CHOOSE TO LIVE IN HOLINESS?
John Owen discusses a truth we must come to grips with: “In every Christian there is both ‘flesh’ and ‘spirit.’… So in every Christian there is a war, the flesh seeking to rule and dominate the spirit, and the spirit seeking to subdue the flesh.”
In other words, there is a pull within every Christian toward the enticements of sins as well as a pull within every Christian to please God with our lives. With such pulling going on inside of us in opposite directions, there is a continual war going on in our souls.
How we perceive what is at stake is vital in determining how we handle the ongoing war within us. Do we perceive what sin offers us as desirable? Or do we perceive what faithfulness offers us as desirable? In the depth of our soul, do we see the enticements of sin as something to run away from? Or, in the depth of our soul, do we see the ways of God as something to run away from?
My fear is that I—and perhaps you—sometimes get the feeling that sin is appealing and that the constraints of faithfulness to God are unappealing.
Colin Campbell helps me to put things back in proper perspective. He writes,
“Freedom does not mean the absence of constraints or moral absolutes. Suppose a skydiver at 10,000 feet announces to the rest of the group, ‘I’m not using a parachute this time. I want freedom!’ The fact is that a skydiver is constrained by a greater law—the law of gravity. But when the skydiver chooses the ‘constraint’ of the parachute, she is free to enjoy the exhilaration. God’s moral laws act the same way: they restrain, but they are absolutely necessary to enjoy the exhilaration of real freedom.”
The joy of parachuting comes precisely because of the constraints of the parachute. Could it be that the greatest joys of life will not come to us by trying to escape the constraints God would put upon us but in submitting our lives to His will?
After all, the One who calls us to submit our lives to His will is actually the One who tells us, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). The One who calls us to live in holiness is the One who promises us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). The One who tells us to obey Him is the One who declares, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).