People who haven’t been born again in the Spirit know nothing about the struggle Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 3:3. The war between the flesh and the Spirit begins with spiritual rebirth and can only be resolved in one way: we must learn, Paul says, to “walk by the Spirit”; if we do, we “will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16), and our struggle with worldliness will disappear.

Are you contentious and easily troubled? We imagine that no Christian ever is, but Paul says we are, and he connects these qualities with worldliness. Is there a truth in the Bible that instantly irritates you? It’s proof that you’re still worldly. If sanctification is being worked out in you, if the Spirit of God is getting his way in your life, there is no trace of the contentious spirit left.

Whenever the Spirit of God detects something wrong, he doesn’t ask you to make it right; he asks you to accept the light so he can make it right. A child of the light confesses instantly and stands naked before God. A child of darkness is defensive and says, “Oh, I can explain that away.” When the light breaks and you feel convicted of having done wrong, be a child of the light. Confess, and God will deal with it. If you try to excuse or vindicate yourself, you will prove yourself a child of darkness.

How will you know that your worldliness has gone? God will see that you have any number of opportunities to prove to yourself the marvel of his grace. He will send you practical tests, again and again, until you see that you are changed: “If this had happened before,” you’ll say, “I would have been filled with resentment!” When worldliness is gone, it is the most obvious thing imaginable. You’ll never cease to be amazed at what God has done for you on the inside.

Wisdom from Oswald

The message of the prophets is that although they have forsaken God, it has not altered God. The Apostle Paul emphasizes the same truth, that God remains God even when we are unfaithful (see 2 Timothy 2:13). Never interpret God as changing with our changes. He never does; there is no variableness in Him.  Notes on Ezekiel, 1477 L