The difference between the person who grows in holiness and the one who doesn’t is not a matter of personality, upbringing, or gifting; the difference is what each has planted into the soil of his or her heart and soul. So holiness isn’t a mysterious spiritual state that only an elite few can reach. It’s more than an emotion, or a resolution, or an event. Holiness is a harvest.
What does Paul mean by sowing to the sinful nature and sowing to the Spirit?
“Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh” (Galatians 5:16–17).
We sow to the flesh whenever we do something that strengthens or provokes our sinful desires. We sow to the Spirit whenever we strengthen our Spirit-inspired desire for holiness.
We can't change ourselves
We’ve seen that we can’t change ourselves. It’s God who changes us. But we participate in the process through faith and repentance. It’s important to see not sowing to the sinful nature and sowing to the Spirit in this context. They’re not rules or disciplines, reentering by the back door. They address our heart and its desires. Not sowing to the sinful nature is all about reinforcing repentance. Sowing to the Spirit is about reinforcing faith. This means saying no to whatever reinforces the sinful nature and strengthens my sinful desires. And saying yes to whatever reinforces the Spirit and strengthens my Spirit-inspired desires.
On Friday we will explore 7 elements of a reinforced faith that cultivates a love for God.
Adapted from You Can Change: God's Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions, by Tim Chester
Tim Chester (PhD, University of Wales) is pastor of the Crowded House in Sheffield, United Kingdom, and director of the Porterbrook Seminary, which provides integrated theological and missional training for church leaders. Chester coauthored Total Church and Everyday Church (Re:Lit), and has written more than a dozen books, including A Meal with Jesus.
- Video: 4 Ordinary Means of Grace
- Faking Fruit (of the Spirit)
- Video: Why Should We Care About Holiness?