Do you ever find yourself doing something you really know you shouldn’t be doing, especially as a Christian? I know I have. I can remember the first time I really examined the Book of Revelation with an adult Sunday School class. I was disturbed by the imagery and predictions which were difficult to comprehend. When our class was finished with the study, I discovered that the community bible study I attended was scheduled to examine the Book of Revelation in the coming year. I decided I would skip the next year. I’d had enough of Revelation and even considered avoiding it for the rest of my life! Well, I voiced this thought to Jim and planned to lay out the next year of my community bible study. I made this statement in April and did not sign up for the fall study. As the summer progressed I could feel the nudging of the Holy Spirit and I was fighting His influence. I needed a break or so I thought. By the time August began, I knew what I had to do. I enrolled in the study I had taken such pain to avoid. In my words, God “had convicted me” or I had given in to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. It was a wonderful study during which I learned much and came away with a desire to learn more. How glad I was that the Holy Spirit had brought me through my human condition and enabled me to experience the glory of God’s Word.
There have been other times when I have ignored the guidance provided by the Holy Spirit. Just like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, I fall and give into temptation or choose to do what I want to do. God doesn’t force us to do things. I think of the bulbs that we see being offered for sale in the winter that have been forced to bloom by artificial means. We fool the bulbs into thinking spring has already arrived and we see tulips blooming for Christmas or Valentine’s Day. I bought some this year thinking I would be able to save the bulbs and plant them the following year, but they were damaged in the process. Mine had become soft and begun to decay. We try to play God and rearrange the natural process to suit our schedule but the bulbs suffer the consequences. God, however, allows us to make mistakes. With the Holy Spirit within us, we usually see the error of our ways and make corrections so as not to repeat the same mistakes. There is an ongoing battle within us as to whom we follow or what choice we make. Do we go the way of the world or do we follow the lead of Christ?
Paul spoke of this problem in Romans 7:15 & 17, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do … As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.” Christ saved us from this when He fulfilled our sin debt in full by His death on the cross. We are born again through water and the Spirit (John 3:5). We need to surrender to the direction in which the Spirit leads us. Only them can we avoid the pitfalls we face every day in the world. We must be in the world but not of the world. It is a conscious effort that we need to make by focusing on God, His Word, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.