Have you ever driven somewhere either in your own town or somewhere else and completely dependent upon a GPS to get you where you needed to be? It's amazing how dependent of GPSs we've grown to be as a generation. I for one am VERY thankful for the creators of GPS!!! And then you have those who prefer Apple Maps, Google Maps, Garmin, TomTom (remember those?), and the list goes on... No matter which one, we simply get in the car, tell the device where we need to go, and wherever she (mine is Siri ;) tells us to turn, we do it. It's like she owns us for a little while.
When I read this section of Paul's letter to the Romans I think about the two options for GPSs we have in our lives--the flesh and the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.
10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.
11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.
13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
For Paul, there are only 2 different mind-sets (or GPSs) only 2 different thought patterns, and they are opposites. Your mind is either controlled by the Spirit or the sinful nature.
Remember Paul is talking to Christians, who have the Holy Spirit. But even Christians struggle with which voice to listen to. Do I listen to my flesh and do what my flesh is naturally calling me to do? Or should I listen to the Spirit.
Who should control my decisions, my words, my actions?
We would naturally want to say "the Spirit." But is it really the Spirit who is telling us where to turn in life or are we depending on our own brain, logic, desire to please, desire for popularity or success?
Paul followed the voice of the Spirit in his life. It led him to places where he never thought he'd go, it led him to speak words he once didn't believe was truth, it led him to people that he once hated. It led him to be shipwrecked, inprisoned multiple times, kicked out of cities, beaten, and left for dead at time.
Because he followed the voice of the Spirit in his life, the Spirit continued to speak to Paul, directed his path, gave him purpose, and shared with him where to turn next.
God of grace and mercy,
Help me to shut the voice of my flesh and listen to the voice of the Spirit
Help me discern the Spirit's voice in the midst of so many voices that come my way each moment, especially my own.
Forgive me for mistaking my own voice for yours.
Lead me to places and solitude where I can focus on your voice. Yours alone.
I want more of you, Lord.
Speak Holy Spirit, I am listening.
And give me the boldness to follow your direction. Amen.
The GPS called flesh will give us instructions for us to be self-absorbed, self-centered, and pleasure seeking. It will direct us to things that turn us away from God, that engage our minds and our bodies in sin.
However, when the Spirit is our GPS, He will focus us, our minds and bodies, on what pleases God and will give us the power to turn off anything else. He gives us power over the flesh and its limitations.
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine
~Oceans by Joel Houston