As someone who was raised in the Roman Catholic Church, Lent was one of those seasons in life where I was asked to give up some sort of bad habit for 40 days. As a former athlete, setting goals was a weekly occurrence, driven to reach new heights. However, depending upon what I gave up for Lent, an internal wrestling match began inside of me, Galatians 5:16-18. This spiritual test revealed if my faith way bent or broken.
For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and [d]pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and [e]seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit. 6 Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that [f]comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever]. 7 [That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law; indeed it cannot, Romans 8:5-7.
In the middle of a letter to the Church in The Rome, the apostle Paul opens up about a similar struggle going on inside of him, Romans 7. While Paul was a former religious zealot who fought against the formation of Jesus’ first century church, knowing right from wrong and doing the right thing is hard. Although Paul had good intentions, he reached a point in his life where temptation was winning.
So then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him. 9 But you are not living the life of the flesh, you are living the life of the Spirit, if the [Holy] Spirit of God [really] dwells within you [directs and controls you]. But if anyone does not possess the [Holy] Spirit of Christ, he is none of His [he does not belong to Christ, is not truly a child of God], Romans 8:8-9.
Subsequently Paul sets out in chapter 8 to highlight why this is going on inside of him. Whenever anyone attempts to change their life for the better, the sinful nature seeks to regain control. This is why changing your eating and exercise habits is so difficult. If this is your current reality this season of Lent, pray that the Holy Spirit enables you bend your faith back into shape.
By Jay Mankus