Flesh
By Mike Rule

People are not always comfortable when I share my struggles and failures. Some have said that I ought to seriously question where I stand with God if my flesh is not improving. I usually want to say in response, "I did not know there was anything good in your flesh. Would you please tell me about it?"

Jesus said, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6) and, "The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak" (Mark 14:38). Paul said, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells" (Romans 7:18). Again Paul said, "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." (Romans 7:22-25). It is important to note that Paul wrote this at the end of his ministry, not in the beginning.

The question I ask is this: "What would the deepest struggles of your mind and heart look like if they were written for the world to see?" There really is no difference in Christians. We all struggle and fail every day. If we were stripped of the image we want others to have of us, people would see the frightened and naked person we are on the inside--completely vulnerable as God sees us. Let us never forget that who we are at our worst moment is our true condition. The scriptures make it clear that flesh does not improve. But thanks be to God for His abounding Grace that even in our sin and failure He loves us (Romans 5:20b). Shall we continue in sin that Grace may abound? Certainly not! (Romans 6:2) We do not desire to sin, but we WILL! When we fail and stumble, our struggle and misery proves that sin does not fit us. Yet often we miss the "why" of our struggle and failure because we are trying to work hard to improve.

Flesh is flesh, and it will always be opposed to the things of God. Our true problem is in denying Christ. Failure is not an indication that we need to work harder at being a better person; it is an indication of a heart issue. Let me explain. I had a circumstance through which I treated someone rather rudely. A fellow Christian confronted me and told me I should not allow myself to behave that way. The sincerity of my faith was questioned, but this person never saw my heart. They did not see how I was compelled to go and seek forgiveness of the person who was treated rudely. They cannot see how the relationship with the one I treated rudely is now better than it was before. The biggest thing they never saw was how my point of failure was not in rudely treating someone, but in taking the credit for what God did through me in another situation. I thought I had something to do with a work in someone else's life, and the moment I stole His glory God let me stumble. I felt sick to my stomach over it. He let me walk in my own power and strength just long enough to remind me where the Source of life, power, and hope lies.

"12For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. 14Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:12-16)

The greatest responsibility we have as God's children is to choose Christ moment by moment and to respond to His voice. We are called to live in harmony with the One Who dwells in the very spirit of our beings. He is the one who divides soul and spirit.

 

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