The Discipline of Living in the Spirit

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

Dramatization. Not your author!

I have never actually sat down and watched What Not To Wear on TLC. It is, I believe, one of a hundred or so “fashion reality shows” which have captured the TV-watching world’s attention. My very limited understanding of it is that the hosts and fashion consultants on the show invade the home of a poor, unsuspecting person whose friends have sold him or her out and throw away all the old clothes in his or her closet which constitute clear fashion risks. When you think about it, it is a pretty humiliating process to have your friends hate your clothes so much that they put you on national television to get you to change. Come to think of it, I suspect my teenage daughters would love a shot at my own closet for this very purpose (dads can be so very uncool).

But the truth is, we all have worn things in the past which we would be thoroughly embarrassed to wear today (e.g., take a look at the wedding pictures of anyone married in the 70s or 80s). To put those things on today and be seen in them would be, well, pretty horrible. This, I believe, is a near-perfect illustration for the discipline of living “in the Spirit”.

But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Colossians 3:8-10

Paul talks about this discipline of living in the Spirit. In this passage, He takes a stroll through our Spiritual closets filled with “old stuff” and says, “throw this away”, “get rid of that”, and “never wear that again”. Paul recognizes that there are some old ways about us, some things that fit our old nature just fine but that look completely ridiculous on us now, and we need to just get rid of them. In their place, we need to don the clothes that fit our new nature. We need to “wear” things that allow the Spirit Who lives in us to shine through. It is not changing our behavior in order to be a Christian, it is changing our behavior because we are a Christian. It is simply putting away our old ways and taking on the look that the Spirit of God portrays through us.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

As embarrassing as the process can be sometimes, you have to admit, the new look is worth pursuing. It suits you. It is a great look for you (and for Christians everywhere).

© Blake Coffee

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2 responses to “The Discipline of Living in the Spirit”

  1. Barbara Duffield Avatar
    Barbara Duffield

    One major difference I’m grateful for – Christ (and Paul) are gentlemanly enough to offer their suggestions to us and allow us to choose the time and place when we realize the need to make the change. I’d hate to have my flaws and sins aired on national tv. It’s hard enough to look at myself in the mirror and see them!

  2. Mary McKinzie Avatar
    Mary McKinzie

    Wonderful and deeply meaningful post, Blake!
    When I took on this awesome existence, that of yearning for the discipline involved while living in the Spirit, my most sincere burden was and remains helping others who are floundering in confusion. This task sometimes seems overwhelming because those raised in the Church, who’ve made a profession of faith, who are basically good people going about Church work…well, they just don’t get it. I identify with them, having been there myself. They don’t understand they are limiting the blessings of God by leaving the Holy Spirit subdued and completely out of the equation…yes, out of their decision-making processes in life. In our fast-paced world, they often struggle beneath a cloud of busy-ness, guesswork, self-empowerment or control which ultimately brings disappointment, hurt or possibly some sort of short-term delusional happiness. If and when they pray a quick prayer for direction, their prayers have been voiced yet they ignore the fact that they feel they’re really not getting any higher than the ceiling, so they continue on in “good faith.” The very essence and significance of why Jesus said He wouldn’t leave us alone escapes them and they proceed forward as if alone, moving at their own pace and in their own strength thus facing surprise in the outcome of their actions. They fail to see these as the results of their own pursuits and then are totally oblivious to the fact that these results become the avenues to future blessings only by the Grace of God. The cycle continues and if they do not heed the Holy Spirit’s involvement, the situations worsen to that point in time where God will get their attention and finally they ultimately choose right or wrong, light or dark, totally God or Satan. God is always giving us yet another opportunity to tap into one of our most valuable resources…that of His Spirit interacting with us and guiding us. Along with Him, we also have the Bible as well as our fervent prayers. God presents the trials in our lives to fit our life perfectly and He desires our submission to His Spirit within. When our desire is to live in the Spirit, it is so much more than the mere posession of the Spirit. Our desires are only met with His desires through a disciplined lifestyle of submission. Seeking His face and residing with Him, we become one and He brings solutions and happiness to our life.

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