The book of 1 Peter 1:15-16 teaches us, “Just as He who called you is holy, you are to be holy in all of your behavior …Be holy for I am holy.”
You have been called by God to be a Christian. Because of that calling, you are to be holy. Becoming holy takes some effort. Accepting Christ will get you started on the path, but the process of becoming holy (sanctification) doesn’t just happen. You have to do it. No one else can do it for you. Of course the Holy Spirit is with you to guide and encourage you. But it’s up to you to actually put forth the effort to make it happen. Are you doing the work?
“What work should I be doing?” you may ask.
The obvious answers are to follow Christ’s examples and be obedient to God’s Word.
“I’m trying to do that,” you answer. “But I don’t know how good I am at it.”
Well, there’s a way to keep score — sort of.
Paul describes, in Galatians 5:16-18, the constant and difficult struggle and tension between our animal nature and our spiritual nature. Then in Galatians 5:19-21, he presents a list he calls “works of the flesh” and says if we practice such things we will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Obviously, it is in our interest to avoid these things.
Paul continues with a second list in Galatians 5:22-23 which he calls “fruit of the Spirit”. The things in this list are things we are to cultivate, nurture and encourage to grow. Then he says, “If we are to live by the Spirit, we must walk in the spirit.” In other words, our animal nature must not be allowed to control us — rather our spirit nature must be in control.
Paul’s lists are issues of behavior. These behaviors reflect our inner being — our willingness to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead. So, how are you behaving?
Works of the flesh: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lust, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envy, murder, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.
Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
You could make something like a score card with these behavioral issues. Then, on a scale of one to ten, rate yourself. How are you doing at minimizing works of the flesh? How are you doing at cultivating fruit of the spirit? Select the ones that need the most work and focus on them. Then, after an appropriate interval, repeat the exercise. Did you see improvement? If you did, celebrate it. If you saw no improvement in your behavior, redouble your efforts.
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