The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"The Ball and the Beagle"
Frances and I used to bounce a ball to each other during our daily walks, attempting to make as many consecutive catches on one bounce without dropping the ball as possible (a challenging endeavor on uneven sidewalks and city streets). Now, we lead a beagle on a leash, attempting to control Ellie's inbred tendency to follow scents and sights. The potential energy of the ball and the potential escape of the beagle means that competition characterizes both activities.
The Apostle Paul knew something about such endeavors.
"I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air, but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection" (I Corinthians 9:26-27).
A "law of sin" presently remains in the flesh of born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Conversely, "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" indwells our enlivened spirits, through the presence of the Holy Spirit (Romans 7:23-25; Romans 8:2). The former law, left to itself, ever leads to unbelief and disobedience. The latter ever leads to faith and faithfulness as the Spirit of God works in us "both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). Our response to God and His truth determines which law governs our demeanor, thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions.
Paul referenced this spiritual challenge in terms of keeping his body under subjection. He recognized his complete dependence on the Holy Spirit to fulfill the calling. We must "through the Spirit" confront the impulses and inclinations of the flesh (Romans 8:13). However, Paul realized his vital role in the matter, a role of response to God's presence and enabling. Paul had to focus attention on catching the ball and controlling the beagle, as it were. Godliness does not just happen. The grace that makes it possible must be empowered by the Spirit, and actively received by the saint. "Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16).
We wouldn't want it any other way. God made humanity in His image, with consciousness, volition, and the capacity to freely respond to His presence and moving upon and within us. Through Christ, this makes possible a real relationship with Him whereby we avail ourselves of His enabling for faith and faithfulness. This includes our privileged responsibility to join Paul in keeping our bodies under subjection. We must catch the ball and control the beagle, or rather, we must arise in the power of the Holy Spirit to replace fleshly impulses and inclinations with the character traits of the Lord Jesus Christ. Through the Spirit we can do this. Through Him we must.
"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
Weekly Memory Verse
For we walk by faith, not by sight."
(II Corinthians 5:7)