Ever since Adam & Eve ate from the forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of good & evil, we humans have had an innate sense of good and evil. Eg. You help a blind person cross the street = doing something good. Eg. You use a cat for a football = doing something bad.
You don’t need anybody to tell you this, you don’t need a pastor to tell you this, and you don’t need the Holy Spirit to tell you this, because you know by your own conscience, your own spirit. Being able to separate the good from the bad is a handy skill now, Eg. just like when you’re picking good apples or recruiting a babysitter. It’s also the basis of every man-made religion under the sun. But your knowledge of good and evil does nothing to promote a life of dependency on Jesus.
A religious person who reads the Bible, will put on his own perspective, to learn what pleases God. They are essentially asking, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (Mat 19:16). Their line of thinking runs like this: “If I do good and avoid evil I will be judged to be a good person”. From a religious perspective, this makes perfect sense, perfect sense to the flesh. It also explains why so many people go to church asking: “What must I do?”
But there’s a problem. In the Bible you will find some good things that are bad for you. Other things are good for one person but not for another. And then there are things that used to be good but aren’t good any more. It’s almost as if the Bible was purposely designed to frustrate the religious quest for being good! It’s almost as if the Author (Jesus Christ) is trying to say, “Why do you ask me what is good? (Mat 19:17)”, because that’s the wrong question to ask, my friends.
The law is good and perfect, but it is not good for you:
The best example of something that is good yet bad for you is the law. Paul said the law is “holy, righteous, and good” (Rm 7:12). He also said, “the law is good if one uses it properly” (1 Tim 1:8). When a religious person discovers the law, his initial response is delight, because the Law again makes a perfect sense. Finally, some good instructions to live by! But when he tries to keep the law he finds himself breaking it despite his best intentions. He tries harder and fails again. Then the law – which is good – begins to condemn him (2 Co 3:7). Worse, sin which he did not know he had until he met the law, rises up and begins to kill him (Rm 7:10). Eventually, this person gave up, and stay in the bondage of living in sins, he gave up trying, because it does not work. The condemnation that devils accused him “call yourself a Christian, yet keep failing in sins”. “You will never be like Jesus, forget it!”,
Paul said the law is good but those who rely on it place themselves under a curse (Gal 3:10). How is this possible?! How can something that is good be bad for us? Is the law defective? No – it’s good! The problem is not with the law but your flesh. Your flesh is too weak to cope with the law (Rm 8:3). And it’s not just the law. Anything that is good will become bad for you once your flesh gets involved:
For if you live according to the flesh you will die… (Rm 8:13) …but your flesh is weak
What does it mean to live according to the flesh? And why is this bad for us? Every day the Christian chooses between walking after the flesh or walking after the spirit. It’s a mutually exclusive choice. We walk after the flesh when we rely on our own resources – our resolve, our abilities, our understanding. We walk after the spirit when we rely on His. It’s the difference between walking by sight or by faith. It is: Believe we are already Righteous to start with ! and the rest of our good deeds are just the bonus or the fruits, not the root. I do not even know when I do good, it comes natural.
Gal 3:11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “THE JUST (Righteous) SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”
Gal 3:26 For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
The problem is, walking after the flesh comes naturally to us. We’ve had a lot of practices from the moments we learnt from childhood till the day we were saved. “You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived” (Col 3:7 NIV). Before we were born of the Spirit, the flesh was all we knew and old habits die hard.
Eg. A person who used to live near a church bell ringing daily, even when he moved away, still he may hear in his mind, the bell ringing at the certain time of day. Eg. You used to be a caterpillar, but now in Christ you are a butterfly already, when the butterfly makes mistake/s and falls into a rubbish pile, it can still fly again and it is still a butterfly. Its fall does not make it a caterpillar again.
Sometimes in life you make mistake/s by sinning (consciously or unconsciously) but it does not change the saved person inside (Spirit & soul) underneath the flesh. You are still the saved person of Jesus Christ. You are the nugget of gold, the treasures that Jesus said in Mat 13:44 “…like treasure hidden in a field” , that treasure of gold will still be gold even if it is soaked or dipped in mud, Only that the mistake/s profits you nothing and brought bad consequences.
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. (Jn 6:63).
The supernatural and abundant life that we’re called to live can only be received by faith and experienced by walking in the spirit. This is why the New Testament writers repeatedly admonish us to put off the old ways of the flesh and put on the new ways of the spirit, as you were created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph 4:22-24, NIV)
We don’t put off and put on to become spiritual; we do this because we are spiritual, you don’t have to try to be spiritual, because you are already spiritual with the Spirit of Jesus inside yours. Everyone who is born again is born of the spirit. Start believing right, that you will behave right. Don’t try to be like Jesus, because Jesus already lives inside you. You only need to let Jesus drive you daily.
(Jhn 3:7-8). Since we are already in the spirit, let us walk after the spirit:
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Gal 5:25)
Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Good is not always good, nor Bad is always bad:
One of our biggest blind spots is we’ve bought into the idea that good things are good for us while bad things are bad for us. But this good versus evil logic is the fruit off the wrong tree. Where in the first place Adam fell. God did not want Adam to eat from this Tree because God knows His creation would not be able to handle the after effect of knowing the good from the evils. It gets us keeping score in a game that God isn’t playing. The real issue is life versus death. And if you sow to the flesh you will reap corruption regardless of what you do.
“Wait a second Pastor. Are you saying I can do no good walking after the flesh?” You can do a lot of good walking after the flesh! But it won’t do you any good. “The flesh profits nothing.” Live like this and you will be functionally identical to a moral sinner. You will miss walking in the Holy Spirit, you will miss the opportunities to reveal the kingdom of God supernaturally. There are so many supernatural things that the Holy Spirit can bring you and show you and profit you. Instead, you will be acting like a “mere man” (see 1 Cor 3:3).
Jesus didn’t suffer and die to make sinners good but to make the dead live. Christ is in you and He is your life. When you walk after the flesh, you are acting like the dead man you used to be. You are wasting your life in dead-ish pursuits. You can spend all your days doing good works but none of it will result in praise to your Father in heaven because they are your works and not His. You may feel like you’re making a mark but in reality you’re just trying to glorify your own self, instead of glorifying Jesus Christ and His finished work for you.
Sadly, this is exactly how many Christians choose to live. Because, it never occurs to them that walking after flesh can also bring death.
Here’s a simple test to find out:
Which of the following works of the flesh gives you greater concern as a Christian?
1. Doing something bad in a moment of rash passion, or
2. Wasting my life doing my good works that God has not prepared for me to do.
I suspect more people are fearful of (1) doing something bad in a rash moment than (2) they are of wasting their lives doing good. But a Christian who, in a momentary loss of sanity, fools around with “bad” sin, may be more likely to come to his senses than one who has been dulled by years of good service done in the flesh. I am not encouraging you to do bad things. I am discouraging you from walking after the flesh even if what you are doing is good. What seems right to you will in the end lead to death.
It’s time we truly discarded the forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil, and instead, got our nourishment from the Tree of Life which is Christ Jesus. Our innate tendency to judge ourselves as good or bad based on the good or bad things we are doing, is doing nobody any good at all.