Here is another contrast. John 15:5 says that apart from Him we can do nothing. Anything we do independent of Him therefore is flesh. In other words, it is done in our own strength. It is futile, empty, worthless, and does not glorify the Lord.
How do we break this cycle of automatic pilot “self” anything? It is simple and not a complex answer. It has to do with what or Who we are yielding to. When we yield to our flesh, the fruit will be: self-conceit, self-preservation, self-hatred, self-rejection, self-pity, self-gratification, selfish ambition, etc.
However when we yield to the Holy Spirit, the fruit will be: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. We only bear the fruit. He is the Producer as we submit to His leading. John 15:8 says, “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
Let’s go back to Romans 1:16. It says that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. Verse 17 says, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith…” 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Titus 3:5 says that salvation is not by our own righteousness.
As a child-believer I understood that God gave me His righteousness. I also understood that my righteousness was as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). What I didn’t know then was that He would use adverse circumstances in my life to conform my thoughts and actions to His revealed will. I missed that first part of Romans 1:17 until much later in my adult life.
Romans 1:18 says that the unbeliever suppresses the truth through their unrighteousness. Anything “self” is UN-righteousness and certainly IN-dependent of the Lord. He isn’t brought into the thought, decision, or action, but definitely excluded. Therefore, even a believer can suppress the life-changing truth of God’s word by ignoring what He says. That is walking in self-deception, or plowing through with our own strength. SELF–FLESH.
We are saved by the gospel and we live by the gospel. It is a walk into faith and a continual walk of faith. An authentic follower of Christ loves the truth and seeks to renew their mind through the truth.
Breaking the cycle requires acknowledging the Lord throughout our day, at every decision, and action. We bring Him into our central focus. We lift Him up in our situation by asking for help. We recognize afresh how dependent we are. He holds every breath in His hands. Think of it this way: every breath we take we are breathing in His Presence.