Two hunters stopped at an old farmhouse to ask permission to hunt on the property. The place seemed deserted. There were junk cars and car parts lying around, a few chickens pecking away and a goat eating weeds. As they approached the house they saw an old well in the yard. One asked, "Wonder how deep it is." "Well drop something down and listen for the splash." They found a big chunk of concrete and dropped it in. They counted and waited a long time for the splash. It was deep. They turned to leave and the goat was charging at them. They jumped aside and the goat went straight into the well. While they were standing there the farmer came up. They chatted a while and got permission to hunt on his land. The farmer asked, "Have you seen my goat?" They said, "Your goat came charging after us but then jumped into the well. You should have had that goat tied up." The farmer said, "I thought I tied him to a big chunk of concrete." LESSON: You follow what you're tied to.
When a person calls out to God for salvation, their entire life becomes His possession—the invisible parts: their soul and spirit, as well as the visible part: their body. The body, soul and spirit make one whole person but each has a separate function.
The body is our flesh and blood. It’s the external part of us, our earth suit that identifies us with the world. It’s the part of us that goes to the grave when we die. But while it lives, it exerts pressure to have physical and emotional power over us. The body of flesh tries to influence our will to respond to its needs.
The spirit is the place God designed for Himself. Like the missing piece of a puzzle, it exists as a hole in our lives until God fills it. It is here we first desire God. From here comes the influence for what God wants and the desire to obey Him. Our spirit urges us to choose a godly response to life.
The soul is who we are. It is the internal, eternal part of us that lives on after we die. The primary function of the soul is to decide how we will respond to life. The soul is the control center of our life. It is our will. It makes choices as influenced by our body of flesh or our spirit.
We have the body of flesh pulling us earthward—toward worldly desires, and the spirit pulling us heavenward—toward godly desires. The Soul makes the choice to which we will respond.
In the first century there was a group of renegade teachers who taught God was not interested in the body, only the soul. What you did with the body was of no consequence. You could sin with your body and still be right with God in your soul.
Part of the reason people accepted that heresy was they needed an answer for how to contend against the powerful urges of their body crying out for satisfaction. It was as though the body had its own strength to control a person’s life. Lust, desire, compulsion all had driving force to take over and run the life. And against these urges, the spirit seemed to have had little influence. To solve the problem, these teachers gave permission to give in, and no hope to withstand.
Like the world saying teenagers cannot resist the urge to have sex, so give them protection and look the other way.
Like the parent giving in to the tantrum of a two- year- old.
But there was hope. There is hope. These two sides—body and spirit—are only influences suggesting an outcome. Our soul decides which it will give in to: the urges of the body or the desires of the spirit. Whichever the will attaches itself to, that’s what we will follow.
Having two sides within battling for control creates a tremendous war. But the winner is easy to predict: it’s the side we are tied to.
God’s redeeming work, restoring man back to the fellowship he had with Him in the garden, reconciled the whole person.
Ivan the Great, Tsar of Russia in the 15th century was to marry the daughter of the King of Greece. Being Greek Orthodox, she insisted that if they were to marry, Ivan must be baptized into the Greek Orthodox Church. He agreed. When the day came to be baptized, 500 of his soldiers wanted to join him and be baptized. The church forbid professional soldiers from being baptized. They compromised. The men entered the water, took out their swords and held them above their heads. All was immersed except the arm which remained out of the water. They gave everything to God except their fighting arm which they would keep control of.
God didn’t just save our souls, He saved our entire life: body, soul and spirit.
Gen 12:1-4 – Call to Abram to go. TEST ONE – Will you go where I want you to go?
Gen 15:1-7 – God’s second call. TEST TWO – Will you be who I want you to be?
15:6 – the reckoning – declared righteous in response to Abram’s faith, within Abram’s heart God saw the willingness to be who He wanted Abram to be. Abram said yes to what God was offering him to believe.
Question: Does the inner change suddenly produce matching outward actions? Isn’t that what you would expect from a now righteous man? Righteous men should act righteously, right? But even a righteous man can make worldly decisions.
Cat with bad habits being fixed—still being influenced by his old nature. It will take time for his body to realize it’s been changed.
Which brings about TEST THREE – Will you do what I want you to do, the way I want it done?
TEST FOUR – Will you now do what I want you to, the way I want it done?
Gen 17:1-8 – Promise of life – walk with me and be blameless—carry no rebellion [speaks of division] division between who you are on the inside and who you are on the outside.
Vs. 10 – Circumcision – But why that procedure? It refers to a defining body part of the man. Why the removal of foreskin? Foreskin is excess flesh.
In Scripture the word Flesh can describe the body but often represents man doing things through his own power, independent from God. So the procedure is to remove excess flesh as a symbol of a greater reality—the triumph of the spirit over the flesh in influencing the will.
This was illustrated with Sarah giving Hagar to Abram: it was a physical act attempting to create a spiritual result. God had promised a child. We don’t believe that’s possible so we’ll help God or we’ll do God’s will our way. It is a challenge to God’s plan.
We do that in prayer, in a crisis, pain or distress. We tell God this is unacceptable and then tell God how He must fix it. This is what we want, God, not, God, we want what You know is best.
By going with the desires of the flesh, Abram actually rejected God’s authority over the plan.
So if the flesh is both the physical person and a symbol of rejecting God’s authority in our lives, then circumcision has both a physical reality and a spiritual counterpart.
For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly [who was simply born into a culture or has adopted Jewish practices], nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh [as a surgical procedure]. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter [of what the Law says]; and his praise is not from men [who only celebrate the outward results of the surgery], but from God. (Rom 2:28-29)
In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh [the part of us that wants to do things through our own power, independent from God] by the circumcision of Christ; (Col 2:11)
Paul made 87 references to the flesh, some physical, but most symbolic of living by our own desires rather than God’s. He described living by the impulse of our self-centered, bodily desires as living by the flesh or living in the flesh.
For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are living according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are living in the flesh cannot please God. (Rom 8:5-8)
Why can’t we please Him? We are not honoring Him as God.
This is the battlefield of our life. As believers we fight these same wars daily within our soul. Will we give in to the body of flesh and its desires to reject God’s plan or yield to the spirit and agree God’s way is best? Your will will attach to one or the other. Your life will follow the one you are tied to.
1. What we believe, we do. All else is religious talk.
2. Faith is seen in our obedience.
3. Our choices reflect what we believe.
4. Even righteous people can make wrong decisions.
5. By yielding to our spirit and not our flesh, we can make good and godly choices.