Flesh or Spirit?
I get tired. Do you? Of course you do. I’ll be honest, I’m a little tired right now. Not tired in body as much as tired in my flesh. You know, my spirit is willing but my flesh is weak.
I’ve always loved that verse. It helps me to differentiate my heart from my ability to do what is good. I think you get that.
Discovering the difference is really important. But learning how to live through it, and in fact to get empowered in it, is really really important.
The Religion of the Flesh
As you think about this reality, you know, your being willing in spirit but tired in the flesh, we can become really religious quickly. We can try to battle these things with our own strength. When we do that, we jump out of relationship with Jesus and into religion. We jump into rules to somehow try to establish ourselves.
Let me give you an example in my life.
One thing I have battled with in my life is getting older. I know, you don’t believe it 😉 But it’s true. My eyes now need reading glasses too often, things that hurt don’t heal, they just move around. Growing older grows my awareness of my mortality.
But perhaps, one of the things I battle the most, is one of my prideful memories of my youth. My Metabolism.
I used to be able to eat anything, and just burn it off. It was awesome. I loved it. My choices of food didn’t matter, because I had an incinerator for a belly. Well, let’s just say that superpower is gone now. Bye bye.
I’ve had to use self control now. I know, that’s not fair 😉 LOL
One of the verses I’m continually given when I talk about that need for making better life/health decisions is the one from 1 Corinthians 6:19,20. This is what it says.
“Do you not know the your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.”
This is a great verse. I love it. It reminds me that my life is not solely about me. It’s vital. But let me show you what it does when we use this verse the way we tend to use it.
As human beings, when we see such a verse like this, we can tend to try to put up rules. We would call them healthy values. For example, we would try to eat healthy portions, with a good variety of fruit and veggies. We then would add on an exercise routine. The list keeps adding. Modern science gives us great options.
But what this can and typically does, is it becomes a religious protocol for us. It starts to make us not only feel practically guilty if we cheat on our newly formed healthy lifestyle but we feel like sinners when we eat an extra piece of cake. That is the spirit of religion.
Jesus did not die for you to be freed from cake. He died for you so that you can be freed from the power of Hell. There will be no cake in Hell, but there will be in heaven.
Religion is our attempt at controlling our flesh. But Jesus came so that we can have freedom from religious attempts to please Him. We must not battle ourselves, but battle the religious spirit. That does not mean that we don’t have some great rules in our lives so that we can live well in relationship with God and others, but rules serve us, we don’t serve them.
Your Identity is in Relationship, NOT Rules
Please remember, Jesus did not die for you to follow rules, but to be in relationship with Him. He wants to live life with you, not just have you obey Him. That’s different.
My body is not my own, the scripture is clear. So don’t use your body for your own pleasure, but for God’s. If you remember that, you just solved a good majority of life problems. But use your body for God’s pleasure and He may just sit and eat cake with you.
A Conclusion – Twisted Theology.
By the way, I want to potentially give you some freedom. The verse I quoted above regarding your body, has nothing to do with your health. We too often find these little nuggets and use them wrong.
This verse is about your sexuality, not your diet. God wants you to honour you sexuality according to the way He made males and females, and the sanctity of marriage. So don’t worry about using this verse the next time you see an extra donut. 🙂
So the next time your spirit is willing and your flesh is weak, take these steps.
Take Your Position – Get on you knees, either figuratively or actually. You need to pray. God wants to give you strength. It’s not up to you to eat well, sleep enough and exercise to give you strength for the battle.
Put on the armor of God. I’m not joking here. Walk through those verses in Ephesians 6:10-2-0, and visualize putting on each piece. Talk to God about them as they go on.
Eat well, get enough sleep and exercise in the right way. These things are important, but not as important as steps one and two. They make sure you are in relationship before you try to do all of the work. Then your habits will serve God and you won’t serve them.