Friday, March 13, 2009

Flesh versus Spirit

1 Corinthians 7:32-35

32I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.”

Those of you that know me know that I am single, almost terminally so. I have not yet found a man that can lead me. I don’t say that to boast or sound stronger than I am, it’s just a simple fact. God has made me a certain way and I’ve not yet met the man that God said, “Hey, submit to him and lose nothing of yourself.” If you know me, you know that I’m not a feminist, burn-your-bra, all-men-are-pigs type of woman. You know that my deepest desire is to follow God and His leading in my life and He has not yet lead me down the path of marriage. My spirit is just fine with that. My spirit loves that fact that I can focus my attention on God and not worry about someone else. I don’t want to have to think before I make a decision if that would be okay with “him”, or if “he” would want to be involved as well. I want to take all my energy and focus on God and on what He’s doing in my life and how that translates into me being able to help others for God’s glory alone. That’s my spirit.

My flesh is a whole ‘nother story! It wants someone to worry about, someone to care for, and someone to think about when I’m at work. It wants someone to worry about me, someone to care for me, and someone to think about me while they’re at work. My flesh wants some physical person to be there when I need a hug, someone to physically be there when I want them to be there. My flesh wants someone strong, personable, a Godly man to lead, my flesh wants to submit to someone.

In addition to saying the above, 1 Cor. 7 also says that it’s better to marry than to burn, but is that really good enough reason to marry? Is that fair to the other person? I mean, if I got married to someone just because he… had a need to be married, is that really fair? I know what the Bible says, but I wouldn’t want someone to marry me just because they… needed to. And I would hope that the reverse would be true. If I were to marry someone, I would hope they would want more from me than that. Now, I realize that that’s only one part of the whole deal, but that’s the part that the Bible addresses right there, so I’m going with the thought that it’s a rather important part.

I guess what this really comes down to is what part of you is going to win: spirit or flesh. 1 Cor. 2:12 says “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” God has given us His Spirit because without it, our spirits wouldn’t know the real meaning behind anything that God has freely given us. We wouldn’t understand the power of our salvation, we wouldn’t understand the power of God that our spirits have access to, and we wouldn’t understand how to use that power in our spirits to control our flesh. Given that, given that we have the power of God through our spirit to control our flesh, I’m going to say that our spirits have power over our flesh. God made them both and has power and dominion over both, but He has also given us a way to fight the sinful desires of the flesh.

Marriage is not, in itself, sinful. But marriage at the wrong time, marriage with the wrong person, marriage in any other way than what God has appointed can be counted as disobedience and is therefore a sin. Marriage is an institution made by God, but if Satan has taught us anything, it’s that even good things made by God can be perverted. That’s what Satan does, he is the great perverter. Satan can take something as good and perfectly God-made as the institution of marriage, and twist it until it becomes something sinful, something wrong. I’m not talking about things as obvious of homosexuality; Satan is much slyer than that. For the Christian, Satan knows that the temptation of homosexuality is probably not going to work in most cases. So he has to be slick and try to get us to marry outside of God’s will by telling us that God wants us to be happy and make us think that marriage is the only way to be happy. Yes, of course God wants His children to be happy, but the greatest happiness will come on His terms, not ours and certainly not as Satan’s.

So friend, who will win, your spirit or your flesh? Do you have the power of God flowing through your spirit? Are you aware of Satan’s ability to twist things just enough to make them sinful but not so bad that it’s obviously wrong? Do you have control over your flesh? Matthew 18:8-9 “8If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.” That’s sounds harsh, but the flesh is stupid and cannot learn without severe punishment.

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