For the flesh lusts against the Spirit,
and the Spirit against the flesh;
and these are contrary to one another,
so that you do not do the things that you wish.
As I began to write this blog post, the words of the Battle Hymn of the Republic popped into my head ... He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. I fear that this world is in mortal danger of seeing His "terrible swift sword."
Why do I say this? Because the societies of the world and the popular culture are telling us that we should just be ourselves; be true to the "real" you; don't listen to what others say, and become whatever satisfies you and makes you happy. But that is not what the Bible tells us, and if you are a Christian, then you must adhere to the warning that Galatians 5:17 presents.
I am completely astonished at the speed with which our society has adopted this "be whoever you are" mentality. Our youth are overwhelmed with advice from celebrities to "embrace the inner you" -- no matter who that might be! The problem is that who you, me -- all of us are-- is sinners! We are not called to be who we think we are, or who we want to be. We are called to a higher standard and to resist what we want and become like Jesus.
But because many in society have denied Jesus and the Holy Spirit a place in their lives, they don't know who they are in God's eyes. This has given the Enemy the perfect opportunity to introduce a variety of options as to who they can be. And it has resulted in confusion that will lead many to miss out on the transformative power of faith in Jesus Christ.
I can't help but relate this to the interview that Diane Sawyer did with Bruce Jenner. I hadn't made any conscious decision to watch the program or to avoid it. It really wasn't on my radar. But after a long, tiring week, we wanted to catch up on the news in the world and when we turned on the TV, the Jenner interview had begun.
What I saw was a tortured human being. I have no doubt that his feelings, his emotions, and his struggle to know who he really is are genuine. He professed to be a Christian, and although I didn't see the entire program, what I did see gave me no evidence that he understands that the battle within himself has eternal consequences. He is seeking to transform himself into another identity as a human being. I wish he understood that the transformation that will truly put his soul at rest is to deny the flesh and be transformed by the power of Jesus. A physical transformation will not quell his demons ... only through a spiritual transformation will he find the being he is supposed to be.
The philosophies of being "born this way" or "God made me to be who I truly feel I am" are convenient lies to cover the sins of the flesh. We are not just flesh and blood, we are spirit beings. God knit us in the womb just as He designed us to be. Being "born this way" cannot be a fitting excuse for those who embrace their inner bisexuality, homosexuality or transgenderism if, as a society, we do not allow it be used by those who will say they have inner desires to molest children, or to cheat on their spouse. We are all sinners and none of us should be the real us!
I want to make it clear that I am not without sympathy for Bruce Jenner and other fellow human beings who suffer the effects of such confusion. I saw an intelligent, loving, kind man who has struggled his whole life, and fought the desires of his flesh. But it saddens me that he does not appear to have considered denying the flesh in order to please the Spirit. Jesus said that if anyone would declare himself a follower [of Him], that person must deny himself and take up his own cross. I have no doubt that Bruce Jenner's cross was a difficult one to bear, and it just got too much to carry the burden. I wish he realized that he will never be perfect in the flesh, but he can be made perfect in the Spirit.
We all have the freedom to choose either the flesh or the Holy Spirit; and it is so much easier and natural to choose our fleshly desires. It is a battle that must be waged and won every single day of this life. But it can be won -- with the strength and power of Jesus who abides in us. Instead of striving to be true to ourselves, we should strive to remain true to Him!