If we believe that God has put his promise on our futures, then we need to believe that his promise will not be broken. We need to walk forward in faith. What God said he would do in our lives may not seem plausible to us, but that’s what makes God great. He will take what looks impossible and make it possible. To enter into what God has for us, all we have to do is believe it will happen and live the life God has given us to best of our ability. What we shouldn’t do is panic and try to save ourselves by leaning on what isn’t a part of God’s plan for our lives.
Without God leading the way, nothing we do will amount to anything meaningful. Our beliefs, our goals, our desires, they will all come back full circle and leave us where we started. However, if we allow God to lead our lives, if we allow God to change our beliefs, our goals, and our desires—or, at least, allow him to tweak them to fit into something that he says is truth—then our work will not rotate back into our faces. It will, on the contrary, keep us moving down a straight row that will eventually bloom into a life changing harvest.
Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you’ve started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom!
I’m using this freedom language because it’s easy to picture. You can readily recall, can’t you, how at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing—not caring about others, not caring about God—the worse your life became and the less freedom you had? And how much different is it now as you live in God’s freedom, your lives healed and expansive in holiness? (Romans 6:15-19, The Message Bible).
Don’t get it confused. Just because a person maintains a high level of “good morals” doesn’t mean he is living in God’s freedom. It doesn’t mean that his life will lead to anywhere good either, because good morals have nothing to do with God’s freedom. God’s freedom comes from living with him in harmony—meaning God is not mad at us and we are not mad at him—and living in harmony with God is possible because of the free gift, the grace, of Jesus Christ. “All that passing laws against sin (telling people how to act) did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace” (Romans 5:20-21).
Anybody can try to hold to good morals, but without the Holy Spirit leading them, those good morals will fail. So how do we live in God if we can’t even do it by morals? Here’s the answer: We pray for God to lead our lives. We ask God to take everything that makes us who we are and to take everything that we have and use it in a way that he sees best. Then we allow the Holy Spirit to shape us.
If we fight against the Holy Spirit as God tries to shape us, our attempt to live in the freedom of God will fail. We can’t expect God to force us to change. As always, we have the right to make our own choices. But, also, we can’t put words into God’s mouth. Just because something seems like a God-thing doesn’t mean that it is. It is our responsibility to make an effort to learn about God’s truth. And, yes, that takes studying. How many people obtained degrees by forgetting about books and deciding to answer test questions according to what they heard or what they already believed was true? Nobody!
As humans, we have the capability to learn, and that’s what God expects us to do. He offers no magic beans to take us to the next magical level of intelligence, especially if we aren’t willing to raise a finger on our own behalf. But he does offer us his guidance, his reassurance, and his supernatural help as we continue to work and live with him.