Don’t Let Yourself Drift

The differences among Christians are innumerable. The Church is made up of all types of people with all kinds of personalities, wirings, giftings, strengths, and weaknesses. However, we all, without exception, have two things in common: 1) we long to know Jesus more deeply, and 2) we oh-so-easily drift away from him.

Though the Spirit has produced rivers of living water in our hearts (John 7:38), a fleshly current still rushes within us, always threatening to sweep us away from the One we love. The purest part of our being, which has been made alive with Christ, longs to enjoy and glorify God in heartfelt worship. But we still carry around in our partially-redeemed-being a part of ourselves that has been corrupted by sin (what the Bible calls “the flesh”), and it is this part of us that never ceases to entice us away from Jesus. Our flesh wages constant battle with our spiritual nature, attempting to deceive us into believing the comforts and thrills of the world are superior experiences to the pleasure of fellowship with God. There are no breaks in this battle. It is constant. It is enduring. It is relentless.

But, you guys, we are not powerless victims caught helplessly between the conflicting forces within us. I think that’s sometimes how we Christians view our experience. We envision the Spirit and the flesh going at it while we spectate from the sidelines. We cheer on the Spirit from a distance. We hope he will get the win and squash our foe, that pesky flesh. But at the end of the day, that’s all we do . . . hope. Don’t get me wrong; hope, defined rightly, is a good thing and a foundational aspect of the Christian life. The Bible is filled with hope-language. But 1) Gospel hope is not like gambling. It’s not wishing with great uncertainty for a good outcome. Gospel hope is longing for the outcome that you are certain will come. And 2) Resisting our propensity to drift away from a worshipful love of Jesus isn’t a hope-thing. It isn’t passive; we can’t just “wait on God” to stop our drifting. It is an active work we must do, by the power of the Spirit that God has given us. Our hands are not tied. We are not helpless. We are empowered by the very Spirit of God to resist the rushing current of our flesh and to cling tightly to the Rock of Ages.

Every day, you and I face the temptation to drift. We’re tempted to indulge the flesh, keep our Bibles shut, work ourselves into an anxious frenzy, neglect prayer, chase after power, position, and praise. In a million and one ways, our flesh is always attempting to lure us into situations that strain our fellowship with God. And it often succeeds, doesn’t it? Be honest. How frequently do you find yourself raising your white flag at the first hint of fleshly resistance? I do more frequently than I’m courageous enough to admit. So quickly I find myself loosening my grip on Jesus as I feel the current of carnal desires starting to yank me adrift. “What use is it? It doesn’t look like the Spirit’s gonna be swooping in to save me. It’s too hard to keep holding on. I can’t do it. I can’t resist.”

So stupid—so, so stupid! As a new creation in Jesus who is indwelled and empowered by the Holy Spirit, I can resist! You can, too! We can, when we’re tempted to drift, turn our face to Christ and our back to the world. We can! We don’t have to sit helplessly and wait on the Spirit to swoop in and save us—the Spirit is already with us, inside of us, and his power is at our disposal. Do you really think the writers of the New Testament would repeatedly command Spirit-filled believers to resist Satan, the world, and the flesh if we weren’t able to do so? Do you really think they would, over and over again, command us to walk by the Spirit, abide in Christ, and pursue righteousness if we weren’t able to do so? No, they wouldn’t! The biblical writers knew they were writing to men and women who had been infused with the presence of God himself and were enabled, by his power, to fight the tendency to drift away from a heartfelt worship of Jesus.

We aren’t spectators in the battle between the Spirit and the flesh; we are the ones who must wield the power of the Spirit and crush the flesh! Every day when we feel that current starting to sweep our feet out from under us, we must dig our heels into the power of the Spirit and fix our eyes in the direction of Jesus! We must open our Bibles and prayerfully set our minds on the spiritually energizing truths of the gospel. “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” – Hebrews 2:1.

Brother or sister, don’t let yourself drift. Strive with all your Spirit-might to abide in Christ (John 15:4). If the Spirit is in you, you can resist the pull of the flesh and you can pursue Jesus. You can fight. So fight!

 

  • Lyle Nelson

    Great blog, Matt! Hard to carry out, but well worth the fight!

    Unfortunately, in addition to the Spirit and the flesh, there’s another player in most of these battles, and that’s Satan, who is always going to ally himself with the flesh. And whisper half-truths into our ear, such as “God knows I’m not perfect, so I can since once in awhile, but as long as I try to be good, and win most of my battles, He’s OK with that”. And since He does forgive repentant sinners, there’s a small grain of truth there. But all too often, we use such thoughts to justify yielding to temptation without fighting as hard as we ought to fight. God knows our hearts, including whether we fought as hard as we could have, and because the Spirit is with us, there should be few times that we yield to temptation, particularly because He tells us that He always gives us a way to resist it.

  • Brandon Burrell

    Amen Matt. Amen. God is good. He’s always there. We will spend eternity with Jesus Christ. He defeated sin, and He abides in us now. So we can destroy the sin in our daily lives, by the blood of Jesus Christ, by the power of His Spirit in us. Amen.

  • Chris Winkelmann

    Thanks brother!!

  • Alan

    “Gospel hope is longing for the outcome that you are certain will come” reminds me so much of whoever said, We fight from victory, not for it. If this journey is about the reality of us being like Jesus in this world, it won’t be about having a good theology of fighting, but of being good fighters. That in Christ we stand. Going on with Jesus is about likeness.

  • Amen! Remember when Peter asked Jesus to let him walk out on the water to meet Christ? Jesus told Peter to come and he was doing fine until he took his eyes off the Lord and was overwhelmed by the storm. That’s when Peter began to sink and called for the Lord to save him from drowning. Yes, instantly Jesus was there lifting Peter up and with a question of rebuke, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”