The Spirit Is Willing…

You know sometimes a switch is flipped and God’s truth is given new life, clarity, and power in your life. I had that privilege recently as we sat listening to the week’s lecture. His truth about my identity as a new creation and child of God shot through my performance-based faith and gave me new hope in my struggle against sin and my old girl. Laurie talked about how the Spirit in us wants to worship and rejoice, but it is the flesh (my old identity and ways of doing things as a sinner) that wants to resist, grumble, and complain.

It made me think of a statement that God put on my heart years ago as I struggled to get out of bed in the morning to spend time with Him: The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Does this statement ever feel like it defines your life?  The love you have for your Savior is constantly thwarted in action by the darn flesh that seems to cling to and hinder you? If so, take heart! You are in good company!

Jesus uttered this assertion to the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane when He asked them to pray as He faced His darkest hour. And guess what they were doing when He returned…sleeping.  Hmm, maybe our struggles haven’t changed much? Matthew writes: “And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak’” (Matt. 26:40-41). 

I have found it practically helpful to utter that statement as a confession in those times when I feel the enemy wanting to lure me into old sinful habits, whether it be coveting, gossip, self-righteous thinking, or complaining (just to name a few).  “Jesus, my spirit and the Holy Spirit that you have placed inside of me wants to follow you and obey, but my flesh (my thoughts, attitudes, and emotions) are weak and I would rather give in to them than obey you.” It is a simple acknowledgement that I need Him desperately, moment by moment.  Our confessions break the power of the flesh and help us cry out to Jesus for His grace to walk in the Spirit.

It seems part of the disciple’s weakness in the garden and the “temptation” that Jesus was referring to was more than just sleeping. They didn’t realize their weakness and frailty as humans. They didn’t recognize their desperate need for prayer and connection with their Heavenly Father. But they would soon find out. Within hours Peter would deny Christ and all of the disciples would desert him.  The weakness of their flesh was soon exposed. The sleepiness was just a symptom of their greater struggle.

So, how do we overcome? Try harder? Wrong answer…that leads only to moral self-righteousness instead of Spirit-filled living. Rather, we confess our weakness, THEN, as Laurie said, “We rejoice!” We affirm in our hearts His never-ending, covenant, everlasting love for us exemplified perfectly by Christ’s death for us on the cross. Praise and thanksgiving break the chains of the flesh and wrong-thinking and reset our affections, emotions, and heart rightly on our Father. Rejoice in what He has done and will continue to do in your life and heart! He is making all things new!

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)

This post has been contributed
to the Thistlebend blog anonymously.

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