Walking by the Spirit versus the flesh is similar to the difference between a luxury cruise ship and a row boat experience. Both occur in the ocean of life, but the experience is drastically different.
LUXURY CRUISE SHIP (SPIRIT)
1. Your cruise ticket states, “All expenses paid by someone you never met.”
2. There is a lavish buffet of food every day. You are filled and satisfied – never hungry (like feasting on the Word of God.)
3. This cruise ship is driven by an experienced Captain who is intimately familiar with the ocean.
4. You don’t really know the itinerary or ports you’ll be taken to, but it doesn’t matter because you trust it will be an exciting and fulfilling journey.
5. You sleep peacefully, safe, secure, and out of the elements, knowing that the Captain is awake and in charge.
6. You know that your fellow shipmates are on the journey, too. And there is a sense of comaraderie and unity. Everyone understands that in case of an emergency they are to help each other get into the lifeboats: it takes a team effort and the Captain will give the directions.
7. When the waves come you know they will not last forever. You don’t try to do anything to control them because you know you can’t, so you trust the Captain and the sturdiness of the ship and go back to your cabin to get some rest, knowing this too shall pass.
8. When you get seasick you know you can go to the Great Physician onboard for, at the very least, comfort and peace, if not complete healing. You know that he cares for you and will do everything he can to take care of you and make you whole.
A SMALL RUNDOWN ROW BOAT WITH OARS (FLESH)
1. You spent your own money on this piece of junk.
2. There is no food. You are starving and thirsty. You catch a fish here and there (like consulting the Word now and then), which is far from satisfying – never filling or fulfilling.
3. You have no knowledge of the ocean, no sense of direction, no GPS to show you the way.
4. You thought you knew where you were going when the journey started. But now you can’t even see the land, and you have no idea which direction to turn.
5. You can’t sleep at night because there is always the fear of sharks, wind, rain or capsizing in the waves.
6. You feel alone and isolated – no one understands your pain. Cut off from others, your mind starts to spin out of control. You’ve had a few rescue attempts here and there – another boat or a helicopter – but you wave them off, convinced that you need to somehow make it on your own.
7. When the waves come threatening to capsize you, you strain against them with all your might, wearing yourself out to exhaustion. Day and night you paddle but get nowhere. You fight the mighty ocean by yourself – an impossible obstacle that shows no mercy.
8. When you get seasick, you have no one to help so you try to remedy the pain by sipping on sea water, which only makes things worse (like turning to the world for help which leaves you dehydrated and sick – with no lasting relief).
Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.
- Romans 8:5-6 The Message