Daily Devotional

Live by the Spirit

by Simon Whitton

What does the Scripture say?
“Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."
Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift,
but as an obligation.
However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked,
his faith is credited as righteousness.

Romans 4:3-5 (NIV)

Christians largely understand that salvation is a result of faith, not a result of being good. This has often been a radical concept throughout history; but thankfully most Christians today understand that this is the only way to attain heaven. We are justified by faith, we are not justified by keeping the law.

After accepting Christ by faith, and joining a 'saved by faith' church, many seem to forget the foundational principle which gave them new life. It may be 'brought out of the drawer' for evangelic purposes, but it otherwise has little relevance to their faith. Instead, the law becomes increasingly important, as they strive to meet the high standards of the Bible, their church and fellow believers.

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
Galatians 3:2-3 (NIV)

The problem is that as Christians we continue to sin and break the law. Sin is frustrating, we want to be good, we try to be good, but we find ourselves saying and doing things which break God's law.

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.
Romans 7:18-19 (NIV)

The issue is: how do we deal with the sin in our lives?  Alarmingly, the response by most Christians appears to be, 'try not to sin'. The problem with this approach is that it plays right into the hands of our flesh.

All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."
Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because,
“The righteous will live by faith."

Galatians 3:10-11 (NIV)

Jesus was not crucified so that we may only have righteousness when we die. He died so that we may live in righteousness, which is also received by faith, and causes us to live by and be led by the Spirit.

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit,
and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.
They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

Galatians 5:16-18 (NIV)

You can pick up your shovel and work on that mountain of sin in your life as hard as you like, but in the end, it's a little faith that throws a mountain of sin into the sea. It's faith that pleases God, not striving to be good like the Pharisees. It's faith that sets you free and is rewarded by God.

Turn to the Lord with the sin in your life. Come to Him with no excuses except the blood of Christ. He has nothing but compassion for those who struggle with sin and come to Him with faith. Then walk by the Spirit as one who knows they are righteous and approved by God, and watch how your sin nature dies and life by the Spirit thrives.

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