I’ve been a Christian for a long, long time. I honestly thought I ‘had this’, that I was mature enough to get it. So, excuse the embarrassment… this is seriously crazypants stuff.
1 Corinthians 2: 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
That’s been me, lately. I’ve been wrestling up down and sideways trying to understand the things of the Spirit through the mind of the flesh. Do you know something? That does.not.work. The experience of trying to explain what was going on in my Spirit to my *own mind* and failing is ridiculous.
Romans 7: 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
I find it moderately comforting that Paul was just as confusing writing it out as I’ve been, living it.
This is what was going through my head yesterday evening as I was coming back from visiting my husband in the hospital.
Flesh: You could totally rip this person a new one online. It would be fun. I mean, I know you’re not going to do it, but… you have the best excuse. Let’s fantasize about it.
Spirit: I don’t really want to. Like, meh.
Flesh: You’re not even restraining me, you just… aren’t interested?
Flesh: How about a huge meal?
Spirit: Nope. Just a normal meal, thanks. I haven’t gotten any exercise in a while, and I’m really not very hungry.
Flesh: How about staying up late, tossing and turning and being worried?
Spirit: Nope. He’s fine. I’m fine. Kids are fine. And I’m pretty tired. I’m going to have to take care of Body though, I think she could use an epsom salts soak.
Flesh: Look. I get it. You’re a nice Christian gal. You don’t want to do the naughty stuff even when you have excuse. But… aren’t you supposed to be restraining me with difficulty and being tempted?
Spirit: Yeah, it’s changed.
Flesh: This is very confusing.
You know that business about things of the Spirit not being understood by the flesh? You don’t expect that to go on simultaneously in your self. Don’t we all separate the “spiritual” people from the “worldly” people… and if we want to get finicky, we can create a third category, the “rules people”? Like, you’re supposed to be in ONE category. And the spiritual folks …err… aren’t they supposed to have one big moment and just become zen or something?
This is NOT how it’s playing out. It’s not. And it’s super weird.
Oh, by the way, though following rules is good stuff, I’ve found that following the rules qua rules is more helpful to strengthening my flesh rather than weakening it. Why? Because I have to concentrate so much on the rules, I have to put so much attention and energy into the battle over the flesh… that was a pretty confusing concept. Let’s try some Bible:
Colossians 2:20 Therefore,if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
As I said, I don’t know how to explain this adequately to my own mind, how am I going to explain it to you? But I’m TRYING. Because I want to get across that the wrestling of the spirit vs. the flesh is a real thing, and that it’s not a thing you get through by memorizing Bible or running down a to-do list or being really nice. It’s a thing you get through when it’s time. I don’t think I’m through. I’m on the journey. Took some steps. One of the big ones was last night, just realizing that that confused mind part of me, the one who is trying SO hard to explain this? That confused mind is part of the Flesh. Spirit understands and is dwelling in peace. So, letting go of my attempts to make this make sense, when the Word has *already told me* that it *won’t* make sense to Flesh, is a choice to invest myself in Spirit.
Among my fleshly habits is a habit of explaining myself, at least inside my head. It doesn’t hurt to let go of it. Nothing that I’m letting go of hurts, at least that I bring to mind at the moment. It’s just … not my habit. I’m used to knowing what to do next, in my Flesh. I’m very organized, very responsible.
Big changes, deeply needed.
PS Yes, my husband really is okay. He should be home later this afternoon, according to doctor #1. Been an interesting weekend, and Body is going to need some tending from the abuse I’ve put her through.