Tuesday, April 18, 2006

WordPoints - April 18, 2006

When the Flesh Is Weak
Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.
The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Matthew 26:41

During the difficult hours of Gethsemane, Jesus not only had a spirit willing to do the right thing, but He had, by virtue of lifelong exercise, a flesh that supported and carried out the dictates of His spirit. In contrast, the disciples' spirit was willing, but their flesh was too weak to put into action the things their spirit wanted to do. And so it often is in our own experience. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

The weakness of the flesh is a problem, it's true. But it's also true that there are some things we can do to diminish this problem. We struggle with the flesh's weakness, but we're not the victims of a problem we can do nothing about. If it's weak, the flesh can be strengthened. It can be disciplined. It can be trained.

The example of Daniel is helpful here. In the "lion's den" episode, he demonstrated a remarkably strong will. Faced with a royal edict that ordered the death of anyone who prayed to God, Daniel simply went home and . . . prayed to God. But this was not a man who suddenly steeled his will to do the right thing. He was an old man who "knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days" (Daniel 6:10). Since childhood, Daniel had been training his flesh to carry out his spirit's will.

In the case of Jesus, it is no doubt impossible for us to imagine what His needs were in the Garden of Gethsemane. Neither can we imagine the resources of both spirit and flesh that were available to Him in that hour of greatest need. But whatever those resources were, they were not suddenly built up in that hour. Every single day of His life, Jesus had been engaging in regular activities and disciplines that took care of and trained His flesh to be the ally of His spirit. There was more than a coincidental connection between Jesus' daily lifestyle and the fact that His flesh was strong enough in a crisis to implement the intentions of His spirit.

The general human failing is to want what is right and important,
but at the same time not to commit to the kind of life that will produce
the action we know to be right and the condition we want to enjoy.
This is the feature of human character that explains why the road
to hell is paved with good intentions. We intend what is right,
but we avoid the life that would make it a reality.
Dallas Willard
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Copyright © 2006 by Gary Henry - Visit the WordPoints web site: www.wordpoints.com

3 comments:

Badoozie said...

i think it causes major trouble when we "compare" ourselves to Christ. instead of comparing, we should just strive and look to him as a model. we need to just say it out loud, what everyone is thinking: Jesus was the embodiment of God. He was without sin. period. and according to the scriptures, we will never be that, until we are risen again. many times, this has been a stumbling block for me, as i beat myself over the head, because i can't seem to get it right. i think its worse for me personally, to compare myself, than anything else.

Bar Bar A said...

Anne, this was soooooooooo good. The flesh is very weak, but it does not have to win over every battle. I like the DW quote. Thank you for this post. Susie is right - we will never be perfect but we still need to strive to make progress. For me, right now, that means feeling the pain rather than numbing it (i.e. with sinful behavior)

Reverberate58 said...

This has always been my biggest stumbling block. I know what to do, and how to do it but find I fall short on many occasion. Thanks for the share.