A clear indication of our failure to deal with bad attitudes is the presence of what Paul calls the acts of the flesh. These attitudes have created barriers that both block our experience of the love of God and keep that love from being expressed through us. Paul writes,
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. [Galatians 5:19-21NIV]
The characteristics of these acts of the flesh revolve around the fulfilment of self and have four clusters.
- Physical gratification such as sexual immorality or drunkenness.
- Emotional drives such as jealousy, fits of rage and selfish ambition.
- Mental conceit causing factions and dissensions.
- Spirituality to fulfil self, such as idolatry and witchcraft.
The antidote to these self-focused drives can be found in John 13-17 where Jesus uses many words and phrases to express himself as he describes receiving and overflowing with the love of God: Loving Jesus, obeying his commands, remaining or abiding in him, receiving and living by Holy Spirit.
This receiving of Jesus and his love inevitably leads to a choice. I must prayerfully examine the times I am tempted and ask, “What is it about my beliefs and feelings that I would prefer this over Jesus?” or, “What drives me in this direction?”
Can I trust Jesus for his fulfilment?