“For I tell you, walk not in the natural but in the Spirit, for he who walks in the natural gratifies his flesh …”
As we walk this exciting, sometimes demanding, challenging road called “life,” we will come up against many discouraging times along the way. And there’s a reason why: it’s because we live in the fallen state of mankind.
I remember when we were believing for our oldest daughter to be set free from fear.
We were forced to see what was actually happening IN THE NATURAL–and yet we “called forth those things which were not, as though they already were!” Those were some tough “faith days.”
Looking back, I see how strong our faith was in our God! Even though the enemy was always there to remind us of her bizarre thoughts–and even though she kept an incessant grip on us, not even letting us out of her sight–WE STOOD IN FAITH!
Today our girl is powerful and strong in faith. She is the worship leader at our church, traveling the world, and giving the devil a bloody nose every day! HALLELUJAH!
Related: Say It and See It!
The Bible shows us all kinds of examples of when people walked in the natural instead of their spiritual promise.
Each time, those stories can be object lessons for us if we’ll let them be. From Adam and Eve, to John the Baptist, to Abraham and Sarah, to Peter–they all showed us how to (or how not to) focus on the natural versus the spiritual.
Let’s look at a few of these:
Sometimes we want to snub our noses at Adam and Eve for living so in the flesh.
But if we think about it, how many times have we disobeyed after His grace was extended to us? We find ourselves continually fighting the spiritual and yielding to the natural.
I think about the predicament that John the Baptist found himself in after Herod threw him in prison. Not knowing what his fate was going to be, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus a gut-wrenching question:
“Are you the one, or should we look for another?”
At first glance, you’re tempted to go off on Brother John.
“Are you kidding me, John? You are the one that baptized Jesus.” This John! This John that said, “I baptize with water, but the one that is coming after me, He will baptize you with the Spirit and with fire.” This John who proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” THIS IS THE SAME JOHN! And he’s doubting in the flesh!
I love how Jesus responds, “Go tell John, ‘the blind see, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life again, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them.'”
I can see John’s disciples turning quickly and heading back to give John the prophetic answer spoken–the answer that referred John back to the prophecies about what the Messiah would do once He arrived on the scene. Jesus calls after the disciples and says, “Yes … and one more thing. Tell John, ‘blessed are those who don’t doubt Me.'”
So yes, there is that thing called the natural. It’s what we see with our own eyes.
Peter also experienced it many times. There was one time in particular that stands out. On that occasion, Jesus was sitting with His disciples and He asked them, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
One disciple said, “Elijah.” Another said, “Jeremiah, or one of the Prophets.” And Jesus said, “But whom do you say that I am?”
Peter was ready. He said at once, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!”
Wow! For once probably in a long time, Peter got it right!
I can almost see him getting a little smug. “Did you hear that, John the Beloved? He didn’t say that about you! I don’t know; I might be coming up on the ladder of favorites.”
Jesus then begins to tell His disciples how close His time is drawing near. He says, “I’m going to be turned over to the scribes and Pharisees and I will be be crucified.”
Immediately, again, Peter spoke up. “Lord, that will never happen to You. No one is going to get to You and kill You!” Then here comes the rebuke! You know what Jesus said? He said, “GET THEE BEHIND ME, SATAN!”
Jesus is saying, “One minute you’re in the Spirit, Peter, and the next you’re in the flesh!”
In other words, “STOP TALKING, PETER!” Peter was allowing the devil to talk through him to discourage Jesus from fulfilling the whole reason He came to earth. One of the highest moments in Peter’s life was accompanied by one of the lowest moments of his life!
This thing called “living the spiritual life” is very real!
Paul said, “The Father God is all the while effectually at work in us, both to will and to do HIS GOOD PLEASURE!” What that means is that God is CONSTANTLY at work in us, doing and doing and doing! He never stops!
Philippians 1:6 says, “… being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ ….”
Paul further encourages us in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Look carefully at the word “work!”
Here’s the good news: There is not one perfect person on the planet! Thank God; none of us has gotten it all right. BUT, we are to “press toward the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” every day! That word “press” is a clue that there will be some W-O-R-K involved in this thing called “life.”
Another example of someone who got caught up in the natural is Sarah–our Jewish mother (so to speak). God spoke to Abraham and said:
“You’re going to have a son, and out of your seed shall all of the nations of the earth be blessed.”
But then, nothing happened.
All of a sudden one day the angel of the Lord appears to Abraham (scholars believe it was actually the Lord Himself), and He is going to share about what is going to happen to Sodom and Gomorrah. But, before He does, He says to Abraham:
“You and Sarah are going to have a baby boy by this time next year.”
Abraham was almost speechless, but Sarah! She is behind the tent, behind the tree, or somewhere else. She’s hidden. She overhears this conversation, and the Bible says, “She laughs.”
Her response to this news as she began to talk to herself was, “Shall I have such great pleasure at my age?” Then the Angel said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh?” Sarah responded (in the natural–and also lying, so definitely in the natural), “I didn’t laugh!”
But the Lord said, “Yes, you did!”
That would be a bad predicament to find yourself in–to have GOD tell you that you lied. I don’t know about you, but I have definitely had times when I have found myself vacillating between what God said and what things looked like in the natural.
Nevertheless, when those times come–and they will–that’s when we grab hold of faith, hold on as tight as we can, and DO NOT LET GO!
You can see your natural transformed to match your spiritual promise too!
It just takes faith (the size of a mustard seed), grit, determination, and perseverance to keep believing what God has said! Don’t give up! Your miracle is just around the corner, if you’ll walk in faith and the Spirit!
Are you walking in the natural or the spiritual today? If you’re focusing on the natural, won’t you join me in ‘setting your mind on things above, where Christ is?’ Leave a comment below!