Beautiful, but Deadly.

Courtesy to Mathiole (DevientArt)

So many things in this world are aesthetically pleasing but potentially deadly. Brightly coloured plants, flowers and animals scatter the earth that could end our lives if we made direct contact. Often I marvel at these things in creation, beautifully and wonderfully made by my opinion.

They also come to mind when I consider the spread of the gospel. Throughout Paul’s letters in the New Testament he often warns new churches against sugar-coated messages. The genius that allows these messages to survive is that they contain just enough of the truth within them that they could be seen as plausible despite being spiritually deadly. We live in a time where “people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suite their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

I see these churches that include false messages and promises growing rapidly. People are drawn to them because they appeal to their passions. Often these churches grow faster and larger than those that preach the straight truth.

Why is that? Wouldn’t people want to hear the truth? The gospel is essentially offensive. Since “the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel”(2 Cor 4:4) we can often be discouraged by our efforts to spread the word in light of the growth in these other churches. But Paul urges that since “this ministry is by the mercy of God, we of not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:1-3).

In sadness I have seen friends committing their lives to Christ in these churches that have promised things such as healing, earthly comfort and wealth and on seeing none of these fulfilled have been disoriented, discouraged and essentially lost all confidence in our Lord. So I urge you, as Paul does in his letters to “always be sober-minded, endure suffering, so the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry.” (2 Tim 4:5). Be aware of the teachings in your church and test them against the word of God.

As an interesting aside, if this interests you, Cole Brown has written a short and relevant account of his challenge to his church. It’s called Lies My Pastor Told Me, Cole pulls apart these lies, often common amongst these churches, using  gospel evidence. Check it out, the e-book is free to download here.

He gives and He takes away.

Something that has really struck me over the past week or so is the combination of God’s sovereignty and human suffering. As I’ve started reading through Job, looking into common lies taught in churches and heard some bad news I’ve come to face the reality that God controls all.

Good news, or bad news first? Let’s start with the bad. Just a few days ago I heard news that a young girl, the sister of one of my old friends, suicided. I can’t say I’ve faced this before. I thought about writing a post about suicide, but what can you say? Not much in the way of practical methods or understanding in order to deal with it.

Here’s the good news: That’s when I realised what God had been showing me and teaching me in the lead up. I’ve been reading up on awful misinterpretations of the Bible and how these are used (very often in fact) in churches. I was planning a few blog posts on these. One of them, just to spoil the surprise, is the idea that “God heals those who have faith”. Without going into too much detail, this claim essentially renders sick people as without faith and without the Holy Spirit. Which is evidently wrong. It claims that the more faith you have, the more healthy you will be. But God doesn’t promise us any of this, in fact, many of the apostles (Paul and Timothy) were sick and were not healed despite their prayers. Instead of health on earth, God promises us spiritual health and that he will get rid of physical sickness and death when he returns.

“So it will be with the resurrection ofthe dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable,; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” 1 Corinthians 15:42-44a.

Secondly, I’ve been reading through Job. Job was this guy that feared and respected God, and was blessed with material wealth – he had lots of stuff, heaps of kids and was known for it. But get this, God says to Satan:

“Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”

Job 1:8

God suggests Job to Satan. And Satan’s response is he’s great and all ” But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” (v10). So God takes him on his claim and gives Job over to Satan: “all that he has in in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” (v12) So off goes Satan and he takes everything that Job has, his stuff burns down, all his kids are killed, his family is destroyed. He has nothing left but himself. And what does he say? Surely, he would prove Satan right.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Job 1:21

Strange, right? But it makes sense. All those things were given to him as gifts, he existed before them. They were given by God and thus, God has the ability to take them away. Not only this, but he praises God.

Job’s hardship continues as Satan plagues him with illness. Jobs friends come to comfort him but all they can do is sit “with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, for they saw that his suffering was very great.” (2:13).

That’s as far as I’ve read in Job, but I am just so grateful that God is working even in suffering. That even before it happened he directed my attention to these things. He has challenged me to praise him as Job does, because everything on this earth is an undeserved gift, that he can easily and rightfully take away.

Doubts, Questions, Queries, Thoughts…

Just because I know you’re out there, I thought I’d just remind you that the ‘Itching Questions’ tab still exists.

I absolutely love questions. Even when I can’t answer them, they open an opportunity for thought.

Don’t be intimidated because I don’t know anywhere near everything and I never will.

Don’t be afraid because my aim isn’t to cut you down but to draw light on your questions/thoughts from the Bible.

Don’t hesitate because you might learn something you didn’t know before.

Don’t hold back because getting into the depths of the Bible is something I find fascinating and I can guarantee it’s worthwhile.

So there, hopefully that’s reason enough to just ask away.

Everyone’s Religious: whether you like it or not.

 

To some this may come as a shock, maybe not to others, but it’s true: everyone is religious.  People often think of religion as a set of defining rules that guide life based on some supernatural power they call their God(s).

Check out the Oxford dictionary definition of Religion: “a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion.”

I don’t think one can go through life without having an interest that they devote themselves to. Even the atheist, they have devoted themselves to denying the existence of God, a sportsman has a religious attitude towards their sport, or a businessman has devoted themselves to growth and profit, etc etc.

Think about some of the things you devote yourself to, are they worth the effort? Or are they essentially futile and keep you busy while you live on this earth?

I was reading Acts 17 this morning and I was struck by how little humanity has changed, if at all. After Jesus ascended into heaven, his disciples took the truth to the nations. Paul, who was once called Saul, and he was “ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.” (Acts 8:3). He was heading off to Damascus to find “any belonging to the Way, men or women” to “bring them bound back to Jerusalem”(Acts 9:2) when he had a revelation, and became one of the most influential people in the Bible.

So Paul travels around, going into churches, starting churches and just telling anyone and everyone the truth offered through and in Jesus. Acts Chapter 17 records Paul’s work in Athens. So he’s arrived at Athens and walked into the Areopagus to address them. The Areopagus is the judicial body of aristocratic origin that subsequently formed the higher court of modern Greece.

“So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god’. What therefore you worship is unknown, this I proclaim to you.”

Acts 17:22-23

Paul’s picked up on all the things these people dedicate themselves to, many of which are man-made and some they can’t even name or know. He addresses Athens because “he saw that the city was full of idols” (Acts 17:16).

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives all mankind life and breath and everything.”

Acts 17:25

Paul reveals the real God, who doesn’t need us to help him out, who isn’t restricted to temples. A God who is the creator and the provider and the sustainer providing mankind even with breath. Is that not more worthwhile of devotion than an ‘unknown god’ or a material god? But why devote yourself to a God that has no need of us? Paul continues:

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for

‘In him we live and move and have our being’;

as even some of your own poets have said,

‘we are indeed his offspring.'”

Acts 17:26-28

Why should we bother following God? Because God created us with a purpose, he gave us life so that we should ‘seek God’. But God isn’t this abstract force, we are made in his image, ‘his offspring’. We exist because of him, so isn’t that reason enough to exist for him?

“Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Acts 17:29-31

Not only should we seek God, but there are consequences for your decisions. Because we are in his image, his ‘offspring’, we shouldn’t replace him with things he’s made. How ridiculous to think that a material object that God has created is more worthy of devotion or pursuit than the being that created it!

God has not just left us with no direction as to how to come to him, he sent us his son Jesus Christ (who is the man appointed to judge). He’s given us the opportunity to repent and have assurance, even through judgement, despite the fact we’ve offended him by replacing him with these inanimate objects. This judgement is guaranteed by Jesus resurrection. He is often referred to as the ‘firstborn among the dead’ (Col 1:18). Everyone will be judged based upon this decision. So what are our options then?

“Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this”. So Paul went out of their midst. But some men joined him and believed.”

Acts 17:32-34

A claim like this demands a response. Either you can see a vivid reality of judgement and a conviction of your offense toward the Creator and repent, or you can see this as the folly of ignorant and mislead people. Think about it. This decision has real consequence, eternal consequence.

So what have you placed where the living God of the universe should be? Or do you think He is unworthy of that position and you would prefer to devote yourself to the created, the mortal and fleeting? It’s up to you, but it’s not a decision you should treat lightly.

Remembrance

Spurgeon: the Remembrance of Christ.

Forgetting Christ: a fault in us all – we forget him because we are still sinful and because the things of the world are so near and heaven is so far.

Remember his person: we may not have had the experience of knowing Christ in person but we know him in spirit. Just as the apostles did, we should remember the life he suffered for us.

Benefits of remembering: Remembering Christ gives you hope in struggles with sin or when being persecuted for Him. In the face of death and judgement remembering Christ turns despair into joy – you are going to meet your God.

Aids to memory: The Lords supper should be a time of remembering what Christ has done for you. The Holy Spirit and God’s word, the Bible, are also aids for remembering Christ.

 

 

The Heart of the Problem

So I’ve started the 60in60 challenge, yeah it’s late I know, but I thought I’d just do a quick post every now and then on what I get out of the sermons. All sermons, for each day are available for download here.

Day 1 – The Heart: Mark Driscoll

Why do we sin?

  • Because our heart is riddled with sin. Religious people tend to think that they are pure and the world is evil. But Christians think differently, are hearts are evil and so too, then, is the world.

What can we do about it?

  • Behaviour Modification: you can change how you act but it doesn’t really fix the root of the problem.
  • Regeneration: Other religions are all about behaviour modification, but Christians are all on about getting a new heart.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees.” Ezekial 36:26-27
Christianity isn’t about dealing with issues by changing how you behave and fulfilling certain laws. It’s about getting a replacement heart, so you can start afresh and find joy and desire in living life the way it’s meant to be lived.

Religion Leads to Violence

I know it’s been a long time since my last post but now I’m on holidays and I have more time to put thought into what I’m writing. I’ve been working on a few posts about topics people find hard about Christianity. Things that become road blocks to faith. I don’t want these posts to be about me dictating what I think, although that’s basically what I’m doing. I want you to have a say, so I’d like to encourage comments and thoughts.
So my first installment is a question or concept that one of my closest friends often brings up in our conversations. Violence.

Ray Galea, a few years ago, gave the only talk focussed on violence and religion that I have ever heard. He addressed attitudes on this topic and what response Christians should take, so here’s my attempt to sum it up. Remember, comments are invited…

Christopher Hitchens, a super famous athiest, wrote a book called “God is not Great: How religion poisons everything”. People have often approached me with this belief, that without religion or conflicting beliefs in this world there would be more peace and tolerance. That religion is this ironic dilemma that campaigns for peace by creating conflict and violence.

Ray Galea began his talk by saying:
“Religion is inherently violent, intolerant, feeds racism, tribalism and bigotry and even if you’re not like that you’re guilty by association.”

So if religion kills, isn’t the best thing to do is to just get rid of it, all of it?

How do I respond to this? (How do you respond to this?)

1. There is truth in that.

Atheism rightly shows the ugly side of religion, the reality is, is that religion has a lot to answer for.

Romans 1:18 “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of the men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.”

God pours out his wrath because humanity worships the created instead of the creator. That’s religion. Religion is always about running away from God. Ultimately, ruling our own lives.

Romans 1:21 – “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

God hands us over to our own sin (including violence).

2. Christian religion is guilty too.

There is a big difference between biblical Christians and thise that align themselves with goernments and ideologies, despite the fact that they look the same at a distance. Just look at the crusades, the holy wars and the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre in France.

3. Are some religions more exposed to violence than others?

Put blatantly, yes. Ray Galea quoted from the Buddhist texts (ashamedly I admit that I couldn’t tell you where exactly) :

“If a child of Buddha himself kills he will be shut out of the community.”

And also from the Koran (Surah 95) 

 “Then fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them, then seize them and lay in wait for them in every stratagem of war.”

Now I’m not saying that this represents all Muslims, however, about 70% thought that 9/11 was justified.
Mohammad was a military leader and prophet, but Jesus is very different.
Yesturday at Bible Study, I was struck by how Jesus treated his followers even in the depths of betrayal and denial. In the moment that Judas betrays him in Matthew 26:50, Jesus calls him friend. He doesn’t condemn him and neither does he fight violently against those that have arrested him. As his disciples pull out their swords and one cuts off a soldiers ear.

“But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.” (Luke 22:51).

As Pilate interrogates Jesus before condemning him to death on the cross Jesus response is:

“Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”” John 18:36

Christianity is aimed in a different direction from other religions. It may cause suffering but that is inconsistent from the foundational teachings. Christianity is spread on a wave of hope and committment to the powerless, the sick etc. The only blood Jesus spills is his own.
Religions that are based upon a nation or on the possession of holy land or violent conversions all lead to violence.

4. Neglecting to good in religion.

The problem with the leaders of atheism is that they ignore the good stuff in order to win their argument. They present a slice of history. A biased, superficial reading and edit out a lot of recent research. “Religiously involved individuals are less likely to carry or use weapons, fight or exhibit violent behaviour” Galea quoted from a recent study.

5. The solution is not atheism.

They are happy enough to quote the evils done in the name of religion, but take a look at the three best known atheists: Hitler, Stalin and Mao Si Tung. Between these three they have executed around 100 million people. They lived with a worldview devoid of God. Without God there, there is no concept of right and wrong, is that not more dangerous?
What it all boils down to, where the problem really lies, is in us. The heart of the problem is the human heart. If it’s not religion, it’s ideologies and theories. Violence is found in every religion, simply because it is found in everyone’s heart.

So what does the Bible say?

Genesis 4: the first murderer Cane, is cast out and condemned.
Genesis 6: God unloads a flood because of the violence.
Just from these two references, which I encourage you to look up yourself, it is clear that God hates violence.

“The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates.” Psalm 11:5.

These words are too strong to be dismissed. At the core of his very being God hates violence. Throughout the Bible it’s clear that this is especially the case when it is against the minority, the powerless, in bullying, rape and in domestic violence. In Malachi 2:16 – “”I hate divorce,”says the Lord God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garments,” says the Lord Almighty.”
My mother when she was around 20 went searching for meaning. She had come to the conclusions that money was the problem and that peace would be found in a place where money was lacking so she went searching for truth in Fiji. She lived there for a few months and what she found there wasn’t a society of peace. Instead a world of domestic violence and suppression of women. At dusk she would sit in her hut (or whatever it was) and listen to the village women’s screams as their husbands beat them in their blind drunkenness. She told me that in their culture, that’s how the husband would ensure that a women knew her place.

Psalm 140:1 – “Rescue me, O Lord, from evil men; protect me from men of violence.”

God’s people cry out against it. Christians have the privilege of prayer. The knowledge that when we cry out to God he listens and doesn’t turn a blind eye. God, ultimately, is who will bring justice in this world. And that’s where our hope lies. It’s not our job to act on feelings of revenge and the like in an effort to balance it out, but we know, and often struggle to remember, that when Christ returns, everything will be made right.
Despite all this, the God who hates violence is accused of causing violence. Whenever, God reimposes his will on rebels, it always comes with a quota of pain.
Now I am aware of the wars that God fought alongside Israel in the old testament. But think about this. I’ll use the example of Canaan, a nation that for hundreds of years sacrificed their very own kids to their gods, and it is here that God authorised the only permitted holy war. God acted and sent his people to eradicate them.
violence is only violence when it is not authorised, when it is not proportionate to the crime, when it is not done according to justice. The thing is, we think we know what justice is, but we have violence in our hearts and that warps our perception. Christian’s recognise this and do their best to refrain from attempting to bring justice but instead aim to bring peace and to glorify God instead of being God.
It is the existence of Hell and the reality of judgement that prevents us from being violent with each other.
In Romans 12, paul writes, love your enemy, you don’t have to excercise revenge, God will.

But just think about this. The God who hates violence allows himself to be violently abused. From the moment Jesus was born, Herod tried to take him out. When Jesus preached his first sermon they had tried to push him off a cliff. Jesus knew he would be flogged and killed, betrayed even.
There is violence everywhere, people in the wrong place, at the time.
Violence is not a religious problem, it’s a human problem.

Mark 15:19 – “Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees they paid homage to him.”

Jesus suffered under the hands of men, he suffered the agony and utter humiliation of suffocation. He know what it’s like, he’s walked in the shoes of victims. But what’s really extraordinary about him, is that he didn’t just come to save the victims, but he came for the offenders.

Isaiah 53 (read it, seriously). At the cross, Jesus became the wife basher, the armed bully…..the list goes on. It was the will of God that Jesus would be punished for all of our violence.
He created a new community marked by love, a lack of violence, an ear for false teachers, gentleness and respect. As Christians it is our job to protect those that are powerless. The gospel has the power to transform these violent people into loving followers, just look at Stephen Lungu who has one of the most breath-taking testimonies I’ve ever heard. A man who was at the heart of a gang and became a follower as he sat in a church with the intent to set off the bomb he was holding. I recommend you read his book. It’s one of those transformations that reminds you why you are a Christian and of the power of the word of God.

So the real solution to the problem of violence is not to rid the world of religion. It is the new heavens and the new earth that will arrive when Christ returns. It is the restoration of justice by God. Preaching the gospel changes hearts. Pray for those that deal with violence and violent people such as those that work in prison ministry. And protect the powerless.

So have a think about it. I’d love to hear your thoughts, not so that I can shoot them down, but

Holiness in a World Where Anything Goes

Holiness: non-conformity

Today I’ll be heading off to Easter Convention which is like a big family camp that happens every year and they get all these great speakers in from every where to come and speak. This year I’ve been asked to help lead the yr 11 and 12 group, so its gonna be an exciting few days for me. When I get back I’ll let you all know how it went down.

This year the theme is….’Committment in the age of disposable love’. Don Carson, who is pretty well known in Christian circles, written like a million books. Then there’s Dale Davis, who is a Professor of the OT somewhere in America, and finally Simon Flinders, from right here in Australia, who is the Chaplain to the Australian Cricket team. So I’m really excited and thought I’d let you know what’s coming up. If you could pray that hearts would be changed and that the leaders would have energy and enthusiasm to serve these next few days.

“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.
The acts of sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissentions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law. This who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying other.”
 Galatians 5:16-26

Young people grow up these days with little understanding of what is right or wrong. Let me justify myself with some statistics…

Australia was reported to have the sixth largest rate of teenage pregnancy among developed nations in 2003.  5% of Australian babies were reported to be born to teenage girls, while legally induced abortions were the second highest reason for girls between the ages of 12 and 20 to get admitted to hospitals.

Crime statistics present that roughly one-third of all victims of violent crime are teenagers, between the ages of 12 and 19. Need I say more?

I hope that you can agree that this has developed from the ‘relativism’ I talked about in the last post. It has led to little fundamental agreement over what is right and what is wrong. As Satre once said:

“God does not exist and we have to face all the consequences of this. It is extremely embarrassing that God does not exist for there disapears with him all possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven. We find no values or commands to turn to”

Can we decide between right and wrong?

People who don’t believe in a moral authority follow how they feel when they make a decision. This feels right or it feels wrong. You know, the cliche ‘go with your gut feeling’.
But to be honest, feelings aren’t that reliable and change from culture to culture and person to person. Look at Adolf Hitler, he felt it was right to kill off all the Jews.

This world screams, ‘We are released from the shackles of religion and Victorian morality, we are free to believe what we like and behave how we want.’ It sure sounds attractive, doesn’t it? But are its consequences as desirable?

“for it is written:” Be holy, because I am holy.””
1 Peter 1:16

‘There is no truth except my truth and no morality except my morality.’
To be holy means to be set apart, to be different in a way that reflects God’s moral perfection in ones life. This is one of the hardest things for a Christian cos as humans we’re naturally conformist. We prefer to ‘go with the flow’, ‘follow the crowd’.

1. We Must Recognise Our Sin.

The purpose of moral law is to make us aware of our sin. In a previous post called ‘No one is Righteous, not even one’ I expand on this a little more if you’re interested. Following and perfecting this law isn’t what saves you, you can’t perfect yourself. Salvation comes through Christ alone in faith alone.
The passage above suggests that the church that Paul was writing to were becoming complacent about this. They had thought, ‘well, if we’re saved, and Jesus has got all our sins covered, past, present and future, then we can just sin all we want, he’s got it all covered.’ Paul corrects this and says that it does matter how we live.

Rotten to the Core
No matter how morally sound we present oursleves everyone is sinful and corrupt within. The recognition of sin is the first step to living differently.

A Grusome List

“The acts of sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissentions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
v19-21

Look at this list, by nature we are competitively selfish – sexual immorality, fractured relationships, pride. However, God doesn’t ‘grade’ sin, there is none more severe than any other.  And becoming a Christian doesn’t mean you are magically immune to sin

2. We depend on God’s Spirit

‘Holiness is not a self-help programme’ – Vaughan Roberts
We can’t make ourselves holy all on our own, if you want to become more like Christ, he is your call of help.

The Fruit of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit is what opens up a new lifestyle. ‘A vine does not produce fruit by an act of parliament. They are the fruits of the vine’s own life.’ It is the spirit that will make real changes within a person, not following the law like they are the keys to Salvation.

3. We Must Work Hard

So like I said before, being saved isn’t the cue to go on taking it for granted.
” So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the deasires of the sinful nature.”v16
Making the decision to live by the spirit isn’t easy, but its rewarding.
“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.”v17
Living as a Christian is a battel between two natures, the spirit and our sinful nature. Every decision, action and thought is a moral choice as to which side you’re gonna go.
Keeping in step with the spirit means to consciously operate alongside it, the choice is all yours.

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
v24-25

We need to live lives that reflect our decision to follow Christ. The Spirit works as we work. You can’t just sit back and wait for God to do it all, He works alongside us, giving us the strength to fight but we must supply the will.

The choice is yours, we can’t change on our own, follow the sinful nature or the Spirit.