Before we continue into today’s message, I’d like to clarify something from last week’s message.
I had taught that like Jesus, we have a soma (physical body) and psyche (soul consisting of our mind, will, emotions, personality, intellect, and conscience). I mentioned that I was still studying it, but hadn’t found any evidence yet that Jesus was born with a sarx (flesh, which I defined as our sinful nature), but only with the pneuma (spirit).
Well, I’m not sure if anyone else dove into that study, but I did find it this week in the book of John.
The Word became flesh (sarx) and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
We could argue that this was just John being his poetic self, but he also recorded direct quotes from Jesus where He taught:
48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh (sarx), which I will give for the life of the world.”
52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh (sarx) to eat?”
Jesus goes on explaining this throughout the rest of the chapter, but He always uses the Greek word sarx when referring to His own flesh.
It turns out that the Greek word sarx can take on different meanings depending on the context that it is used within. It can either mean the soft tissue parts of our physical body OR our sinful, earthly nature. In the contexts found in John concerning Jesus, it always refers to His physical body like the Greek word soma. Jesus still was certainly not born into sin as you and I were and did not have the sinful, earthly nature of sarx like we do.
So, continuing on this week…
How do we win this battle within for our souls? How can we have a soul, psyche, that is full of life and peace and joy and is no longer consumed by fear and worry and drama and rage and every other life-stealing thing out there? We learned last week from the musical chairs example that it’s a matter of who sits on the throne of our lives. Who is going to be the boss of our souls? Our flesh, sarx, or the Holy Spirit, pneuma?
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you.
But… How do we practically do this? How do we walk in the Spirit and allow the Holy Spirit to be the governor of our minds? How do we live not in the realm of our sinful flesh, but in the realm of the Spirit? Well, as I prayed about this, I felt the Spirit say, “You are what you eat.”
What do we choose to consume in our everyday lives?
What do we offer up and devote our time to?
Especially when the pressures and stresses of this life come our way, what do we turn to?
Food, alcohol, drugs, entertainment, sex; things that satisfy our fleshly, sarx, cravings?
The word, prayer, worship, testimonies, fellowship; things that satisfy our spiritual, pneuma, cravings?
If we’re going to be truthful and honest with each other this morning, we’d likely find that most of us are quick to feed our souls from the buffet of our flesh instead of the feast of the Spirit. It reminds me of this account after God’s people had been overcome by the Babylonians and taken off into captivity.
5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
Our diet may look more like the Babylonians than the chosen foods of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Sadly, our bodies and souls probably look a bit more like the Babylonians than these men of Judah as well. We want knowledge and understanding in our souls. We want to look good and be healthy and well-nourished physically. However, we want to end up this way while choosing to eat our royal food, you know, Burger King and Dairy Queen, and to fill our minds with social media and streaming entertainment while laying around.
You are what you eat. Are we feasting on the things of our flesh, sarx, or the things of the Spirit, pneuma?
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh (sarx), from the flesh (sarx) will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit (pneuma), from the Spirit (pneuma) will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Here we find this, you are what you eat/you sow what you reap principle. Our lives were created to be body (soma), soul (psyche), and spirit (pneuma). Whether or not our soul and body prospers and is full of life and peace and joy are resulting from what we are choosing to eat or sow.
Are we feeding our soma and psyche (body and mind) with things of the sarx or pneuma, our sinful flesh or the Holy Spirit? Whichever we feed will be the one that will grow. Whichever we choose to sow will be the one that we reap a harvest of.
We can’t plant a field of daisy seeds and expect to spend our summer eating watermelons. Why do we expect to have a psyche, a mind, soul, and emotions, at peace when we feast on gossip, drama, divisive politics, greed, or any other fleshy thing?
A psyche, a mind, soul, and emotions, at peace results from feasting on God’s word, praise and worship, testimonies, prayer, and fellowship with other believers. It’s to feast on Jesus. This sounds strange, but it’s exactly what Jesus taught.
After feeding the 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two fish, that same group of people asked Jesus for a sign from Heaven. Yeah, think that one through. However, aren’t we all like this at times? God does the miraculous for us, but we’re looking for something else. They wanted something like the manna that came from Heaven for Moses and only then would they would choose to believe that Jesus came from Heaven. Jesus responded by saying:
48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Feasting on Jesus. Not feeding on the works of Jesus like the feeding of the 5,000, but feeding on Jesus. It’s a hard teaching. However, they are the words of eternal life! Honestly, I’d say that it’s a disgustingly treacherous and gross teaching except for having the Holy Spirit (pneuma) that grants us a proper understanding of it. To eat the flesh and blood of Jesus…
Here, Jesus was making an analogy between the physical and spiritual. We do not believe in transubstantiation or consubstantiation meaning that when we eat communion bread and juice/wine that they literally become the physical flesh and blood of Jesus within us. They are purely symbolic, but they do represent a spiritual reality. He used the same analogy at the last supper that the bread was His body and the wine was His blood.
Jesus is the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. It is not physical bread alone, but spiritual bread in the Word of God which we live on. We live on this bread by reading it, studying it, placing it within our hearts and minds through memorization, and then obeying it with our actions.
Deuteronomy 8:1-3/Matthew 4:1-4
1 Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. 2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Feasting on Jesus begins with feasting on the Word of God because Jesus was this very word wrapped in flesh. God’s word releases life and all of the fruits of the Spirit into our lives as we read it, study it, place it within our hearts and minds, and then live it out in obedience. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control begin to grow within our souls and define who we are.
In today’s world, we have countless resources available to help us feast on God’s word. There are apps and devotionals and reading plans and books and teachings and sermons. We have it in every format imaginable. The double-edged sword of this reality is that to whom much is entrusted, much will be required. What have we done with what is available to us?
What places our souls, our psyche, at peace and full of life? More Spirit, pneuma, less flesh, sarx. More of Jesus, less of us. That’s how we overcome every challenge and rise in victory over all opposition in life just as Jesus did.