I wrote this last night, in a fit of exhaustion and emptiness:
“Today is one of those days that everyone has, but I don’t want to admit that it took me down, too.
The thoughts of frustration, disappointment and discouragement are overpowering my desire to stay focused and centered on Jesus plan for me. I keep trying to crucify the flesh but that sucker just won’t die today. Just tired and worn down, frazzled, depleted and done.
Done trying to empathize and restore, understand and care, intercede and advocate, trying to believe and hope for the best, to show love in spite of total disagreement, self-righteous, beam-in-your-own-eye, seeing-the-worst-in-everybody-else, manipulative, controlling, fault-finding, virtue-signaling, divisive, I’m-the-only-one-that’s-right arrogance.
Into Your hands, Jesus. Into Your hands. Your grace is sufficient…Your strength is perfect, when our strength is gone. You WILL carry us when we can’t seem to carry on.”
I’m not proud…but it was just the vulnerable place I found myself last night. It fit really well as a segue into something I wrote last week for my blog…but hadn’t posted it just yet. God’s timing is perfect. Be encouraged and exhorted.
For the follower of Jesus, until the day we are glorified in the resurrection, there will exist this dual persona in each of us to which we refer as “I, me, myself, etc”. These personas are 1) our corruptible flesh and 2) our regenerated Spirit. The flesh is our sin nature…that which puts us in a place of needing God’s redemption in the first place. The spirit is that which is given to us by God, corrupted by the sins of the flesh and DEAD in trespasses and sins. This spirit remains dead until God’s Spirit brings us to conviction, we confess and repent of our sinfulness, place our faith is His substitutionary death on the cross as punishment for our sins and surrender to the resurrected Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives. At that moment, our spirit is made alive by union with His Holy Spirit, enabling us to walk in newness of life, having been redeemed and restored to our original purpose of glorifying Him. But the flesh is not eliminated. The two exist in this one body, this one persona that I refer to as “me”.
Each day is a two-fold process of 1) crucifying the flesh and 2) abiding in His Spirit. I cannot abide in His Spirit unless I first crucify the flesh. This is why so many people try to work their way to God. “What do I need to do next?” “How do I find/know the will of God?” “How long do I need to…pray, read, etc.?“ “How much do I need to serve?” “I want to make sure I’m DOING the right things.” We often try to outdo the works of our flesh (ego, pride, self-centeredness, etc) by doing more works of the Spirit (spiritual disciplines, good actions and wholesome behavior). In reality, these “works” are often just more things that satisfy our flesh and strangle our Spirit, the Spirit of God that resides in us. They glorify me…not Jesus.
The life IN Christ is not so difficult as most make it — IF we first crucify the flesh. If we don’t start there, it’s excruciating, discouraging, disappointing, exhausting and never “enough”. Once the flesh is crucified (our persona that is focused on “What about me?”, “Am I happy and content?”, “Is God seeing me do this?” “Are others noticing how impressive I am for God?”), the WORK of my Spirit is all then done by the power of God’s Spirit.
Now, that’s not to say that life IN Christ is a life of luxury and no problems. Jesus told us just the opposite – “In this world, you will have trouble.” But if I’ve crucified the flesh, then every trial, trouble, tribulation, and persecution that comes my way is dealt with by the Spirit of God that is in me, the One in whom I abide. The shock of tragedy is absorbed in my Spirit by the Spirit of God who has equipped us to handle EVERYTHING that comes our way. When I struggle or am overpowered by my feelings, as I did yesterday, it’s a clear indication that I’ve got to go back and crucify the flesh again.
Another fallacy of abiding in God is that once you’ve crucified the flesh, then you just sit around and ruminate on spiritual things – talk, pray, read books and your Bible and whatever God wants done, He’ll do it Himself. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “Well, we just need to pray about it and if it’s what God wants, it’ll happen.” Though there is some truth in this statement, many use it as a copout to excuse their own laziness and lack of initiative. This is actually evidence that I’ve not died to the flesh. I would have to ignore a HUGE portion of Scripture in order to be passive and sit around waiting for God to do the work that He’s called and gifted and commanded me to do. The Bible teaches us that God does the work, but he does it THROUGH me.
I once read the quote, “work as if everything depends on you; pray as if everything depends on God.” That’s got some meat to it. I think “work” involves way more than “doing it all yourself”. It involves conversations, collaboration, decision-making, effort and labor. Conversely, “pray” is more than just announcing your dilemma to God. It involves personal surrender of our flesh, along with wisdom and power from above.
Let’s take a look at what God says about this:
Mark 14:38 ESV Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Galatians 5:16-26 ESV But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,  idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,  envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Romans 6:6,11-14 ESV We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.  Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.  For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Romans 7:15-20,23-25 ESV For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.  So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.  Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Mark 8:34 ESV And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Romans 8:13 ESV For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Colossians 3:5 ESV Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Galatians 2:20 ESV I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
It’s not about me…it’s ALL about HIM!Tweet