The past few weeks, God’s been helping us to better understand and work through the in-between season of God’s promise and fulfillment. The good news is that the God in whom we trust was not only there when He promised, but He’s also walking with us now. The even better news is that He has also gone ahead of us and knows exactly how and when our breakthrough is coming!
He is eternal and when He spoke His promises, He spoke what He was seeing already accomplished! That’s why we can trust what He says even if we may not yet see it ourselves. That’s why we have hope. What we have isn’t wishful or positive thinking. It isn’t good vibes. We have a living hope in the one, true, living God!
We can have confidence because, well, He already knows it all before we even approach Him! Any area of doubt or uncertainty or shame or guilt is already known by Him. So, we can come before Him confidently and boldly and allow His grace to wash away all of those things not from Him.
12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul (psyche) and spirit (pneuma), joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Where else can we go in our time of need than straight to the throne room of God? There in His Presence, we receive mercy and leave with the grace of God that we so desperately need. That grace to be empowered to go back and persevere through the difficult season until we exit it victorious!
Jesus can well relate to us. Although He fully knew how everything would end, He still struggled. Although He struggled with the weakness of living in our flesh and dealing with the weakness of our soul, He overcame those weaknesses. Before facing the public shame and condemnation that would be falsely heaped on Him, before facing the flogging and crucifixion, before being abandoned by His closest friends and being traded in for a murderer, Jesus faced the battle within.
31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul (psyche) is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit (pneuma) is willing, but the flesh (sarx) is weak.”
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
Jesus’ soul was overwhelmed. Jesus’ body was weak. Jesus’ spirit was strong!
This is the battle of Gethsemane.
This is the battle within.
We face this same battle.
Our souls are weak and easily change and shift; so was Jesus’! He was overwhelmed and His soul did not want to be crucified. The struggle was real! Our flesh is weak and refuses to submit itself to God, in fact, we’ll read later that it is hostile toward God. However, the same Spirit that enabled Jesus to overcome all of these weaknesses is willing to dwell in you and I and equip and enable us to overcome our weaknesses as well!
We were born created in the image of God. We are three in one (body, soul, and spirit) even as God exists as three in one; Father, Son and Spirit.
Jesus was born with a body just like us. The Greek word soma, which is our physical being that can be perceived with our senses.
Jesus was born with a soul just like us. The Greek word psyche, which is our mind, will, emotions, personality, intellect, and conscience. Our souls are the essence of who we are.
Here’s the difference. Jesus was conceived and born of the Holy Spirit; the Greek word pneuma. We were conceived and born of flesh, our sinful nature; the Greek word sarx. This is why we are called to crucify our flesh (sarx) and be born again and filled with the Spirit (pneuma). Sarx, flesh, is not the same as soma, body. Though the English words may be interchanged, the Biblical words are not interchangeable.
1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?
Again, this is why we are called to crucify our flesh (sarx) and be born again and filled with the Spirit (pneuma). This is why Romans 8 calls us to not live by or be governed by our flesh (sarx), but to live by and walk in and be governed by the Holy Spirit (pneuma). It’s a call to live like Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15 teaches us about death and what we will be like at the resurrection. It teaches us that flesh, sarx, does not inherit the Kingdom of God, but that we will receive a glorified body (soma) that will be eternal. Our natural body (soma) is buried and it is raised again as a spiritual body (still soma).
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus who do not walk according to the flesh (sarx), but according to the Spirit (pneuma), 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit (pneuma) who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh (sarx), God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh (sarx) to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh (sarx), 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh (sarx) but according to the Spirit (pneuma).
5 Those who live according to the flesh (sarx) have their minds set on what the flesh( sarx) desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit (pneuma) have their minds set on what the Spirit (pneuma) desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh (sarx) is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit (pneuma) is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh (sarx) 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 (sarx) cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh (sarx) but are in the realm of the Spirit (pneuma), if indeed the Spirit (pneuma) of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit (pneuma) of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body (soma) is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit (pneuma) gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit (pneuma) of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies (soma) because of his Spirit (pneuma) who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh (sarx), to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh (sarx), you will die; but if by the Spirit (pneuma) you put to death the misdeeds of the body (soma), you will live.
So what we are learning here is that there is a direct relationship between the health of our physical bodies (soma) and whether we are living by and being governed by our flesh (sarx) or the Holy Spirit (pneuma). Our sarx wants to eat Little Debbies and lay around watching TV all day. The pneuma desires discipline and would rather eat fruits and veggies and go for a jog.
Unlike Jesus, from the moment that we were born, we lived by the sarx. Life was all about me, myself, and I and getting what we want, how we want it, and when we want it. We lived for pleasure and comfort and indulgence. When we were born again, we received the pneuma and that is the moment when the battle within began.
A war was waged for our souls, psyche. Our souls, psyche, define the essence of who we are. The sarx, our flesh, has been the boss all this time and now it is getting pushed around by the pneuma, the Holy Spirit. We have been born again and are a new creation. We have been adopted into a family and now have a new name, a new identity, and a new way of doing things.
Which will we choose to follow with our psyche (mind, will, emotions, personality, intellect, and conscience). Which will we choose to allow to define our identity?
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
Just as Jesus said right in the middle of His own battle within:
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
We must choose life over death, blessing over curses, the Holy Spirit over our flesh, the pnema over our sarx! We have been given the word of God to know how to rightly divide what is us and what is the Spirit; what is psyche and what is pneuma.
This is the way. This is how Jesus lived His entire life from birth on and this is how we have been equipped and then called to live as well.
Our soul is weak, our flesh is weak, but the Spirit is strong! Follow the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, pray in the Spirit, sing in the Spirit, crucify that flesh/sarx, and live an empowered, overcoming, abundant life just as Jesus did! Win the battle within not by might, not by power, but by the Spirit of God alone!