Friday, August 11, 2006


Have you ever heard of the phrase, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”? It’s normally used in situations where a person is in some kind of physical endurance test: hitting that last hill in a bike race, sprinting the last 50 yards in a marathon, or looking at a menu with 5 lbs to go in a strict diet. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. You know what you ought to do, but your body has another agenda.

The Apostle Paul said, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I {would} like to {do,} but I am doing the very thing I hate... But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.” (Romans 7:15, 20)

We are by nature, sinful creatures. We came into this world screaming for comfort and food. As Christians, we have accepted the authority of Jesus, God’s son. (Romans 8:3) With this acceptance comes the blessing of the Holy Spirit, deposited within us. The Bible refers to our bodies as a temple because the Holy Spirit dwells there. (1 Corinthians 6:19) So this gives us two parts within to deal with: spirit and flesh.

When Christians choose to do what is wrong, they have to squelch the Spirit within that encourages them to do what is right. (Some refer to it as their conscience.) If you squelch it long enough, it becomes a whisper and “the flesh” rules your life or you “go with your heart”. Your life goes out of balance and you live for worldly things like money, ambition, food, and twisted pleasures that excite the imagination.

The heart can be very deceptive. (Jeremiah 17:10) It’s a tough way to live, because the heart is insatiable. Suddenly you need more of whatever your heart wants. No amount of money, liquor, fancy cars, diamonds or girlie magazines is enough to satisfy. I can just hear the old Stones’ tune, “I can’t get no satisfaction”. (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

Not only do we have a fight within, but Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. We’re kids of Adam and Eve, and they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden into the world. And according to the Bible, the prince of the world is not a nice guy. He is not God, but he wants to be. He is in a major campaign right now for Christians. Like in the movie Poltergeist, “he knows what scares you”, he also knows what your weaknesses are. The Bible says he is like a prowling lion, waiting for someone to devour. And what do lions do? They wait in the tall grass for that unsuspecting, weak gazelle that has strayed from the pack.

This methodical being lays traps and woos people away from their walk with God. Remember Flip Wilson? He had a character Geraldine who used to say, “The devil made me do it!” Now that’s giving him more power than he really has. He may tempt you, but you have the freedom of choice to not do it. And God says He will always provide a way of escape for you when you’re tempted. It’s up to us to resist what our weaker side wants, and choose wisely.

Satan cannot read your mind and he cannot be everywhere. He does know your life history and what could be a lure for you. And he does have his own angels, doing his work all over the world. He might try sending a spirit of strife to your home to try and pull you off your game. He is behind every evil loose in this world. But remember, our battle is not against our fellow Christians, but against the darkness in this world. (Ephesians 6:12)

Sadly, when Christians fall in a trap and wallow in the mud they become an awful example of Christianity. And then the world is quick to point a finger and yell, “Hypocrite! Loser!” Score a point for the dark side. But we can still rise out of the muck with help from Jesus and real friends praying for us. A Christian who has tripped should not be looked down upon--they should helped back up.

I love the story of an African man telling a missionary how he handled the difficulty of living right. He said it’s like having a black dog and a white dog fighting within. When the missionary asked how could he help the white dog win, the man said, “I must feed it more!”

We must feed our spirit side more and more so our heart won’t rule our lives. The best way to do this is to read God’s word, the Bible. Then turn up the volume on your conscience, (your spirit) by praying daily. Strengthening our spiritual life will also keep us on the offense, watching for lions in the tall grass of our life. (Mark 14:38) Beware though…like a video game, the better we get at it, the obstacles seem to come faster and more often. (Jesus didn’t say it would be easy…just worth it.)

The race we’re in is not a marathon or Tour de France…but we are assured of a final prize when we reach the end. It’s a different type of training for endurance. You might even call it Cross-training. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

PS: Do you know who first said "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak? Check it out: Mark 14:38