Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Christie versus the calf/Spirit versus flesh
Meet my friend Christie. We first met when our sons were in kindergarten. We haven't spent real time together in years, but I like to still consider us really good friends. She's often an encouragement in my life, and I am thankful that I got to know her.
She posted this picture on Instagram last week, and with her approval, I am using it to write this post. Also, she said to me, "Why don't you write about it?", after reading my comment of what this reminded me of. So, here I am.
This is what she said on Instagram about this picture:
"She broke my arm. I broke her will. We're calling it a tie."
And just like that, her words and this picture had me all weepy.
You probably remember me saying that every thing in the physical is a picture of the spiritual. I believe that this is something God has given to me. That statement about things being a representation of something spiritual is not scriptural, but I truly think that upon the studying of His word and getting to know Him through the reading of it, that He often gives me illustrations of His word through everyday things like pictures, movies, and what I see around me.
(Do you happen to remember my blog post about the movie Cinderella and how I wept through the entire movie? This is the same thing.)
When I saw this picture, I immediately was reminded of how much we wrestle against God. I don't know the circumstances that happened when my friend took this picture, but it's safe to guess that a struggle was involved.
Galatians 5:17 tells us this:
"For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don't do what you want."
Galatians five goes on to explain what some of our fleshly works are: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealously, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar (verses 19-21 of Galatians 5). That's a pretty large list of how horrid our sin nature is. (We have all sinned, Paul says to us in Romans 3:23.) Our sin nature is the same thing as our flesh.
Paul also says in this same chapter, that all who practice these things will not inherit the kingdom of God (verse 21).
But because of the cross, this is not the case for those of us who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here is the simplicity of the gospel of Christ Jesus. God sent His one and only Son to this earth, as a baby and born of a woman. He lived an absolutely perfect life, meaning that He had NO sin. He was from and of the Father, so He was blameless. He was despised and rejected and accused of many things that were not true, and He was crucified on a cross. He was punished for our sin. Our past sin, our present sin and our future sin. He died and was buried in a tomb, but three days later was resurrected from the dead. He walked on earth for a short time after He was resurrected, but was taken up into heaven to sit at the right hand of the throne of God the Father. He is still there today, interceding to Him on our behalf. When He was taken up into heaven, His Spirit was left in those who believed in Him. Today, for those of us who are believers, we have His Spirit in us.
That is the Spirit that Galatians five speaks of. When Jesus died on the cross for our sin, grace entered in. This saving that takes place once we become believers in Him is something that is free and not anything that we have to earn or work towards. It is free. But how hard we must wrestle Him when He is drawing us to Him! I know in my life, at least, that I wanted to do things MY way, not His way. I didn't want to submit to His authority in my life. I wanted to love Him and serve Him on my own terms, not His.
Don't you think this little calf is that same way? I don't even know what my friend was doing with her to get her to struggle so hard, but I know this about my friend: she loves that little thing and was doing what was best for her. Without the care that my friend bestows upon her, she would likely die.
I'm going to write that again.
Without the care that my friend bestows upon her, she would likely die.
Without the saving grace that my Lord Jesus gave (GIVES) to us, we die a sinner's death.
This I know: there is a heaven and there is a hell. Heaven is for believers, hell for unbelievers. It is not His will that any of of His children should perish without knowing Him, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
He wants what is best for us. With this struggling calf, Christie broke her stubborn and obstinate will. She got a little hurt in the process, but I am confident that she will heal in a couple of weeks and be fine. Just like that calf was stubborn and obstinate, we are that way with God. But He changes us. How does He change us?
His word transforms us. (Romans 12:1-2)
Praying changes us, and aligns our heart with Him. (Here is an example of what I mean: have you ever been so mad at someone that you prayed furiously for that person to be changed? And then, did you actually see that change in them? I have prayed that way for someone, and you know who the Lord changed? ME.)
He revives us. He softens us. He smooths away those rougher edges that we have and gently rounds them out. His word filters our mouths. Well, that should be the case anyway. ("May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14)
Like my friend was injured in this process, He knew was suffering was, and endured that for us. Who better knows hurt, then, than Christ Jesus?
"He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised and we didn't value Him." Isaiah 53:3
(Read the rest of that chapter, though! It goes on to say much more about Him. This chapter was written by the prophet Isaiah, in the Old Testament. This was before Jesus was born, but it was a foreshadowing of what was to come.)
Lastly, like my friend has her arms wrapped around this little calf, that is how He loves us. He lovingly parents us and is infinitely kind with us when we fall away in our sin. He keeps on forgiving us, though and He keeps on loving us.
I talked about Galatians five a lot, but the last few verses are my favorite and are my instruction guide for living.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another."
None of that kind of living is possible without Jesus. His Spirit helps us to walk in those ways, but we must submit to Him, and we must "crucify our flesh".
Without Him we can do none of that. And apart from Him, we are nothing. It is all because of Him that I live and that I do this life that I live out on my blog. He perfectly loves all of me and all of my many imperfections. He sanctifies me daily. Sanctify is a fancy way of saying that I am a CONSTANT work in progress. I will never achieve my goal at being godly. That is why I read my bible, that is why I pray, that is why I live my life for Him. I am so thankful for Him and for how He loves me, even when I mess up daily, even minute by minute sometimes.
I will end this for now, but know that these words have been prayed over.
If you want to find out more, please, reach out to someone. Do not wait even one minute longer. You do not have to get your life more in order to reach out to God. You do not have to clean things up, even, He wants you just as you are. If you had to do any of those things to have a relationship with Him, then that relationship would not be about Him and His work in your life, but it would be about you. And that's not how it goes. He draws us to Him, we come to Him, then He does the rest. He does that so that our lives would point others to Him! The gospel is all about Him and it must be shared with the world.
Thank you for reading. Love to all.