It is one of those 90/90 days of the summer – heat and humidity, that is. The grass has to be cut; it can’t wait any longer! The calendar is full of appointments and meetings; so it is now or next week. You do it. You are soaked. You have 15 minutes to eat lunch, shower, and be in the car to the next appointment. There is no time to cook, but you are hungry and hot. Inside the freezer compartment is a half-gallon container of Breyer’s Butter Almond ice cream. It is only half gone. The only things higher than your temperature and hunger are your cholesterol numbers and excess pounds. … Ah!… worry about that tomorrow, and you empty the container and run! The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak.
The flesh is weak. Our experience in this Christian life regularly tells us that we are not made of very substantial stuff. And in fact, the Scriptures on a number of occasions refers to us as clay…
2CO 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
The flesh is weak. Each of us know it all too well. It is one thing to run from bad guys who pursue us…like wicked people and demons and the sort. But it is so discouraging to realize that the pursuit of evil is perhaps more often sourced inside ourselves! Man, that is frustrating! Paul understands, and writes it better than perhaps anyone ever has…
RO 7:14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Wow! That is candid! And we all know IT IS TRUE! Our failures are not because we want to fail. We desire to live well for God in righteous attitudes and deeds. But this “thing” inside us takes us down again and again. Gosh! We are wretched! Ugh!
But Paul immediately references the answer that is there – also within us – Jesus Christ our Lord! Where else might we turn? How do we have what Paul calls “the life of Jesus” within us?
Jesus told his disciples near the end of his earthly time with them that he would send the Spirit to not just be with them, but be in them. This indwelling of the Spirit is the common experience of the Christian in the church age, a reality not generally known by the saints of God in previous ages. So, Jesus lives in us in the form of the Spirit. The issue therefore becomes one of yielding control and authority to that inner strength, versus yielding to the inner strength of the flesh and sin nature.
GAL 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
GAL 5:19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
GAL 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Don’t you just love that last statement? Keep in step with the Spirit. Remember the old show, “Gomer Plye, USMC’? Remember Gomer in the introductory clip having trouble getting his feet into rhythm with the marching company, and Sargent Carter screaming into his ear? That is how we look so often when walking with the Spirit, and seeking to see the life of Christ lived out in us. It is time to get in step… and by doing so, we thwart the pursuit of evil, and we live well in this Christian life.