I am currently doing a study through the Bible in a year (as you may have read before). This year is different, though, as I am studying with several people apart from my wife. This conversation has come up over and again throughout the Exodus-Numbers chapters: why the heck are the people so rebellious? It seems that, at nearly every turn, God provides, proves Himself miraculously, and yet the people look back with fondness at the slavery they begged God to rescue them from. They turn to other gods, foreign wives, and the very things God tells them not to do if He was to remain their midst. And so, the people dig a pit for themselves, fall in, and beg God to rescue them. God shows them the promised land, which is even better than they had imagined it, and yet the inhabitants, not the God who rescued them miraculously over and again, frighten them, and so they rebel against God again. A whole generation must die out, never getting to inherit the promise given by God to their ancestors.
Consider this: Jesus told Nicodemus that if anyone is to see the Kingdom of God, they must be born again (John 3:3). What does this mean? It means our old self, like the generation who looked longingly at their slavery, needs to die before we can inherit what God has in store for us. The act of Baptism is more than a symbol: we are crucifying our flesh with Christ, being buried with Him, and raised with Him a new, spiritual creation. We die to the law which points us to our wrongs, and we are alive in the Spirit, who draws us closer to the Father through Jesus Christ. But to see the Kingdom, we must be dead to our slavery, to our rebellion and sin in the flesh that keeps us apart from God. We need to fix our eyes on Christ. We cannot live with God in the flesh. To see the Kingdom, our flesh must be dead on arrival, then He will give us eyes to see through the Spirit, now, and in the time to come. Galatians 5:13-26 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.