Does Your Life Resemble Advent or Mardi Gras?

dan delzell opinion page

The season of Advent promotes spiritual preparation and a holy focus upon things that have eternal relevance. At the other end of the spectrum, Mardi Gras promotes living for the moment by diving into any carnal desires which seem appealing. Two different ways to approach life, and two different ways to die.

One approach throws caution to the wind. The other approach involves dying to self as Christ lives in you and through you.

Does your life today look more like a Mardi Gras party in the flesh, or an Advent season of preparation in the Spirit? Do you live for the pleasures of sin, or do you look forward to the perfection of heaven? Some people immerse themselves in whatever feels good, while others "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness." (Matthew 6:33)

Which path are you on today?

Let's admit it. There is nothing natural about seeking first the kingdom of God. Before this can happen in anyone's life, it is necessary to be spiritually reborn through faith in Christ. It's the only way the kingdom of God can enter the human soul.

And then once born again, it is imperative for a Christian to say "no" to sin and "yes" to doing the will of God. This is what it means to be "Spirit-led." The Holy Spirit guides us according to the Word of God in how we are to think, speak, and live. God is interested in every aspect of our life once we enter His family and His kingdom.

The kingdom of the world gravitates toward the raucous atmosphere of Mardi Gras. The kingdom of Christ flows in the power of the Holy Spirit. These are two entirely different "rivers" in the spiritual world. So make no mistake about it. Your life will connect with a spiritual flow whether you consider yourself to be religious or not. After all, you are not only a physical being, but also a spiritual being. This is the way your Creator designed you.

The angels were created by God with a certain nature. Likewise, man was created by God with another nature. You and I consist of body, soul, and spirit. And there is no way you can change that reality. No matter what you do, your nature will always be both physical and spiritual. Every human being in heaven and hell will have a physical nature and a spiritual nature. And both of your natures in that realm will be immortal. Right now, only your spiritual nature is immortal. Your earthly body is slowly wasting away and will one day expire.

During this relatively short life on earth, everyone gets to choose Advent or Mardi Gras. A party in the flesh, or a holy flow in the Spirit. St. Peter wrote these words to God's people: "For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do — living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead." (1 Peter 4:3-5)

We are getting closer to the hour of the Lord's return. Jesus came to earth the first time because man had adopted sin into his nature. Adam and Eve were not created with sin in the Garden of Eden, but they welcomed this evil guest into their soul when they chose to disobey God.

You may wonder, "How do we know that it won't happen again?" That is, how do we know that every believer in heaven will stay on the right path and never get kicked out of heaven? Good question.

In order to answer it, we need to consider three things that won't be in heaven.

1. There will be no tree which is "off limits," and therefore no "option to choose sin."

2. The devil will not be in heaven, and therefore he will be unable to tempt anyone.

3. Believers in heaven will not have a sinful nature, but will be like Adam and Eve when they were first created by God.

When you remove a forbidden tree, the devil, and man's sinful nature, one can then see why God tells us in His Word that every believer will spend eternity in heaven. There will be no option to sin, no tempter, and no desire to sin.

For that matter, Adam and Eve would likely never have chosen the forbidden fruit unless the idea had been introduced to them from the evil one. Satan introduced an evil agenda to Adam and Eve, but Satan will never come near you or I in heaven. Instead, he "will be tormented day and night forever and ever" in "the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:10)

Today, the devil offers man the spirit of Mardi Gras, while the Holy Spirit invites man to prepare His heart to worship and follow the Savior. The season of Advent represents the preparation which believers engage in not only during a few weeks leading up to Christmas, but all year long. This is what discipleship involves, walking with Christ everyday as we prepare to stand before Him on Judgment Day. Since Christ is coming back one day, those who know Him are eager for His coming.

Meanwhile, many of those who don't know Christ simply live to party in the flesh. After all, that's only natural.

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Wellspring Lutheran Church in Papillion, Neb. He is a regular contributor to The Christian Post.

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