By Rev Don Rivers
We all have seen the cartoon with the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. I am sure we have all at one time or another been confused about which one to follow. We know what is right and want to do the right thing, but there is still that voice in there that tells us we can do what we want. The struggle that challenges each one of us. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
It is no secret that many think the rules exist in racing as guidelines. Nothing is wrong until you get caught. Many have said, “It isn’t cheating if you don’t get caught.” Well that’s not true. As much as we would like to get away with something, have an advantage over others, we still have our own conscience to deal with. We may try to rationalize it away but the fact remains, we know what we have done.
One of the results of acting that way is a lack of peace in our lives. We can never relax. We always have to concern ourselves with getting caught. We are always on the lookout for those who are watching us. We live our life looking over our shoulder wondering who is watching.
Our life in Christ should be one where we don’t have to keep looking behind and wonder if someone saw us do something wrong. We should be confident that our motive for everything we do is done with integrity and honesty. Everything we do should be done in a way that would please God.
I must confess, like everyone, there are some areas of my life that need some work. When I receive an email and it starts out saying that they saw the pace car somewhere I immediately think about how I was driving and whether I was polite and gracious. There are many times I would like to get even with a driver who drove in a way that bothered me or put me in danger, but I must remember that getting even isn’t a fruit of the Spirit, self-control is.
We have these two natures in us. The second one appears when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. The first is there, in us since the fall of Adam. We are predisposed to be selfish and we try to manipulate every situation to our advantage. We want to satisfy ourselves without any thought of what is best for those around us. You can see it even in young children; we have to teach them to share, tell the truth and be nice to others.
When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus in John’s Gospel, he talked about being born again, a spiritual birth. We all have a physical birth, but this spiritual birth is when we acknowledge the fact that we are sinners and ask God to forgive our sins and accept the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. We invite the Holy Spirit into our lives to guide and direct us in the ways of God. The conversation is in John 3, verses 1-19, I encourage you to read it. In it you will find the familiar passage John 3:16.
John 3:16-17; (New Living Translation) “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”
This conversation is the basis of how we understand the new life we have in Christ. It also helps us to understand the battle that rages in us between good and evil. If we have accepted Christ there are two natures, our old one of sin and our new one of the Spirit. As I spoke before about the how God prunes us and shapes us into the person he created us to be, this process plays out in our lives as a struggle between what we were and what we are in Christ.
Let me ask you, are you complete? Have you had both a physical birth and a spiritual birth? If you have, you know the internal struggle we face. If you haven’t there is no time like the present to ask God for forgiveness. We are always available to help you with that decision, call on us and we can help.
Think of trying to stretch your car to the end of the race? Avoiding the pit stop and hoping you had enough to make it. Sometimes we don’t make it. Sometimes we fall short of the finish line. We need to take the proper steps to finish the race in such a way as to win. We need to make the right adjustments in our lives.
For some, we think we can just forgo the decision and not participate in this spiritual birth. We think we can just do our best and try to be good people and that will be good enough. It won’t, if we do not accept Christ, we are destined to destruction. Our sinful nature will lead us down a road that makes life meaningless. We will wake up one morning and regret the path we took and wonder if there is still a way out. Our only hope comes from accepting Christ and securing victory over the struggle.
Romans 6:12-14, (New Living Translation); Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.
Living without the anxiety of looking over your shoulder is a wonderful blessing. Getting there takes some practice. We have to overcome all those desires that are in us with the character of God. The Holy Spirit that now dwells in our heart will help us learn what decision is right. Paul compiled a list in Galatians for us to compare the two natures so that we can understand to difference.
Galatians 5:16-22 (New Living Translation) So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
We need to change the direction our lives are going. If we stay on the path of self-fulfillment, satisfying our own selfish desires, we will find out sooner or later we missed the boat. We will find ourselves living a life without meaning or substance. We will find ourselves lost; looking for the turn we missed, wanting to move our lives in a different direction.
As I am know to say “If you woke up this morning and they weren’t throwing dirt on you, there is hope.” As long as you are still here there is hope. Hope that comes in the form a Savior, Jesus Christ. Take time to consider how many times you have to look over your shoulder and see who is coming up behind you, wondering if you treated them right. Accept the hope that Jesus offers and start your life down the road that leads to security, satisfaction, fulfillment and life.
Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! God Bless. Remember, that your prayerful support helps us continue this ministry. Thank You.