Our most basic desire as a human is to survive. That is normal. God gave us that desire so we wouldn’t fall off of cliffs and run out in front of trucks on the highway. The enemy must have known that about us. He must have known that when we were poisoned by the bad fruit of laws and lists and comparisons and judgment we would immediately desire stuff we didn’t already have. The Bible calls this coveting.
Before the fruit poaching incident Adam and Eve had everything they needed. The serpent convinced them that God was holding something back. Then their “eyes were opened” to performance and evaluation. They immediately went into hiding and took matters into their own hands to “cover themselves” with their “righteous fig leaves.” God shows up and “covers them” with His “righteous clothes.” It has been the same ever since then. We still we live in comparison mode. We are constantly evaluating stuff. We judge stuff based on available information even when it is wrong or incomplete. We weigh the options and forecast the outcome. It is our fallen nature. The problem is when this desire for comparison meets the desire to survive it becomes selfishness.
God then gave us the Law of Moses. This was a perfect law that if followed to the letter, would result in a right relationship with God based on our effort. That wasn’t possible. God knew this and again provided righteousness from Him in the form of animal sacrifice. What the law did do was to magnify our inability to perform. Our fallen nature said “I must perform to receive.” It is a byproduct of lists and rules (the knowledge of good and evil). The perfect law highlighted our mistakes. It actually frustrated us to the point of crying out to God for a savior. “God save us from ourselves!”
Then Jesus…well, that says it all.
Today however there are so many who insist of self-effort and self-righteousness and sin management. In our fallen nature we still want to “help God” in some way. I guess it is noble on some level, but it is still the devil trying to force us inward instead of upward. Jesus takes care of all that stuff. He rescues us from ourselves. He is that good. When He moves in He brings power to change every circumstance. He is confirmation that we have the same favor with God that He did. We lack nothing in the Kingdom of Heaven. We have no reason for comparisons or evaluations. We don’t have to judge or be judged. We died with Him and now live His life so our most basic survival He takes care of. I don’t need to look at my neighbor and “wish I had what they had.” I no longer have a reason to covet. I have the limitless favor and resources of God. I am a beloved son. I am a powerful ambassador. Jesus in me heals the sick, raises the dead, casts out demons and multiplies food. How could I ever want what someone else has? I have it all. I may not “see it” in any given moment but when my “flesh” rises up and gets impatient, I remind myself of who I am in Christ and what Christ is in me. I no longer have to live in survival mode. I trust God with my very life.
The religious want to use passages like in Galatians 5 to terrorize us into agreeing with their idea of obedience. Obedience in the Kingdom of Heaven is to believe. When I believe I partner with the Creator of the Universe to reclaim what the devil took from us. That is my obedience. The desire for lists and rules and all that stupid stuff is just our fallen nature repackaged. Stop it! We are free indeed. I can tell you that when you get this, when you accept the Holy Spirit in your life, when you see Him work in you, when you sit on the couch with Jesus, when you see the sick healed, when you change the environment in your workplace, when you see miracle after miracle, when you know and feel and experience the love of God you will look like Jesus. You don’t have to try to be a better person. You are joined with the only good one that ever lived.
God put this thing in me to “explain stuff.” I don’t know why because I actually detest a debate. I would rather just give you a hug until you are swept away by the love of God. So to satisfy the burning “desire to explain” I leave you with the background above and this passage from Galatians. It is all from The Message translation. It is awesome. With a new understanding of our nature read ahead and “see” that God is good and amazing and in love with you. He wants you to be free and bear His fruit. You get to shed the chains of coveting once and for all.
Gal 5:16-18 My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?
19-21 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.
22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
23-24 Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.
25-26 Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.
It is so good to be free from the desire for other people’s stuff. It is awesome to know that God loves me like I am the only one on the planet. It is an amazing miracle to know that God loves everyone you meet in the same way. God is for us. Our flesh may forget but our spirit always knows. Walking in the Spirit is no more than agreeing with Him when He says “I am for you.”