Previous posts in the Live Alive series can be found here.
It is a beautiful wintry morning here in Western PA . A light dusting of snow covers the rooftops and an icy wind is blowing through the tree branches in my neighbor's yard. Fall is cold today!
In fall there's a beautiful wave of death in the changing and falling leaves. We enjoy watching it, despite the knowledge that what follows are months of grey! But we rejoice in the spring, when the world comes back into color. The changing of seasons often gets me thinking about what nature can teach us about the spiritual life. In this case, the beauty in the dying, the waiting, and the renewal, makes me think about the role of death in the life of the person who is living alive.
I have some sorta bad news: when God makes you alive again with Christ, you aren't magically perfected. Like, you're still gonna want to do bad things and not want do good things. The fight is on not only against the devil from without, but against your own sin nature from within! I find this to be a big bummer, because I so desperately want to be able to worship the Lord in spirit and truth, to treat people around me right, to no longer give in to my selfish desires all the time, and to be rid of my ever-present pride. However, I also find this to be wonderful news, because as we learn to live alive even while the battle is raging, we get to experience what God is capable of doing in transforming us, we get to lean harder on the work and power of Christ, we get to be refined and shaped for the eternity that we will spend with the Lord!
My alternate title for this post would be Serious About Sin. Alive people take sin seriously, and believe it or not, that is a GOOD thing. What do I mean? Well, Paul discusses this in many of his letters. I was going to direct us to Colossians 3:1-10, but since our theme verse is from Ephesians, I'll post some verses from that letter for you here.
Here's how I have experienced this part of the fight - taking off the old self and putting on the new - and how it relates to the changing of seasons. Every day, of course, we should remember we are new, confess our sins to God, accept the assurance of His forgiveness, and ask Him to help us live righteously. That is the daily work of putting of the old and putting on the new. But there are seasons where God really wants to clean us up good in a specific area. This can feel like death. You're going along AOK in your Christian life, mostly just asking God to forgive you for your usual hiccups and hangups, and then BAM! Suddenly the heavy feeling starts and seems to come from no where. The weight of a particular pattern of sin becomes acute and you cannot shake it.
Go with it.
The Spirit is at work in you to move from one level of alive to another. The leaves are starting to change colors and fall. It might get grey for a while, but the green of spring is coming!
Living alive means we are at war against the devil. It also means we are now at war against the sin within. But are we not more than conquerors through Him who loved us? YEP! Nothing can separate us from that love. God is love, and Love will see us through. He longs to see us go deeper and higher into the alive life. Putting sin to death is part of that incredible process!
And, boy, will we love thee Lord more as we let ourselves be pruned, refined, and restored! Engaging in the fight against sin in Christ makes the Gospel explode with greater meaning. We will feel and be more alive because the Good News will just keep getting good-er. We won't boast with pride, we'll burst with praise! We start saying things to God like, Really Lord, you knew all along about how deep I was in that and you still love me and refuse to give up on me? Wow! You are so good to me. Also, I think I need to tell a friend about this.
The fight will change you.
Fight on - the Lord is with you!
P.S. All praise to God for the words He's giving me each day. Guys, I rarely have much of a plan for where these posts are gonna go, but the Lord provides every time! And, special thanks to my children who slept in so I could get this posted this morning. I think I'll go make them some pancakes.