This is the second part of a series on differing worldviews, looking at a biblically informed vs. a secular worldview.
2. Works of the Flesh vs. Works of the Spirit
Another way to look at this is the works of the flesh vs. works of the Spirit. The works of the flesh are manipulative, self-centered, pleasure-seeking, based on situational ethics, and believes the ends justify the means. The works of the Spirit can be summarized as do no harm, do all the good you can, and love God. The Apostle Paul goes into a little more detail in Galatians 5:16-17; 19-21a, 22-25:
Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want.
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these.
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. NRSV
Do you want to be guided by God’s Spirit or by the flesh?
Faith in Jesus
God, through the Apostle Paul, tells us in1 Corinthians 2:14-15a:
Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. Those who are spiritual discern all things... NRSV
What Paul is telling us is that in order to receive this spiritual discernment from God, we have to put our faith in Jesus. When we are a sheep of Jesus’ flock, the Spirit works within us to give us spiritual discernment and wisdom. This spiritual wisdom is available to all, but only some accept it because they feel more comfortable with human wisdom. Why? Because human wisdom is something we can relate to more easily since it is of human origin. We have trouble with spiritual teachings because they are from God, and God’s ways are not our ways – they are foolishness to unbelievers, as Paul wrote. Yet as we get deeper and deeper into God’s Word, we feel more and more comfortable with it because of the Spirit’s work in us.
In conclusion, we are in the world, and we must be a part of it to survive. We can’t really separate ourselves from the world’s systems, flawed and unjust as they often are. We can work to improve them, of course, which is a noble endeavor. Nevertheless, when those systems and those values define us, then we have made them a priority over God. What we end up doing is substituting the world’s values, priorities, and wisdom, for God’s.
Jesus must not just be one priority out of many – he must be in everything we do. Jesus must define us, not our job, not our family, not our possessions, not our education, worthwhile though they are. Those things are good, but they must not be what our life is all about. When we have decided to follow Jesus, then we have true security and eternal life, as Jesus said in John 10:28-29:
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. NRSV
The allure of worldly things pales in comparison to what God has to offer. Once we have decided to follow Jesus and we leave worldly things behind, then our main desire will be a closer walk with Jesus. We will then have a more fulfilled life, and life will take on a whole different meaning when we are informed by the Spirit rather than informed by the world.