"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Practice Makes Perfect

We all want to be good at what we do, right? Well, there’s a Bible passage that tells us how to be good at being bad.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:16-21)
Do we really have to practice to miss out on God’s kingdom? That’s what the Bible says here. For the longest time I was scared spitless about accidentally getting my name rubbed out of the Lamb’s Book of Life, because though I gave my life to God through the Lord Jesus Christ, I still tended to be that guy described above.
I mean, just start at the list’s beginning and I’d have to say, “Yup, that’s me,” to many(too many) of those fleshly deeds. Did I practice them? No need to; I was already too good at my chosen vices.
Truth be told, I hated those things after I accepted Christ’s Lordship, even though I seemed compelled to repeat the same old garbage time after time. While my doing that stuff grieves the Holy Spirit within me and erects barriers between my Savior and myself, my problem was that I hated the sinner, more than the sin. In so doing, I played right into the enemy’s dismal little plan, immersing myself with condemnation straight from the pit of hell. Though I believed I was a blood-washed sinner, I was actually Satan’s chief ally in perpetrating my own spiritual suicide.
Enter the Cavalry, God’s eternal Word on His black-and-white steed, and the leading, double-edged sword was from Paul’s letter to the Romans: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1)
But wait, there’s more! Taking just that one huge promise alone is like eating the cherry off the top of the world’s most scrumptious ice cream sundae, then throwing the rest away. Break out your Bible, blow the dust off, and find that miraculous promise. Then read and digest the last part of chapter seven. Yup, that’s not a misprint.
Now that your momentum is up, push through to all of chapter eight.
Read it again.
Now throw on the brakes and digest the individual verses. Sure it’s slow-going, and hard work, and maybe even makes your brain hurt. But whadidja expect? Remember, this is God’s eternal Word!
If you ever want to end your painful cycle of self-condemnation, which is really Satan’s condemnation, you can’t ignore God’s number-one weapon, His double-edged sword.
Then, practice, practice, practice, refusing the enemy’s condemnation, until godly living becomes as second-nature as the works of the flesh used to be.

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