REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, prepared by Pastor Jason Sato, was first posted on April 24, 2014. Jason, along with his wife Jessica, is currently serving in Japan as a missionary. Jason is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Flesh, Law and Spirit”
Galatians 5:16-18 (ESV)
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
Day and night are opposites. Wet and dry are opposites. The desires of the Spirit and the desires of the flesh are opposites. The flesh and the law are…opposites?
In v. 17, the apostle Paul is clear: the desires of the Spirit and the desires of the flesh are complete opposites. The desires of the Spirit actually keep us from doing the desires of the flesh and vice versa. This makes sense. But the next comparison Paul makes is rather surprising. Verse 18 tells us that being “led by the Spirit” and being “under the law” are opposites.
Spirit and flesh are opposites. Spirit and law are opposites. So flesh and law . . . are the same?
At first glance, this seems absurd. How can breaking the speed limit and driving under the speed limit be the same exact thing? How can someone who completely abstains from alcohol be the same as an alcoholic?
When Paul refers to the law, he is still thinking about the battle between faith and circumcision. The law is not just a reference to God’s law in general but the desire of some to justify themselves before God with their good works. So Paul is saying that the person who indulges in their sinful desires and the person who keeps the law in order to earn God’s favor are the same: Both are driven by their self-centeredness.
The alcoholic is self-centered; he cares only for the pleasure of drunkenness even if it hurts everyone around him. Likewise, the self-righteous teetotaler is self-centered; she cares only for her own reputation and reward.
But Christians are no longer driven by the fleshly desires. No longer under the law, those led by the Spirit are free to serve and love others with no ulterior motive. No longer driven by selfish desire, we are free to be concerned solely with glorifying Christ.
How is your sin a form of self-centeredness? How are you tempted to become more self-centered amidst your good works? Ask the Lord to fill you with His Spirit that you might be led by Him.
Prayer: Father, free me from my obsession with myself! May I walk in Your Spirit and reject the desires of my flesh that You might be pleased. May I do nothing for my own glory or name that You might be honored. I thank You that I can trust You to take care of me as I forget myself and live for You alone. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 2 Corinthians 4
Lunch Break Study
Sometimes our self-centeredness and self-reliance expresses itself, not in pursuing wicked pleasure or self-righteousness, but in securing our material needs.
Read Matthew 6:26-27, 31-33 (ESV): “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Questions to Consider
- Where does our anxiousness stem from? What does it accomplish?
- What reasons are we given to trust God?
- As we trust God, what are we free to do?
- Our anxiousness often stems from our material needs and fear of the future (“What shall we eat?”; “What shall we wear?”). Unfortunately, our anxiousness does not accomplish very much.
- Our Father feeds the birds of the air and He values us much more greatly than them (v. 26). God knows all of our needs. He does not dismiss them as unimportant and He is able to meet them (v.27-28).
- We are free to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Our unwillingness to follow God wholeheartedly boils down to a trust issue.
Reflect on your day. Were you tempted by the desires of the flesh? Were you tempted to build your own ego and reputation? Reflect on the beauty and grace of Christ that enables us to walk by the Spirit instead.