Galatians 3:3 “Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?”

     You can start at something one way and end it quite another way.  God made us so that our spirits are always inclined toward His Spirit. When life ends, a man’s spirit returns to God.  Our flesh is another matter.  Our flesh, being born to death and decay is always inclined toward the religion of self justification.  Both flesh and religion come from dust and return to dust. “Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.”(Ecclesiastes 12:6,7)

   How is it that a person can start in the Spirit and end caught up in his own flesh?  We might just as well reverse the question and ask; how can a man start in the flesh and end following the Holy Spirit?  The answer to both questions hinges on choice.  We are free to choose how we respond to any situation.  We are as free to indulge our appetites as we are to live in the discipline of God’s Word.  It is in the thousands of little choices that the pattern of a man’s life is laid down.  Each choice is the outcome of a little bit of yeast in our heart that ferments our inclinations; “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” (Galatians 5:9)

     In Jesus Christ, we have freedom.  In that freedom we must make choices that reflect His rule in our lives. Some, so called, religious leaders require their followers(victims) to humiliate themselves in order to demonstrate their allegiance.  Is this a choice that reflects Jesus’ rule over anyone’s life?  Jesus clearly said; “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, . . .” (Matthew 20:25)  What bitterness and pain is left in someone who has been humiliated in that way!  Jesus has not been served but rather some petty despot’s bloated ego.

     Paul warned us about such false preachers; “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” (Romans 16:17,18)  How does a person become corrupted to such an extent?  Worldly wisdom tells us; “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

     Jesus knew long before our day that power is a drug like any other.  Some are addicted to it and like any addiction it progresses to complete the destruction of the addict.  Scripture tells us how this power addiction disease process ends; “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:18,19)  That is why Jesus demanded that His disciples serve rather than become little lords.

     Any one who claims to be called to lead in Jesus Christ’s ministry,  indeed any person who claims to follow Jesus because we all lead by example,  must keep in step with the Holy Spirit. The telling marks of such a walk is; “. . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22,23)  How is this done?  Scripture tells us; “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:25,26)  Keep your pride in check.  Do not pick on others, especially those you are called to serve.  Live for God, not trying to get what you think others have, whether that is power or money or both.

     To finish well means to finish in His Way not our way.   At the end of our days we all want to hear Jesus say; “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23)  A return to obedience to the Holy Spirit is only one decision away and it must involve the very thing the spirit of power addiction cannot tolerate – humility.  The Gospel Good News for a leader gone astray is that he is only one decision away from rescue; “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19)

     Praise the Lord!