And I will be grieved because many of you have not given up your old sins. You have not repented of your impurity, sexual immorality, and eagerness for lustful pleasure. —II Corinthians 12:21

“I’ve been on a roller coaster for the past two years,” says Leigh Moyer, 31, of Philadelphia. In 2003, she lost 25 of her 155 pounds by diligently counting calories and logging daily sweat sessions at the gym. Four years later, busy with graduate school and her job at a software company, Leigh blew off her workouts and stopped monitoring her portions… and shot up to 175. “It was so sad, so frustrating,” she says. “I let myself down.”

The above illustration shows what happens when someone who seeks to lose weight by changing their lifestyle and then goes back to their old patterns. What was lost was regained. Paul mentioned his concern with those who have not left off their old patterns of living. They profess to be believers, but they “have not repented of your impurity, sexual immorality, and eagerness for lustful pleasure.” Like the person in the above illustration they were living according to the old life patterns even though they professed to follow a new path. Are these people believers or not?

Well, I did not know these people above personally, but to think believers cannot be unrepentant about grievous actions is to overlook the whole of what God’s Word teaches. Abraham, David, Solomon… were they believers? Yet look at the sin issues in their lives.

“If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” —I Peter 4:14-16

If followers of Jesus suffer it should be because of their love and living for Him, not for some evil actions they have taken. Earlier Paul said to the Corinthians that “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?” (I Corinthians 3:1-3). It is possible for believers to act “worldly” and not “spiritual.”

This is also clear in Galatians 5:13-26 where we are told that if we are not walking in the Spirit then we are gratifying the desires of the flesh. In this passage we understand that a person whose life-style is patterned after the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God. But we are also told in verse 13 not to use our freedom to indulge the flesh.

Here is the danger— anytime we are not walking according to the Spirit then we are walking according to the flesh and that is a dangerous place to be. Grievous things can happen when we are walking according to the flesh.

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (I Corinthians 10:12-13).

Dear Father, may I stick close that I would not do anything that would bring reproach upon the Name of Jesus. Oh, that I would live by the Spirit and not fulfill the desires of the flesh. May it be so!

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