Have you ever noticed how the flesh is like a two year old? It wants what it wants and wants it now! Then in those times you do give in and give it what it wants it seems to only want more. There’s no satisfying it. According to the Bible we aren’t meant to satisfy it but rather mortify, or put it to death. We consider ourselves dead to the flesh and alive to the Spirit of God. We don’t focus on the flesh trying to fight it, instead we turn our attention to Christ in us and how he is our life now.
As a believer we are told we are one in the Spirit with Christ. “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” “We are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” In other words the real you is your human spirit joined to God’s Holy Spirit so we are one with him. The flesh is the realm of self-effort or the realm of humanity apart from Christ. It’s living as if we are independent or according to our own power or life. The more I read the scriptures the more I realize humanity was never intended to operate apart from the Spirit of God but that is exactly what Adam attempted to do. There’s a problem with this though because humans aren’t able to operate independently. What really happened is he joined himself to another spirit, a spirit that desired to be “like God.”
As a lost man we are joined to the spirit of error, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. So, we are either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness but either way always a slave and never our own boss. That was the lie from the beginning, remember? If you eat this you will be “like” God. Since then mankind has been born deceived, thinking our lives are our own and we can live however we want to live. This is the mind of the flesh.
After we’re born again and the Spirit of God takes up residence within us the old spirit of error goes out but it doesn’t mean we can’t be tempted and drawn away. This is where the flesh comes in again. The enemy can’t get to us in our center where we are joined to Christ, but he will try anything to get us out into the flesh realm if possible. You see, the flesh itself isn’t the problem so much as the lie that we can live there and be okay. Once we find ourselves in the flesh realm we’re easy prey for the enemy. He gets us out there and starts twisting our thoughts and playing with our emotions. Soon we’ll start to believe all the lies he’s been telling even though we are joined to Christ in our spirit. As a believer we have to walk after the Spirit instead of the flesh because walking after the Spirit is the only way to not fulfill the desires of the flesh. We have to live according to what God says about us rather than letting our thoughts and feelings rule us.
Looking back on my days of using drugs and alcohol I now see it as a way of pacifying the flesh. I didn’t like how I felt or the thoughts I was having so the only thing I knew to do was numb them. Of course this isn’t the answer but when you’re operating apart from the Holy Spirit you’ll try anything that appears to work. The truth is it did work momentarily so I kept doing it and of course that’s what addiction is. The more you feed the flesh the hungrier it becomes and pretty soon it has completely taken over. There is only one real answer to this dilemma and his name is Jesus Christ.
It takes a supernatural intervention to really free someone from addiction. The spirit of a man has to be quickened by God’s Spirit. God designed us to be run from our inner man joined to his Spirit. Until that happens we’re only propping up the flesh which is destined to crash. We’re not meant to be lead around with our thoughts and feelings dictating our lives. God created us to be ruled by him from within. When we have those thoughts or feelings that tempt us to run to something like drugs as a pacifier instead we look to the Spirit for refuge. We determine Christ in us really is our only hope. When our childish flesh starts making demands we remind ourselves we are instructed “to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” The enemy holds out promises of comfort, peace and meaning that are only mere counterfeits, but Christ is the real solution the next time your flesh pitches a fit.
Written by Louie
Before getting in front of the guys at jail tonight I was in booking talking to the Chaplain. As I walked toward the door to head down the hall another minister, talking with the Chaplain said, “Gonna have fun tonight?” I responded, “I know I am, I don’t know about the others.” That’s how it is though isn’t it? We choose whether to have fun or not. In fact we choose lots of things in life. This actually tied into what I shared with them later about not being controlled by our emotions. Our spirit joined to the Holy Spirit is really the one in charge.
I shared a little bit about myself and how I came to be born again and turned to John 14. After sharing with them about Jesus’ promise to send the comforter we turned to Galatians 5. We read “Walk after the Spirit and you won’t fulfill the desire (lust) of the flesh.” From there we went to Hebrews 4:12 which has become one of my go to verses as of late.
So Jesus promised the Spirit, Paul told us to walk after the Spirit, and the author of Hebrews told us God can show us how to differentiate between the soul and spirit. You know it’s easy to tell someone you just need to walk after the Spirit. The problem occurs when they haven’t a clue what that means or how it looks in the real world. This is precisely what I wanted to talk with them about tonight.
It seems there are many, many Christians walking around in the flesh simply because no one has taken the time to teach them. I’m not saying I’m the expert here, but I have come to a few conclusions on the matter.
When the term flesh is used it means we are living in our soul/body realm as if we are independent of God. In other words, if we are walking in our souls, or flesh, we are being lead around by our emotional and intellectual inclinations as well as our bodily appetites. The best I can tell is since God created us humans to dwell in, His plan was to be the Lord of our lives and rule from our spirit, but when Adam sinned he, with the help of the enemy, turned mankind inside out. Man began to live life according to how he felt or thought and whatever dictates his body demanded, leaving the spirit out in the cold, as it were.
Apparently Adam’s disobedience caused our human spirit and God’s Spirit to part ways. Adam no longer had God to lead him because he had bitten into the deception that he could be “like God.” Rather than being like God he actually became little more than a glorified animal. Animals of course are lead around by their instincts. Adam found himself being lead around by his bodies’ need for sex and food. Of course this is not the life God intended for us, and thankfully He didn’t leave us to it, but instead he sent his Son to make us the whole human being we were always meant to be.
As I spoke with the guys in jail tonight I spent most of the time talking to them about the difference between soul and spirit. I put three plastic chairs in front of them one for each part: spirit, soul and body. After giving them a visual of what man looked like after sin, I showed them what we are like now that the Spirit of God has come back into his Temple.
The first example I grabbed the body/soul chairs and had them bumping up against each other saying, “Hey, I’m hungry, that doesn’t seem to add up, I don’t feel well, I want sex, I’m mad…” Showing that’s all you can expect in that realm. Without the Spirit of God there can be no real peace. Once the Spirit of God joins to your human spirit there is a resurrection. Your formerly dead spirit is enlivened. Now your spirit joined to His Spirit is in charge and the body/ soul has to take a back seat. They are no longer given free reign, and they have to submit themselves to God.
For the most part all of the guys really seemed to be listening. For my final illustration I sat one chair by itself and told them it was a pretty woman. Of course that takes a little bit of imagination, but they were following me. I told them the enemy will use our sexual desires to entice us into sin. Of course they all chuckled but knew I was telling the truth. On the other hand I said, “God is looking at the same situation saying “Look to me, look to me.” You see these types of situations are always an opportunity to sin or an opportunity for faith. It is up to us to decide. We either go with our flesh or with the Spirit. The beauty of the whole thing is we now actually can see these things for what they are whereas before we were simply living according to impulse and cravings which always meant sin.
Thank God for the gift of his Spirit!
Why don’t they get it?
What’s it going to take?
Are they ever going to learn?
All of these questions may go through your mind as you see the men and women in the jail over and over again. In the last several years since Tracey and I have been going to the jail we have seen a bunch of them come and go only to return.
While there are numerous charges and reasons why each of them are in jail it really isn’t any different than why so many are still locked up in sin. Each of us has lived a life filled with trying and failing but maybe we just didn’t get caught. I know I lived trying to run my own life for many, many years before I became sick and tired enough to really hand it over the Christ.
Even though I wouldn’t want anyone to have to be in jail there is a good side to it. Because I get to go there and tell them Jesus Christ is the solution. If they weren’t in jail I may not have an opportunity to share my testimony and the Word of God with them. I know God does speak through others but tonight it was my privilege.
Sometimes when it’s time to go to the jail I am fired up ready to go. I’ve got scripture, testimony, examples and illustrations lined up and other times I don’t. Tonight was the latter. I didn’t really have any one thing or verse I felt led to share, but I know God knows what he’s doing so I went simply, trusting him.
Walking into the vending room the guys were already there and seated. It seemed to be unusually quiet for some reason but that’s good. I passed the sign up sheet around and started with a word of prayer. I prayed “God I have nothing, but I know you’ve got this. I thank you for each of these guys and the opportunity to share your word with them tonight. I just ask that you would speak to them in the way only you can, in Jesus’ name amen.”
After sharing a little bit of my testimony I read Hebrews 4:12 to them about how the word of God divides the soul and spirit. I never seem to get tired of sharing with others about how we are a spirit with a soul that lives in a body. I think this is so vital to understand. If we don’t get to a place where we can distinguish between our souls and spirits we will forever be led around by our thoughts and emotions. We must learn to walk after the spirit and not the flesh.
I know when I lived in the soul/body realm I constantly looked for something to make me feel the way I wanted to. There are a number of things that give us that charge to the flesh we’re looking for. It can be sex, drugs, money, gambling, risk taking, like skydiving or driving fast, it can be just about anything. Why do you think people love scary movies or roller-coasters? We’re all looking for that one thing that gets our heart pumping and the adrenaline racing, something to make us feel alive!
We read a little in Galatians 5 about the flesh and spirit and in 2 Corinthians 12 where Paul shares his revelation about weakness. The Apostle Paul had what he called a thorn in his flesh and he couldn’t shake it. He prayed three times for God to remove it, but God told him “My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” God’s grace enabled Paul to walk in the Spirit despite his troubles in his flesh.
I finished talking with the guys tonight telling them most of our problems stem from thinking we are strong enough and smart enough. We think we’re able to handle our lives and run them how we want to. God is saying to us “Let me carry your burden. Let me run things. I am the only one who can.” Once we see that our own weakness in the flesh is the key to having God’s power in the Spirit we will agree with Paul when he said, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” The spirit is indeed willing but the flesh is weak.
Written by Louie