The Struggle to Maintain Purity (Part 2)
Such a repentant change can only take place when a person becomes concerned with spiritual matters. When a person is focused upon carnal thoughts, pleasures, and pursuits, he will neglect his greater spiritual needs. However, when a person tends to his spiritual needs, developing a concern for his spirit and its eternal state, he will begin changing his thought process. Consider Romans 8:5-8:
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:5-8)
When Paul writes, “So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God,” he is referring to those who are “carnally minded.” The person who is “spiritually minded,” who lives “according to the Spirit,” can please God.
Sin occurs when a Christian allows himself to think and focus on carnal concerns and desires. Consider the inspired words seen in James 1:13-16:
“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.” (James 1:13-16)
Sin can only occur when a person allows himself to be “drawn away” by carnal thoughts and desires. Spiritual thoughts and concerns will not draw a person away from God. Being spiritually concerned will not lead a person into sin.
How is a Christian to maintain a spiritual mindedness, walking according to the Spirit of God? The only way to develop a true concern with spiritual and godly matters, is to seek those heavenly concerns. (This may be one of the greatest challenges for Christians. Looking past the physical concern which appears to stand directly in front of us can be difficult.) The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Colosse, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2) Take notice that Paul wrote, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things above . . .” One can see a direct reference to a person’s salvation in Colossians 3:1. In Romans 6:2-4, we read, “Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:2-4) Since one who is a Christian was “raised with Christ,” he must, therefore, set his might, his thoughts, and his concerns on things “which are above.” To put it simply: A Christian must have concerns that match the concerns of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
What Does This All Mean?
Up to this point, most, if not all Christians, will agree that they must all seeks those things which are above. These agreeing Christians will then use their weekly presence at worship services as evidence of their heavenly pursuits. However, the reality is that a person does not have to have heavenly pursuits in order to attend the worship services. The evidence of true heavenly pursuits extends beyond a mere presence at the worship services. The evidence of one’s true interest in godly concerns will be witnessed every day in their lives. “Seeking those things which are above” will change the way a person thinks and reacts in moments of anger, in moments of lustful passions, in moments of tempted selfishness, etc.
For instance, two people who engage in sexual immorality clearly are not “seeking those things which are above.” When a man leers at a woman, he does not have his mind grounded on heavenly concerns. When women dress in a way to attract the lustful desires of men, they are not concerned with heavenly matters. Even our speech of suggestive innuendos and sexual advances will betray our thought process. When we become engrossed in fulfilling the fleshly desires in ungodly ways, we are not walking according to the Spirit of God.
When a person excites your anger and you respond with words sharpened with poison, you are not thinking on heavenly things. When a person is prompted to anger by an inattentive waiter, is his concern truly on heavenly things? When anger rises within the home, where is the pursuit of godly response? God will not judge a Christian for the way others treat that Christian. God will judge the Christian for how he reacts and responds to other people and situations.
When a person responds and behaves in sinful ways, at that moment, he is more concerned with himself rather than with God’s ways. Truly seeking those concerns which are above will enable a Christian to control his thoughts, words, and actions. Remember the words of Paul when he wrote, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)