often does our mind drift to other things than those upon which we are currently focused? I am not saying that every spare moment of “brain time” must be spent on the Word, but if we have a commitment to meditate on the Word our minds will use more of that “idle” thinking time to think on the truths we may be building into revelation in our lives.

How do we actually meditate in the Word of God? Aside from “muttering” the Word, the other mechanism we use is the imagination. To meditate means to ponder. Webster defines this as to “think about (something) carefully.” The implication is that we keep the thought in our minds until we get the full understanding. There is an interesting illustration that shows how this process works.

A cow has a particular element to its digestive system that works much like meditation should work in our minds. The cow takes a mouthful of grass and begins to chew. She continues chewing for some time. Finally she will swallow the ground up grass. However, that is not the end of the process. She will actually regurgitate the grass and begin chewing it again. She may repeat this process several times until every bit of nutrition is so broken down that it is easy for her to receive the nourishment in the grass.

Meditation works very much like the cow “chewing its cud”. We study the word, we mutter the word and then we begin to think on the Word. We ponder it in our minds. We may be driving to work and all the time our minds are working on what we have been reading and studying. We ask questions. “What if this was really true? How would that effect my life?” We ask other questions in our minds concerning things we may not understand. “How can that be? Are there other scriptures that say the same thing?” We may go back later and try and answer those questions or we may just let them set in our minds being “digested” by the meditation process.

As we progress through our day, we think on other things. We work or deal with our families. We may have recreation or fellowship time, but at some point, like our cow, we bring the scripture we are meditating on to the surface of our thinking again. We may ask other questions. We may picture the action of the scripture. We may use our imagination to picture ourselves the way the verse says we should be. This process continues as long as it takes for something to be revealed to our minds by the Holy Spirit.

Many of us have no idea how to meditate, but we do know how to do something else with our minds. We know how to worry. We play out every negative scenario about a situation until we “see” them so clearly we often think they have already happened. Our minds run on the problem seeking a solution. We cannot seem to go to sleep because the thoughts keep coming so rapidly that we cannot shut our minds off.

Although worry is negative and meditation is a positive placing of the Word of God in our minds, the mechanism is the same. We even tend to mutter when we are worried. Take a moment to think about how you worry. The same processes you are using to worry are the processes you will use to meditate in the Word of God.

You will find that worry is almost automatic. Meditation in the Word will require some effort and commitment. You will have to drag your mind away from the tendency to worry in order to meditate in the Word, but my point is, you already know how to do it.

One final thought about this process. This is not something you are doing alone. The whole point of meditation in the Word of God is to understand that the author of the Word is living in you. The Holy Spirit will get involved with this process. He wants to give you revelation. As you meditate on the Word, he will begin to speak to you. That is why at least some of your meditation time requires quiet.

One of the best times for this is when we are alone in the car. If you have a commute or any time you are driving alone, turn off the radio the MP3 player or whatever you may use to occupy the time. Instead use that time as meditation time. Think on the Scripture you read that morning. Mutter the verses you have been meditating on. You will find the Holy Spirit will begin to talk to you. He will begin to show you things that your mind did not originate.

This is a process that takes time to master, but you can do it. Make a commitment to meditate on the Word of God. Have a regular time of Bible reading, but do not get caught up in quantity. Many of us get our reading in and think we have done our work. We walk away feeling good about our discipline but we never think about what we read for the rest of the day. This does very little good. Read less and meditate more. In the end you will renew your mind. You will begin to walk in the spirit and your life will be transformed in ways you cannot imagine.