The Difference is Choice
Chocolate cake and six-pack abs! TV binge-watching and bulging biceps! Indulging in sin and reveling in God’s blessings! In each of these pairings, the first does not lead to the other. Every action we take is a choice because an all-knowing, all-loving God gives us choice everyday. We celebrate this freedom of choice when it strokes our ego; we want to claim every good decision for ourselves. But when we fail or when life doesn’t go the way we expect, we look for a scapegoat, anything else to blame except the choices we’ve made. The truth is, we need to take responsibility for our choices. If we are continually indulging in sin, living in sin, why are we surprised when we find ourselves, seemingly, devoid of God’s blessings? We have a choice in everything we do.
“The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”
Paul goes on to outline the consequences of the two choices.
“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. 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!”
So the choice is clear and so are the consequences. This is not the first time this discussion of choices has happened between God and His people. In Deuteronomy while God’s people were still wandering far from him, he spoke to them about the choices before them and consequences of those choices. In chapter 28, God outlines the blessings that come with obedience to Him and the curses that come with disobedience. The message is the same that Paul preaches in Galatians thousands of years later. Moses sums up God’s message in Deuteronomy 30.
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”
Rather than the sinful nature and the Holy Spirit, in the Old Testament it’s called a “choice between life and death, between blessings and curses.”
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.”
The language, as it turns out, isn’t all that different. If we choose sin, which is death, which is a curse, then why are we surprised to not be living in God’s blessings? We pray for blessings, we yearn for blessings, but when we have the choice, we choose curses. Now, there is a difference between living in sin and sinning. We are all sinners and we will continue to sin. The difference is choice. Kyle Idleman made this clear in his modern day parable about slipping on ice in the garage as a metaphor for sinning. He wasn’t living in the garage choosing the fall on that ice every day, but he did see it, tried to avoid it, but ended up slipping on it all the same. When we see it, we should avoid it.
"So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace."
Sin separates us from God and curses separate us from blessings. We can’t indulge the sinful nature and then expect God’s blessing anymore than we can indulge in chocolate cake and expect six pack abs. These are opposites and one does not lead to the other, but Paul makes it clear what the sinful nature leads to just as he makes it clear what the Holy Spirit leads to. Paul continues to echo Moses words 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.”
“For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.”
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.