Today and tomorrow, we are going to look at the two different motivations we read about in Romans 8:5 — “Those who are motivated by the flesh only pursue what benefits themselves. But those who live by the impulses of the Holy Spirit are motivated to pursue spiritual realities” (TPT). Today, we focus on how people “who are motivated by the flesh only pursue what benefits themselves.” Basically, this is saying that in our flesh nature, our human nature, we are selfish. We pursue that which benefits us. We seek after our own pleasures, our own priorities, our own power. We live by our own strength.
When we are born, we immediately want what is beneficially to us alone. Think about it. We want fed. We want clean clothes. We want sleep. We want and want and want. We don’t consider if our parents have their needs met. We certainly don’t care if they have their sleep. It’s all about us. This continues though as we get older. We may be taught to share. We may be told that the world does not revolve around us; however, we still in our flesh nature will seek out what is beneficial to self. The idea that we should look out for others is foreign to us despite us being created as communal beings. Additionally, the idea that life is to be lived in relationship with Jesus, walking together, abiding in Him, is also foreign. Surrender does not come natural. It sounds easy to let go, yet it is much easier to cling with a tight grip than it is to actually let go and abandoned our imagined control.
When we make our decisions in life, we do not usually consider how our decisions will bring God glory. We do not typically consider God’s position at all. We select the decision that is best going to benefit us from what we can grasp from our human vantage point. Even when we say we will pray about the decision before making a selection, we find ourselves already leaning towards what we believe God will reveal to us. We hear what we want. We elevate ourselves to the position of God. As well, we focus our mind a lot on earthy things, on things that gratify the flesh. We lust. We want. We crave. Me me me. This is how we do life. What benefits you.
It is important that we take care of ourselves — that we do what benefits ourselves. However, our flesh nature does not naturally understand what is of benefit. That is a huge problem. We eat. It makes us feel good. We eat more. We may be eating the wrong foods or too much food. But we do not naturally take this into consideration. It’s all about instant gratification. This is the same for things like money, sex, etc. What benefits you in the moment — that’s the selection we so often make. Think about the phrase we hear too often today — if it feels good for you, go for it.
Don’t get me wrong. We do grow and learn from mistakes. We realize some choices aren’t good ones. As believers, we are guided by the Holy Spirit. He shows us the true benefits of life, and helps us to see a different perspective than our human nature. The Spirit teaches us, reminds us, convicts us, etc. This we will look at more tomorrow. There is hope my friends. For today, let us consider in what ways we may be seeking out the benefits on this side of eternity — where we may be making fleshy choices for some quick gratification, and trading God’s glory for a passing moment. Consider what greater things you have sacrificed by choosing that which is a quick fix. Ask the Spirit to provide to you revelation and better understanding. Be in prayer about God’s desire for your heart.