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Arriving At “I Can’t”

Now we cannot… discover our failure to keep God’s law except by trying our very hardest (and then failing)… All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, “You must do this. I can’t.” —C. S. Lewis

Those who have taken the fleshly route know where independence from God leads:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like… (Galatians 5:19-21)

If we’re living life in the flesh, we can expect to experience:

  • Sexual sin—sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery
  • Addictions—idolatry and witchcraft (Witchcraft comes from pharmakeia, the word we now use for pharmaceuticals.)
  • Relational pain—hatred, discord, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy
  • Reckless behavior—drunkenness and orgies and the like…

Part of the Christian life is experiencing profound moral transformation through the indwelling Spirit of God. Still, for some of us, it isn’t enough to know that God’s Spirit is available to work in us, because we are afraid of falling back into the acts of the flesh.

Perhaps you feel like there is something more you should do. If someone would give you a to-do list detailing how to live a good, Christian life, you’d feel so much safer! The Galatian believers shared this desire—this is why they turned to the law, neglected grace, and tried to rid themselves of the acts of the flesh in their own strength. Sure, that seems like the natural thing to do, but it misses the point.

I believe Paul’s point to us is this:

  • Renounce independence from God.
  • Choose to live dependently upon the Spirit.

Author of Acceptance, Lord, I give up. I suffer from perfectionism. All I really wanted was to live this Christian life well. Now I see that even this desire—when lived out of legalism—is rooted in flesh. You must do this. I can’t. May Your Spirit usher me into abundant life. I quit trying and ask only that You would live through me moment by moment today, in a vibrant walk in Your Spirit. Amen.

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