This isn't an advert for "The Power Team" (http://www.thepowerteam.com). They're a bunch of butch Christians who smash bricks with their bare hands for Jesus and bend steel bars for the Lord. Though I've always secretly wanted to join them, I've been hampered by an inability to open a new jar of mayonnaise!

Rather, I think it's only fair to let people know that those who follow Jesus are not playing fair when it comes to living good lives. We're not competing "naturally".

As far as I understand it, what performance enhancing drugs do is enhance your performance! They enable you to do things that you wouldn't be able to be "naturally".

A lot of people think that what God wants them to do is to keep his rules. Live a good life. And then he will accept them into his heaven. It's a competition where you have to play according to God's rules and he assesses your performance.

Just as dangerous (and subtly the same thing) is the idea that some Christians have that God forgives you when you come to believe in Jesus and his death at the cross for your failure to play by the rules. But then what you have to do is compete by his rules so that he continues to accept you. It's free entry, but then a life of trying to play by the rules to stay in the game with God. Paul's letter to the Galatians is all about this problem.

The reality is that the Bible teaches that God has done everything both to bring us into relationship with him through His Son Jesus Christ and to keep us going trying to live for him day by day.

So Paul can say: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20

If you are a follower of Jesus, your old God rejecting self died with him at the cross. He bore the penalty you deserved. And now he has taken up residence in your life by His Spirit. That Spirit is making you more like Jesus.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Galatians 5:22-23.

But what does that feel like day by day? Is it simply the experience of sitting back and letting the Spiritual steroids do their work? No. Far from it. Paul says that the experience of being changed by the Spirit is a set of moment by moment decisions (steps) to do what you would please God. And that feels like hard work.

So "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other." Galatians 5:25-26. Living by the Spirit is deciding not to be conceited (proud), wind people or be envious of others. 

Or "Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:8. Sowing to the Spirit is deciding to keep doing good even when it's really tough. 

Now this is not a fair fight with those who don't follow Jesus. Because it is only because Christians have been given the Spirit that we want to live like this or that we have the strength to try and live like this. 

It's not natural. It's the spiritual steroid that has changed our heart. So thank God for His Grace and knuckle down to live to please him in His strength. 

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