There are only two ways to live life. Your way. Or God’s way. There is no third way.
To put it another way, I can live my life the way I’m naturally inclined – in my own power, with my own resources, for my own agenda. The Bible says in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but at the end of it is the way of death.”
Or, I can live my life in a supernatural way – in God’s power, with heaven’s resources, and for his purposes. And here’s the bottom line: Until you make a conscious decision to trust and follow Jesus, you’re living life your way.
Paul put it this way in Galatians 5:19-21 (NLT):
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Be careful. Anytime there’s a “sin list” in the Bible, we run two rather dangerous risks. One, we’ll start thinking that if our biggest struggle isn’t included, we’re okay, or at least we’re in better shape than most people. And two, we’ll use the list as a lens through which to view and judge others. Paul’s intention wasn’t to give us a comprehensive list of what qualifies as really sinful. Rather, his intention is to show us several things about our natural way of life – about life, my way.
- When I do life my way, I wind up doing things that are uncharacteristic of God’s Kingdom.
- When I do life my way, I accept a temporary payoff – like pleasure, power, possessions, or popularity – and I forfeit an eternal reward.
- When I do life my way, I miss out on God’s best and settle for what seems good at the time.
God wants us, instead, to choose the second option. To live his way. And what does it look like when I’m living his way? Paul keeps writing in verses 22-23, a familiar passage to many:
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
When I’m living my way, the fruit is sin and death and destruction. When I’m living God’s way, the fruit is good and life-giving, both to me and to those around me. When I’m living under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, I’m loving, joy-filled, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. And now, more than ever, the world around us is looking for this kind of people.
The Spirit-produced life is a vibrant adventure, filled with wonder and meaning. And the invitation to live life God’s way is wide open to you!
Paul doesn’t just point out the difference between my way and God’s way. He goes on to tell us how to make the switch in verses 24-26:
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
Three big words of instruction.
- Embrace the cross. Remember where you died to the old life, where your sins were paid for, where sin’s power was shattered – the cross. Relish in the unfathomable love and immeasurable grace of God – keep on embracing the cross!
- Submit to the Spirit. Moment-by-moment, breath-by-breath, learn to walk in step with and in continual communication with the Spirit of God. It takes a lifetime to learn the nuances of his voice, and he draws us along every step of the way.
- Enjoy the good life.
I visited First Baptist Church in Dallas years ago and picked up one of their brochures promoting their Easter services that year. I’ll never forget the simple phrasing on the cover of that brochure:
You’re invited to life…
the only life worth living!
Indeed, living in tune with God’s purposes is the only way to experience the life God intends to give to every last one of his children.
Remember, you can do this! You can make a simple decision in this very moment. God, I’m tired of living my way. Help me to live according to your purposes! I embrace Jesus and his cross as the only source of salvation for me. And I submit my life to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, today and always!