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Integrity Spirituality


Antidote for a World Gone Wild

The Path of Life vs. the Facts of Life
I have heard language on broadcast television that sounded like it was coming from a boys’ locker room. It seems the world has gone mad about sex and the media delight in talking about it, showing it, promoting it, and demeaning those who would rather not. And here we are in this space, talking about the Path of Life. Are we out of sync with the world, or what?

Though the facts of life have been re-written by a pleasure seeking society, the Path of Life remains the ancient way—the Spirit-walk.

The world thinks this way: Since we are only animals, the desires of our animal nature are the ones that count. In the 1960’s when the counterfeit counterculture emerged the mantra was “If it feels good, do it.” A decade or so later, our lives were lit up with this theology: “It can’t be wrong if it feels so right.” Feelings became the goal of the arts, the arbiter of all human relations, and the momentary and ultimate judge of all human endeavors.

The Bible has a term for the drives of the animal nature: “the flesh.” Say the phrase several times and it starts to feel slimy in your mouth.

Not Greek to Me
Before you go accusing me of suffering from some ancient Greek philosophy that the flesh is evil, please know my view is biblical. We are not animals. Our humanity was created without flaw and God said it was good, very good. But we fell from that grace at the first opportunity. Jesus came in the flesh to redeem those who were under the curse of death. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, now gives life to our bodies—yes, to our flesh. The worshiper of Jesus is empowered by a reborn spirit that controls a redeemed human nature, not a fallen animal nature.

Puberty and the Spirit-walk
In Jr. High School my vivid imagination took on a new theme. As a boy I fought wars and played cowboys, making mental movies about them. I roamed jungles with Tarzan, marveled at King Kong and ran in terror from Godzilla. Reading boy’s books I loved dogs and horses, fought the Civil war and World War II, and rode down the Mississippi on a raft with Huck and Jim. I sailed the high seas of my imagination and never once got seasick. I trekked through the great white north with Jack London and tried my best to make our annual 2-inch snow storm in Arkansas my very own Alaska.

Then, one spring, girls were blooming all around me. As they were changing, I was noticing.

The blessing of a highly developed childhood imagination became a curse to my teenaged Christian walk. I knew that Jesus said we must not look with lust on women, but how could we help it? They were everywhere and they were so interesting. I didn’t have the language then, but now I know I was discovering that I was a flaming heterosexual male—just what God made me to be.

I did find a helpful verse of Scripture:

Galatians 5:16 KJV
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

I was one impressive bundle of lust so I needed to know how to walk in the Spirit before I was ruined for life. I discovered that it was simple, really. When I was tempted, if I just whispered the name of Jesus, the temptation would pass.

Now, in my early 70’s, that method still works.

Stepping toward God
I said that the counterculture of my youth was counterfeit. The church is the true counterculture. We live in this world by the rules of another. We should not be surprised when our choices are different from those around us. Paul gives us a description of his world:

Galatians 5:19-21

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Is that the 1st century or the 21st century?

People today are shaped by the messages of our culture:

  • Live by your feelings.
  • Once you fall in love, you no longer have a choice about it.
  • Do whatever it takes to make you happy.
  • Live and let live.
  • Handle the truth carefully; lies can be useful or even kind.
  • You have a right, even a duty, to express yourself—let your feelings out!
  • You can’t really be expected to control your sexual urges—it is natural—just be careful.

To “walk in the Spirit” is to live by a higher set of rules: Christian discipline. When we live this way we are stepping toward God and away from the evil in the world.

  • Live by faith; feelings will follow.
  • God probably has a mate for you of the other sex; chose to love that person.
  • If God asks you to live a celibate life, use it to further His Kingdom.
  • Find joy in life; don’t settle for happiness.
  • Live responsibly; be respectful of others, treating them as you want to be treated.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Control your impulses; don’t say or do everything that goes through your brain.
  • Control your sexual urges; you can still walk down the aisle a virgin.

“Virgin”—The Only Dirty Word Left
In a society where the word “virgin” is sure to get a laugh, we are still called to walk in the Spirit. There is no other way to walk on the Path of Life. This is not a walk full of restrictions; it is a life full of opportunities! Paul’s paragraph continues:

Galatians 5:22-26 NKJV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
The world has gone wild and it needs as many sane people as it can get: We must walk in the sanity of the Spirit. These are the characteristics of the Spirit-walk:

  • Love. We must love: God first and others next.
  • Joy. We must pursue joy, for the joy of the Lord is our strength.
  • Peace. We must be the peacemakers, the children of God.
  • Longsuffering. We must endure this long dark night until the bright morning dawns.
  • Kindness. We must be renown for acts of mercy and kindness.
  • Goodness. We must be genuine, not phony.
  • Faithfulness. We must be those who can be depended upon for the important things.
  • Gentleness. We must live with a light and refreshing touch.
  • Self-control. We must be in control of our impulses and passions.

Aren’t these super-human expectations?

Far from being super-human, these things are our true nature, fallen in the Garden of Eden but restored in the Garden of Gethsemane.

How can we live this way? By the power of the Holy Spirit. When tempted to do otherwise, remember the method of a young teen-aged boy—whisper the name of Jesus!

This method still works.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2019 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved


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