The Road Not Taken
Who remembers reading the poem, “The Road Not Taken” from your English Literature class? Written by Robert Frost in 1915 here’s a few verses:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The Bible also speaks much about divergent roads and not being able to travel both. Here’s a few.
Blessed is the person who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.
Proverbs 4:18, 19
18 The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
19 But the path of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.
…and Jesus’ well-known teaching in Matthew 7:13,14
13 Broad is the road is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
In these passages, traveling on paths and roads is a metaphor for how we live during our “four-score-and-ten” on this planet. In similar fashion to the prophets, poets, and Jesus, Paul posits only two possible roads upon which we can walk. Which is which and which one should we take? As we conclude our “Holy Spirt Is” series today let’s find out.
One of the roads is called the “Sin Road.” This is the road of allowing our sinful nature to guide us. John Piper explains:
Fallen human nature that prefers …
independence, power, prestige, and worldly pleasures.
People who choose to go down this road traffic in the elements of Galatians 5:19-21 .
19 Sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.
Paul must have watched one of our daytime soaps or this year’s Superbowl half-time show (ancient cultures were way more pagan but we are catching up)…. in Romans 8:5-9 Paul says that people who head down sin road are “hostile to God, won’t listen to God’s law, and cannot please God.” Truly sin road is the road most traveled! However, what is its final destination? Let’s look at Galatians 5:21:
Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
The other road is the “Spirit Road” which Paul strongly suggests we navigate in Galatians 6:15:
Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
We travel Spirit Road by allowing the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and control our lives. In other words, taking him as our Uber Driver! People who travel down this road, “Do what God wants, what the HS desires, and thus enjoy life and peace” (Romans 8:5-9) and enjoy the life spoken about in Galatians 5:22-23:
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control.
Going down Spirit Road means not only NOT giving into the desires of our sinful nature but crucifying every one of them (Galatians 5:24)! Romans 14:17 tells us the final destination of Spirit Road:
Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Sin Trafficker or Spirit Traveler?
Knowing that there are two divergent roads we need to ask whether we are Sin Traffickers or Spirit Travelers? Depends on what day it is, right? The reason we sometimes jump lanes, take detours, and hit spiritual potholes (sometimes we the windshield sometimes bug!) is because of the dynamics of Galatians 5:17.
The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
*1st Car Wreck-Fighting Over the Wheel*
There’s an all-out power grab (war) for control of our souls every second of every day. Similar to my first car crash, our sinful nature is trying to take the wheel of our lives while the Holy Spirit is fighting to do the same. According to Romans 8:3-4 one of the cardinal reasons Jesus was crucified was to disempower our sinful nature and allow the HS to reign in, and over, us. The one we surrender to will eventually take over our lives and determine our destiny. So if we care deeply about the quality of our lives in the “here-and-now” and then the “there-after” we will certainly travel down the road less traveled, i.e., the Spirit Road. How do we do that? We must learn how to “walk in the Spirit.”
How do we do that? Positively, we commit to the classic spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible reading, public worship, giving, and serving.
Today however, I want to add three additional things.
How To Walk in the Spirit
The 1st is to watch what we watch. I think we can all agree that most things we are visually exposed to, whether on TV or online, are designed to scintillate and stimulate, fascinate and facilitate our sinful nature. Not everything, but most, so we need to apply Philippians 4:8 to our viewing habits…
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Watching what we watch is one way to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).
The 2nd way is to listen to what we listen to. Beats and rhythms attract us to certain songs, but lyrics matter because they stick in our brains. Are they pulling us to Christ or away from Christ? When in doubt, again apply Philippians 4:8 (even to people).
The 3rd way we walk in the Spirit is to mind our mind. Have you ever done a mind monitor test to think about what you think about? To see what dominates your thinking? If so, are your thoughts mostly positive or negative, godly or ungodly, fear-full or faith-full? They say successful people think better than unsuccessful people so if we want successfully walk with the Spirit down Spirit Road how much more do we need to mind our minds? Or in the language of Romans 12:2, “Let God transform us into a new people by changing the way we think.”
The Spirit Wants to Walk With Us
The great news is that the HS wants to be our Divine Guide as we travel down Spirit Road all the way to the glorious future he has prepared for us. Before we go to Holy Communion, let’s pray that he will empower us to watch what we watch, listen to what we listen to, and mind our minds. In that way, we will indeed be taking the road less traveled and that, my dear friends, will make all the difference.