The Bible says that I am to “by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the flesh” (Romans 8:13b) so that I may live. I used to think that that was just the things that are “sinful”, meaning all the negative rules that people consider to be part of the Christian religion…. you know, don’t lie, don’t cheat, etc. etc.. I’m not so sure anymore.The fact is that I am supposed to be living a life that is focussed on God. God really is worth all the effort, but it’s often easier to focus on immediate pleasures; ones Religious people often think are sinful (like sex, drugs, etc.) and some that they think are okay (reading, thinking, playing games) and things that are in the grey area (movies, video games, music etc,).
It seems that in Romans 8 though, Paul has a different idea entirely. We are alive to the Spirit and dead to the flesh. This isn’t a wacky desire to have ecstatic Spiritual giftings, but rather a desire to live towards the one the Spirit testifies to, Jesus Christ. It’s a fairly simple thing, when I spend time on something, is it trying to gratify my desire for more of Jesus, or is it something that is simply making my flesh a little happier? One is a good idea, the other is a bad idea, but in practice they might look like the same act.
For example, I write this blog so that hopefully a gorgeous redhead or blonde supermodel Christian will happen upon this blog and fall in love with me: bad idea. I write this blog in the hope of making people love Jesus more: good idea (even if there’s a side effect of someone falling in love with me and us going on to glorify Jesus in a married life). Different goals, same act, but if the goal is wrong it’s a deed of the flesh. If the deed springs from a love of something other than Jesus, it needs to be crucified, it’s distracting from the real goal. I can’t afford it.
Getting more of Jesus in my life, making my life reflect more of Christ, and making others actually think Jesus is really awesome, is going to take everything I’ve got (and judging by some who read this blog, I have an uphill battle). doing good stuff for any reason other than that means I have less with which to seek Jesus, so I can’t afford it.