Forgiveness -- Part 3 / by Michael Nichols

NOTE: this part is written in context of Romans 8 and Ephesians 6.

The moving on from sin by the power of forgiveness is like wind in your sails, which is funny when you consider the origin of the word "Spirit," meaning breath or wind depending upon the context. I don't think it was an accident that the Spirit is called "the Spirit." Authors (hint: God) usually choose appropriate words to describe characters, so when the word for "Spirit" is also used for breath or wind, I think that should mean something (of course without reading too much into it). Yet again, because of that, I don't think that it was an accident that Paul moves on from the topic of grace and the struggle of the mind to do good with the desire of the flesh to sin to the topic of life in the Spirit for no good reason. Back then, ships with sails were a means of transit across seas. It got you from A to B, and without the wind... well, we would have a lot of rowing to do.

Trying to move on from sin while still living by the impulses of the flesh is just like that -- like rowing across the Mediterranean Sea in all its vastness whilst being boarded by pirates with black teeth and a hollow code of ethics. The journey from A to B becomes a little more treacherous than it originally seemed, but the whole point of Jesus was to break us free from those pirates, those fleshly impulses, confused iterations of what God had originally intended to be good. Pirates either kill or imprison/enslave their captors, that is, if they don't defect to ally themselves with the pirates, but how can we accept enslavement, and how can we side with someone who wants to take everything we have? The whole point of the Spirit is freedom from what seeks to enslave us, to fight, to escape. I say "what" because it is not the people whom we should most fear but the things they hold inside, lethal poisons. Without weaponry, they cannot harm us. Our battle isn't against literal flesh, but it is against the dark system, against evil which, in and of itself, is almost paranormal, supernatural, and most definitely spiritual -- it's just that the vicar of darkness is the flesh. Therefore, the combat against sin is one that we fight in the realm of the Spirit. We cannot fight flesh conventional means. Substances, pills, rituals, can never substitute for the movement of the Holy Spirit. The idea that "iron sharpens iron" works for the flesh as well in that the more fleshly attention is given to the flesh, the more it thrives. Even if a little wine calms you down, even if a pill mellows you out, it is no substitute for letting the Spirit of the Lord lift you up from the ground to whence you were thrown. Don't misunderstand -- I'm not condemning pills or alcohol. I'm simply saying that they can have an overriding affect on the mind, which is hazardous.

So what then? Does the flesh have a hold on us? If we live in the Spirit, what happens next? Are you standing on the edge of it all, or are you letting yourself fall into grace? It can be so easy to live in the flesh because the flesh is primarily where we feel, but there is so much more to feel, think, see, experience, give, when walking in the Spirit, when we cease standing on the edge of decision and cross into forgiveness and grace, let ourselves set sail, grab a big gust of wind, and go where He leads us, be it into battle or into rest. Don't live in fear of the things that once scarred you.

When you start following the guidance of the Spirit, your history changes immediately. History isn't kept to begrudge the people who scarred you in your past but rather to remind you of the constancy and victory of God against your foes, even when you yourself are among them. Did the events change? No, but you begin to see them in a better light. You've come this far. God has delivered you, and as long as His Spirit surrounds you, you do not have to rely on your flesh to survive because true life is not in the flesh. The flesh is just a voice, but you are more than flesh and bone. You are spirit, and God is a spirit. Everything you experience affects your body, but in the end your body dies, and all you have left is what happened to your spirit. It is in the spirit we have protection and victory through Jesus' name, and NOTHING can take that away -- not distance, not people, not time  -- NOTHING. We are never forsaken. We are never alone. All praise and thanks be to God.