We are in a super important teaching series on Sundays called Playbook. We are looking at the eight plays of Jesus, called the Beatitudes. We have to execute these plays if we want to become more like Jesus.
They are hard. Poor in spirit is the utter need and dependence on God. Mourning is deep sorrow over our sin that leads to repentance and change. Meekness is surrendering our control over to God. And we have five challenging ones to go. I can’t wait until we consider “pure in heart.”
The spiritual life is and always will be a struggle. Even as we start to put the Beatitudes into play, we discover that we have to find new and deeper ways to live them out as we mature toward being Christlike. We never “graduate” from the struggle until we graduate into heaven. Daily, we are reminded of how deep our pride and sin go. It’s normal. We all struggle. No one is exempt.
Last fall, we looked at the fruit of the Spirit. We are to rely on the Spirit to develop our character to be like Jesus. But it’s a struggle because our flesh is weak, and it’s those weaknesses where we are tempted. There is a never-ending battle between our flesh (our tendency toward sin) and the Spirit. That’s why Paul writes:
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. Galatians 5:16-17
Take some time to read all of Romans chapter 7. The great Apostle Paul, who God used to write the majority of our New Testament, struggled. Look at what this great saint said about his spiritual battle:
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:21-25)
Any of us could have and have voiced this. There’s not a day that passes that I don’t face how wretched, prideful, and sinful I am.
In the last six weeks, God has gently helped me realize how deep my pride still goes. There’s still so much selfishness that controls my life. I feel helpless to overcome it. I hate how it manifests itself and damages me and those I interact with. I want to change. Is there any hope for me and for you? Yes. Here’s how Paul answers that question:
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:24-25)
The struggle will never end, but growth toward being more like Jesus is possible by the power of God’s Spirit transforming us. Don’t give up. Stay in the battle. It’s worth it.