It appears that today, as well as throughout almost all of history, we put way too much confidence in our flesh. We have forgotten, or probably better yet said in that we have never learned, that the flesh, everything about us that is physical, or only necessary for existence in this world, and the way of worldly thinking has very little to do with our identity. Our body is merely a suit of clothing that is worn so that we can operate in this realm and exist in this realm of which we call the visible realm. It is interesting to note that because of the pride and vanity we allow to develop in our heart that we let this clothing and the thoughts that now come with it dictate to us what we do and how we do it rather than allowing our true identity, the very source of our existence, to be our guide and reasoning. This is much like getting in a car and wanting to go around the corner to the market then the car saying back to you, “I do not think so, I want to travel across the country”, and then off you go to a destiny you never wanted nor intended. It is really that silly when you look outside of the selfish nature we inherited as a result of sin entering into the world.
The reality is we know that our earthly bodies are just the housing for our spirit and soul. The spirit is the existence of God in every living thing and gives it life. In the book of James he literally tells us that the body without the spirit is dead, but there are also several other scriptures that reveal to us that people ceased to exist on this earth in their bodies as they gave up their spirit. So then what part of this does the soul play? Well many will tell you that the soul is basically our mind, will and emotions and I tend to agree with that in the since of this is how it is manifested in this natural or physical realm. I think if I had to define the soul I would say it is our personality. It is something that is common, in having one, with our Father yet distinctly unique in its fulness to everyone else.
Hopefully in these few paragraphs then I have started to establish then the fact that though our bodies, the flesh, is a necessary component in life for existing in this seen world and that it can influence our beliefs and choices we should never put any confidence in it. This is a very big issue in the body of Christ today in that it has placed too much confidence in the flesh and little acknowledgment in the fact that we are of one Spirit in Christ which it is the Spirit that truly gives life. Paul said that he placed no confidence in his flesh and then even went onto explain that how in his deception that was brought on through the flesh how in thinking he was becoming the holiest of holies through the efforts of his flesh and yet realized he was becoming more and more the enemy of God himself who he thought he was serving.
Upon Paul receiving this great revelation about denying the very thing that he was putting his whole confidence in, his flesh, a great transformation took place in his life and the legacy of God’s grace in Paul’s life lives on in the books that make up much of the New Testament scriptures. Paul had learned to live by many of the lessons that Jesus taught while he had his earthly ministry yet even though I am sure Paul knew who Jesus was during those 3-1/2 years, I am pretty sure he did not sit in the front row to hear anything he had to say. No Paul’s revelation came after his conversion through the Spirit straight from Jesus and he was not afraid to say that what he knew it was not because of what he learned through his own efforts,but that which was revealed to him by Jesus. (Gal 1:12)
The whole point of this article though really is to help us better understand the importance and role the Spirit is to our everyday lives. We have already learned about one of the most important ones and that is the Spirit is life. Without the spirit the body ceases to exist. This is one of many reasons than too why it is so easy to understand that if it is by the spirit we have the maintaining of life then by the Spirit of God we can receive divine health. Moses was an awesome example of this from a biblical reference in how the Spirit can give life. We know that he was in the presence of God without any food or water for forty days,which in the natural is impossible for any mortal body to sustain life that long without food and water. I do not recommend doing this though just to prove something. If you feel led to fast, which is for the purpose of humbling the soul, that is fine but make sure your confidence is in that you have heard from God if you are doing any extended fasting.
So Spirit gives us life and sustains the body and since Spirit is life, health comes from Spirit. I want you to think about this so that you have the ability to never deny this truth. As believers we all talk about the brutal beating that Jesus took for us. In fact this was part of the reason Jesus was in such great distress when he prayed to the Father asking that if there was another way then so be it, but never the less not his will (Jesus) but thy will be done. Jesus had never sin and sin is what brought death into this world. The reality is Jesus could not die and no matter what was about to happen, so that you would have the right to claim your redemption from the effects of sin and be made whole, Jesus would have to endure one of the greatest beatings known to man himself knowing that he could not die. See Jesus did not have to hope that they did not beat him to death before he would hang on the cross but because no man could take his life he knew what he would have to endure the beating so that you would be free to live the quality of life that our Father created for you and desires for you to experience. Free from every and any sickness, disease, infirmary, brokenness, destruction, mental anguish or torment, basically anything and everything that is a result of sin. Even if something is a result of an injury that was an accident or on purpose out of a moment of just not knowing who you truly are there is nothing that is not covered by the redemptive act of Jesus to bring about healing and restoration to your mortal body or soul. We acknowledge his body as the bread broken for us and this is why when we take communion we are healed because we take it in faith receiving the atonement he made for us. Every time anyone receives communion if they are sick or something and they are not healed then they do not has this revelation firmly in their heart.
I thought I had better clear something up as I go forward. In referring to our flesh there are a couple of definitions to take into account which are all correct. The flesh can be referring to our physical bodies or it can be referring to the beliefs and ways of thinking that we inherited once sin entered into the world or both of these at the same time. For instance a few paragraphs ago I spoke of Paul about his stating that he put no confidence in his flesh. He was referring to that part of him which was inherited through the fall that leads us to think that through our own effort we can either be like God or by doing something we can earn or receive from God. It all focused on self and self thinking was a result of sin. In the previous paragraph then talking about the flesh I was clearer on what I was specifically talking about and that is the mortal side of our existence, the body. I will try to keep these separated going forward and where the two are influenced by the same thing I will note that I am speaking of both the flesh and body.
Another thing that many believers either do not understand or take for granted is that we are one Spirit in Christ. This is why I brought up the reference to the flesh which is inherited and the body because sharing one Spirit with Christ influences everything about us to the degree we allow it. When we receive Jesus we become one spirit with him united just as a husband and wife become one. (1Co 6:17) There is an irony to this as well because even though the Spirit is life our flesh is at war with it because our flesh, well for the lack of a better way of stating it, is stupid. See the flesh is all about self preservation and so logically one would assume that since life resides in the Spirit the flesh would embrace the Spirit with open arms, but not so in reality. This self-preservation mode is driven out of a since of pride and nothing good comes out of pride because it is all about what “I” can to do to make something the way that “I” want it to be for better or worse. And in here we hit the heart of this article in placing too much confidence in the flesh.
When we place our confidence in the flesh then we are solely placing whatever destiny we are thinking about in the hands of ourselves and what we can do to make it happen. Sometimes we receive part of the vision God has for our lives and other times it is the vision we receive from the world but in either case it winds up that we try to produce that vision through our flesh. Sadly this is where many believers stand today and I can bare witness in my life that this was a prevalent stance I took for a while in trying to produce life out of my effort and not receiving it through the Spirit. I have found out that that which needs life in order to exist cannot produce life out of itself. In other words we are not self sustaining folks. If it were not for the provision we receive from God we would cease to exist in less than a heartbeat. Now some are never really successful at dying soon enough to realize that they cannot sustain the quality of life God has desired for them outside of freely receiving God’s provision for that life. Nope instead some spend their entire lifetime building multimillion dollar companies to have multiple homes and cars, family vacations and everything their family could want or need. Now most would say what is wrong with this, isn’t that the American dream, and that would be the correct answer to their question. It may be the American dream but not necessarily God’s plan for you, which there is nothing wrong in anyone having that kind of life, but the whole point is if it all comes out of being driven by the flesh, through all your hard work and efforts then the better off you think you are the more you are separating yourself from God. Remember the whole concept of the flesh is at enmity with the Spirit and this is the epitome of that concept when one gets the idea that they do not need God because look at how well they can take care of themselves.
This is something Paul learned from experience. I do not know of his wealth because it is never really stated, but being who he was and having influence like he did as Saul, I can say he wasn’t broke. But Paul revealing his past was mostly talking about the works that he did which really seemed to be what is important to those who are seeking after pleasing God. He was talking about his self-righteous efforts to be at peace with God so that he would not freely receive eternal life but earn it by his own merit. And there you have the great stumbling block to the Jews that he referred to because to the Jew who was truly trying to be blameless before God the more religious they became in this quest the more pride would build. See as we build our towers through our own hard work and effort, pride grows with that tower and usually does not rear it’s ugly head until someone receives something similarly as a free gift. So when you become prideful about your efforts to be righteous and blameless before God and someone who obviously is not as holy as you just receives freely what you are trying to attain then pride causes that to be a stumbling block instead of a wake up call.
You might ask why I am so focused on the Spirit when the subject matter is the flesh. Some may have figured it out that since the flesh is at odds against the Spirit, the less we are flesh driven the more we are Spirit led. There is nothing that we can do that is good being driven by the flesh because everything that is considered by the person being driven as a good outcome drives them farther away from God whether they are a believer or not. Even believers who live by the flesh will wonder why their lives are miserable and why God hasn’t done anything to make them happy or to give them what they want. See the whole focus from these statements is it is all about “me”. But when we walk with the Spirit and are led by the Spirit we find everything we need in God. The biggest reason is the Spirit is not at all about self, remember the whole concept of self came through the fall when sin entered into the world. So there is an obvious cause and effect going on here when we deny our flesh, put away the self thinking, and then walk in the Spirit you are never concerned about yourself because self no longer is a factor in your life.
If you are like me in any way then you might be asking what this Spirit filled life looks like or how does it work. We have already said that we can receive the quality of life that God desires for us to experience but to expound upon that we know that from scripture the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering (patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness (gentleness) and temperance (self control). Here is the thing though see the flesh will tell you that this is all well and good but then it will tell you to try and produce these results, but if one tries to produce these qualities in their life then it is not a fruit of the Spirit but works of self-righteousness. Let me help clarify something in that we do not produce fruit as believers but we bear fruit out of intimacy with God. Just as a wife does not bear her own fruit but out of intimacy with her husband she bears his fruit. Walking in the Spirit to receive the quality of life that only God can give us is based on this exact concept. It is why we are told to rest in the Lord by taking his yoke because he has already done all the work and his burden is light because we just need to rest in him. A yoke is placed upon a beast so that you can control that animal to do your will it not it’s own, but in this case the will of the Lord is not what we can do for him but resting in what he has done for us.
So think about this, have you ever said or have you ever heard anyone else say that they would like to be happier or find peace? Quite possibly you would like to have more patience because you know how abrupt you can be to other people. All of these and the other qualities of life which we said were some of the fruits of the Spirit come only one way and that is not out of any effort of your own but out of your own submission to spending time with God. The more intimacy there is in your relationship the more fruit there is and the overall quality of your life just goes up and because it simply is just something that happens out of spending time with God then it does not have to go up then down but can just keep growing.