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The Holy Spirit Wars Against Your Flesh

If I were to see my marriage, family, career, accumulations, etc. being threatened or even annihilated, would my self-esteem be vulnerable to suffering the same fate?

Jesus was a failure so far as the world is concerned. His best friends rejected Him; He was a totally dependent adult, not making a move without His Father’s okay. He made no attempt to become independent from His Father and was flat broke when He died. He didn’t even have to file a will because He didn’t own anything, yet He was depression-free as He was unjustly executed. Where did he get the strength to handle that? Someone says, "Oh, He was God; He could handle any threat." Of course, that’s right, but he rejected Satan’s survival mentality–living to provide for His own needs. Instead He depended on the Father as His only Source. That’s why He refused to turn the stone into bread. What is my source? Jesus or myself?

Jesus was the weakest man who ever walked Planet Earth because He did nothing in His own strength. John 14:10 says, "The Father that dwells in Me, He does His works." This was His life verse. My Father says that He has enrolled me in courses in His prep school to conform me to His Image (Rom. 8:28-29). I am enrolled in this course, but am I passing it? Have I realized how presumptuous it is for me to believe that it’s up to me to meet my own needs when Christ never lived that way for even one moment? Can I discover and use the same technique for victory that He used (Jesus chose to be weak), so I may experience Christ’s strength through me? Yes! In fact, without doing so, I’ll never progress toward being conformed to Christ’s image. This is God’s plan in preparing me for reigning with Christ.

Studies indicate that self-acceptance on this planet is based upon three things:

  • Belonging (I need to know that I belong to at least one person)
  • Worth (I believe the world will be poorer when I leave it)
  • Competency (I believe that I can do at least one thing well; I believe that I am more a contributor than a consumer)

I will seek to juggle all the variables in my life to satisfy these God-given needs so I can bestow self-acceptance (love) upon myself. And I can seek to accomplish this either via the flesh or by the Spirit.

NEED TO BELONG: I do things such as join clubs or groups, marry, select friends, identify with a particular university or athletic team with a winning tradition, even sporting the bumper sticker Native of (fill in my state), etc. –all to satisfy my need to belong. I think: We beat the 49ers; He’s my friend; I’m a Texan; She’s my wife; He’s my husband; that’s my boy! These are some of the ways I seek to satisfy my need to belong and, if I am a successful player, perhaps I avoid depression. But this is a tottering foundation which could crumble.

NEED FOR WORTH: I base my worth, on the other hand, upon such things as my physical appearance or that of my spouse, my kids or their successes, the prestige of my house, its location and furnishings, the prestige of my profession, office address, its state-of-the-art equipment, the respect of peers, my financial statement, the right clothes, the right car(s), the right jewelry or watch, the size of my spouse’s diamond(s), the right mobile phone, my wisdom on current events or biblical knowledge, ad infinitum. The more points I can award myself through these techniques, the greater the sense of worth I can bestow upon myself. Jesus had none of these. Again, a foundation of flesh.

COMPETENCY: Lastly, I seek to satisfy my need to feel competent primarily through my work. Then, to my accumulated work-points I add/subtract points for performance in marriage, parenting, outside-the-workplace honors, achievements, social skills, community service, religious duties, etc. As my total fluctuates, I award (or withhold) the title "competent" to myself. Clinging to this technique forces my Father to keep enrolling me in the courses He’s designed to liberate me from my self-imposed prison.

I was not re-created in Christ to live independently in my so-called strength. That is not the Life, nor the Image of Christ. As Anabel taught in her article last month, God makes this observation about such techniques: "They will be held guilty, they whose strength is their god" (Hab. 1:11). Sort of different from what I’ve learned on earth.

Failing to see that I’m enrolled in prep school and failure to discern the purpose of the course will result in the forfeiture of my post-graduate rewards. Part or all of my existing security stockpile could disappear today. This is why many in forced retirement die soon thereafter. They feel their life is over. One of the astronauts has struggled with depression ever since he returned from the moon. Why? Well, talk about forced early retirement! Where are the new worlds to conquer once you’ve walked on the moon? The poor guy can’t muster up the energy to search for new balls to juggle, much less keep them airborne. Flesh castles in the sky crumble, too.

Solomon is "Exhibit A" for me. God made him the richest man ever, the wisest man ever, and the most powerful man ever. Talk about topping the Forbes list! God set him up for the ultimate flesh trip so I could dismiss the lies that if only this would happen or if only that had not happened, then I would be happy. Solomon could dream the most creative ideas, finance them without having to see a banker, and command them to become a reality due to his power. (Read Ecclesiastes in the Living Bible.) His flesh trip reads like tabloid journalism.

Solomon should have had the highest self-esteem, the greatest peace of mind, the greatest fulfillment ever, if I believed the world’s standards for success. But, what was his middle-aged state of mind? ALL–that’s A double L–is vanity (worthlessness). He was depressed out of his tree. Neither Solomon nor the astronaut had new horizons to conquer by which they could be excited about life. I can never experience lasting peace and joy via the flesh. But I can avoid being devastated should one of these areas (or all three) begin to slip if I start living the way Jesus did. Here’s how.

BELONG: "The only sense of belonging that is permanent, that can never be touched by the world, the flesh or the devil is to know that I belong to my Creator. The only unfailing peace I can ever experience is knowing my Father (not I) has everything under control. That’s what Jesus knew about His Father even as He volunteered for the cross. Christ will never leave me nor forsake me. I don’t have to go through channels to be welcomed by Him. We are closer than brothers. Actually, wonder of wonders, I am His beloved bride! I will never be a worn out old wife who is cast aside for a young chick. I belong! That’s no sandy foundation. So the world may reject me, and though I may be wounded, I won’t go down for the count so long as I set my mind on how much I belong. Now is the time I must practice this (Heb. 5:14). I mustn’t wait for the bottom to fall out. I belong to the One who loves me most.

WORTH: What am I worth? Just as Jesus wouldn’t go to His financial statement to answer that question about Himself, neither should I. I know that the worth of anything that is for sale is determined by the price someone is willing to pay for it. God bought me. He could have bid one used surfboard for me if He’d wished. He can do what He wants. He runs things. And of course, He’d bid the State of Florida for Billy Graham. After all, Billy lives in a tall, distinguished-looking earthsuit, has a soft southern accent, and just look at how many people he reaches! Wrong. God offered the same price for me as he offered for Billy, the only Boy He had. He gave the very Apple of His eye, His only Namesake Who could carry on in the family tradition, live in the old family house, run the business. God spent that Boy, threw Him to the wolves to purchase me. Oh, I tell you I am worth something. To God, I am worth Jesus! My Father gave one Son to get another one. The Buyer paid an incredible price to get me. And since He runs this whole show, we’re talking truth here, not sand castles in the sky.

I picture a balance scales with Jesus on one end and me on the other. The two weights are equal in value. My worth and Jesus’ worth are equal to the Father! That’s a worth that can never erode. So let me lose my job or vocation through health or economic reversal, let my retirement program turn toes up, let the company sock it to me, take away the house, the nice cars, the prestige, remove me from the church board, or move me across the tracks. Will that lower my worth? Never! My worth is set in eternal Concrete.

COMPETENCY: And what about competency? I can demonstrate equal competency with Billy Graham. I can offer myself to Christ to express His Life through me to live a life of service to my spouse, my kids, my world. I can be competent wherever God puts me, knowing that He evaluates my competency according to my method, not my results. How do I face life? That’s the question. Am I living it, or am I trusting Christ to live it through me?

By depending on my own talents, intelligence, or even gifts, everything I do is incompetent. I may burn myself out thinking I’m working for Jesus. Though the results may be admirable, the method is wrong; I trusted in my strength. I will receive no "Well done." But if I trust Christ’s Life through me (perhaps doing many of the very same things) I will hear "Good job!" one day. The only way I can be incompetent is if I refuse to walk in this faith-method.

If I believe that my self-reliance is a virtue to be admired rather than a sin against Christ, I flunk all the courses in the university and walk in continuous incompetency. Moment-by-moment failure vs. moment-by-moment competency through Christ. The choice is mine.

About the Author

Bill founded Lifetime Guarantee Ministries to encourage people to experience the reality of Christ as life. His transparent, humorous, down-to-earth style and sense of humor made him one of the most effective teachers of his time. He communicated with great clarity the full extent of what God accomplished in Christ and what that means for the Christian identity. Although Bill passed away in June 2011, his messages are timeless and will continue to impact generations to come.