The Christian life is a life of victory, joy, peace, and rest. That’s what yours is, right? All Christians walk in power and freedom, right?
Well, there is this thing in us called the flesh. I have written about the flesh before, but it just seems to keep coming around. The flesh is the thinking and feeling system we have built through our lives. I won’t explain it much more than that here, except to say that you are very familiar with your flesh. It is what you have called “you” all your life.
When you have said things like, “I want that,” or “I don’t like that,” you are speaking out of your flesh. Some people love the color orange, or hot peppers, or the smell of coffee, or the thrill of bungee jumping. Why? Because something in those things connects positively with their flesh. That isn’t bad or good; it is just the way things work. Certain things attract certain people, almost always because of experiences of the past and the thinking that has adapted in the heart of the individual.
Realtors say that the smell of just-baked bread helps to sell houses. People with red sports cars believe they get more tickets because officers assume red sports cars are always speeding. Prejudices, temptations, assumptions—these are all flesh perspectives. The flesh dwells in your sub-conscious and you don’t have to think to access it.
In fact, it is just that unthinking influence that gets us into trouble. When we buy the donuts or the clothes we don’t need because they look so good, we don’t stop to think it through. We just buy. When we eat too much or cuss or lust or say something cruel—we probably don’t think about the consequences. We just do it.
Our flesh wants certain things, hates certain things, fears certain things. For most of us, the flesh finds it very hard to trust anything we can’t control. And we have learned that things that seem too good to be true usually are not true. People lie to us and we learn not to trust. We try things and fail and we learn not to trust. Trust is a big issue with the flesh.
So along comes Jesus. He says that He will give us rest. We don’t have to do anything except come to Him. He will give it to us. The flesh finds that very hard to believe. Jesus tells us our sins are forgiven. Hard to believe. Jesus tells us our future is certain in His hands. Hard to believe. Jesus tells us that we don’t have to worry about anything. Hard to believe. Jesus tells us to come to Him and all the things we need in this life and the next will be given to us as a gift. Very hard to believe. The flesh knows better. At least it thinks it does.
This is why the Christian life is not about obedience or service. We don’t have time to focus on those things. The Christian life is about learning how to walk in faith with Jesus who loves us. That’s plenty hard enough for us. We have a lot of unlearning to do.
But if we unlearn the things of the flesh. If we believe that the way of Jesus is the best way, if we let go of the fear and the worry, then obedience falls into place and things like service and worship are easy. And Jesus said they would be easy. He didn’t come to make our lives harder.
There is something new for us, the way of the Spirit. We don’t have to do what our flesh says any longer. Yes, it is easiest to follow the flesh. Yes, it is familiar. But it is not good for us. The flesh is what broke us. The flesh cannot succeed. So, if we look to Jesus, we will find the mind/thinking of Christ building in us. More and more we can walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. Galatians 5:16-17