Who determines our actions?

Most of us love the view that we have control over our lives. We do not want anyone else to have say about our homes, families or finances, though it's nice to have someone to blame when things go wrong. At the thought of losing control in a particular situation, we feel uncomfortable and anxious.

I suppose, as we read in some Bible translations and in certain books, that we must be under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, and then we feel uncomfortable. I know that God, in an over-strained sense, exercises control over each and every one of His works of creation. He has the power to do everything with whatever he wants. But does he "control" me?

If he does that, how does it work? My consideration goes something like this: Since I accepted Jesus as my Savior and given my life to God, I am under the control of the Holy Spirit and sin no more. But since I still sin, I can not be under his control. And, if I'm not under his control, then I have to have an attitude problem. But I do not really want to give up control of my life. So I have an attitude problem. This sounds very similar to the vicious circle described by Paul in Romans.

Only a few (English) translations use the word control. The others use phrases that are similar to guidance through or change of mind. Several authors speak of the Holy Spirit in the sense of control. Since I am not a friend of inequality among the translations, I wanted to get to the bottom of this. I asked my research assistant (my husband) to look up the Greek words for me. In Romans 8, verses 5 to 9, the Greek word for control is not even used! The Greek words are "kata sarka" ("after the flesh") and kata pneuma ("after the spirit") and have no control function. They are more like two groups of people, those who are focused on the flesh and do not surrender to any god, and those who are focused on the mind, trying to please and obey God. Also, the Greek words in other verses that I doubted also did not "control".

The Holy Spirit does not control us; he never uses violence. He guides us gently, as we surrender to Him. The Holy Spirit speaks in a calm, gentle voice. It is up to us to respond to him.

We are in the Spirit when the Spirit of God dwells in us (Romans 8,9). This means that we live the Spirit, wander with it, look after God's things, surrender to His will in our lives, and be led by Him.

We have the same choices as Adam and Eve we can choose life, or we can choose death. God does not want to control us. He does not want machines or robots. He wants us to choose life in Christ, and let his spirit guide us through life. This is definitely better, because if we spoil everything and sin, we can not blame God. If we have the choice ourselves, then we have no one but ourselves that we can blame.

by Tammy Tkach

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