The flesh is defined as the physical nature of human beings; it also refers to the unaided human effort, the decisions and actions that originate from it. Without realizing it we are making life more difficult. We are striving to maintain all the desires of our flesh by putting idols before God.
Now let’s pause for a moment and think about the spirit that dwells within us.
Our spirit will have a final resting place somewhere. What we do in this life will determine how we are judged by God. The next time the little voice in our head is warning us to: stay away, pray harder, not to participate in an activity, we should listen. After all, it is the only way to guarantee its survival and ultimate goal to ascend to Heaven. The spirit is the nonmaterial part of our human self. The flesh is the covering and the means by which we perform various duties and serve God in this world.
Paul wrote in Romans 8:5-8 BSB: “Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on things of the flesh; but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. The mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind of the flesh is hostile to God: It does not submit to God’s Law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the flesh cannot please God.
Where we set our minds defines the life we lead and also our purpose. We will be able to perform good enough and make people think we have it all together, but when we are honest with ourselves and God we know we are settling. When the good enough fleshly desires leave us tired, broken, depressed, overweight, underweight, stressed, and miserable perhaps then we will listen to the Holy Spirit Jesus left to guide us (John 14:17). Or maybe we are overly concerned about appearances; putting on a show for the world to see but secretly our spirits are crying out to be released from the chains of being forced to “act”? To act like we are perfect, act like we are financially stable, act like our family is the best thing ever given to us, and act like…..Christians. Being a follower of Christ means that our sin nature may be put on display so that we can grow and learn from it. If we feel like the same things keep repeating, perhaps God is showing us grace and giving us multiple chances to see the mistakes we are making that are likely obvious to everyone else.
I remember watching an episode of a show that I cannot recall the name of. The scene was of three women; one(“Patty”) was lying in a hospital bed and the other two(“Sandy & Sally”) were standing at her bedside. The three looked like longtime friends and what was so sweet was that they were comforting each other even though only one was going to have a “procedure” done. (Ok, so now I’m sucked in.) As the story unfolds I learn that “Patty” could possibly lose her voice rendering her speechless. This frightened her because communication was her job and she loved it. The three women continued their cheerful banter, gushing love and admiration of one another until….. The surgeon came to do a final check and to let “Patty” know that she may in fact not be able to speak and that the procedure had 50/50 odds of success. The room was gravely silent for several moments and then it happened. “Patty” began telling her friends of 30 years how she really felt and she pulled no punches. She went as far as to tell “Sally” that her breath smelled like raw onions all the time and she should go to the dentist. I mean WOW. The honesty continued to flow and with each word the women grew more hostile and petty with their observations of one another. The two friends left in a huff.
“Patty” now alone to face her surgery regretted being so honest and thought she had just thrown away decades worth of love and friendship in a matter 5 minutes. But then grace. Once “Patty” returned from surgery to her empty room she was left not knowing if she could speak or if her friends would forgive her. “Patty” was awake, alert, and alone. Tears streamed down her face as she began to ‘ugly cry’ and I held back a stray tear as well. A moment later the same two women that she had called horrible names bounded into the room with flowers and gifts eager to know how she was. Patty could speak! The three women vowed to be more open and honest with each other going forward because there was a genuine love shared between them. Amazing.
The 20 minutes I spent watching that story made me ponder several things. The biggest was who was I lying to? How was I lying to myself? How was I lying to God? Sometimes TV episodes can bring us to an awareness that even if we had read or seen them before it brings all of the scripture studies to the forefront. Being reflective and honest about every aspect of our lives is not only cleansing but telling. The people who are meant to be in our inner circle can handle the honesty. God is Truth and Light; we should stand under it as often as we humanly can. Let our spirit speak from within.