Day 4 – December 2, 2020
Note: if you’d like to start with the Introduction to the whole series, please start here.
Light a Candle:
If you have a candle, light it. This is a reminder that we are a people who live in darkness, without the light of God. And in the coming of Jesus, we anticipate that the light that was to come. He is our light.
“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Romans 7:14-25 NIV
We’ve started this Advent season, looking at our need for a Deliverer. We need someone to save us because their are chains that bind us. They keep us from moving forward on the path of life. We need the One who is the Way and the Life. We are bound by the curse against all humans. We are bound by an enemy who seeks to destroy the work and ways of God in our lives. We are bound by our own natures. This is what the Bible calls, the flesh.
Have you ever had the experience of coming back home, after you’ve been gone for awhile? Maybe you returned after starting college, or after you started a career? Something happened when you came home. Your parents wanted to recognize you as an adult. But some things they wanted to expect. They wanted to know when you’d be coming and going, or if you’d be around for dinner. And you wanted a different relationship with your parents, but quickly slipped into letting Mom do your laundry, or leaving dirty plates in the sink. And then, conflict ensues.
The old life just wants to creep in and take over again. That’s like living in the flesh. We have a vision of a different life, and even take steps in that direction, but under the right circumstances, we’re trapped and we go back to what we’ve known. We’re trapped by the patterns, desires, and thoughts of the flesh.
A life in the flesh is lived in the here and now. In the words of the writer of Ecclesiastes, it’s a life lived “under the sun.” It’s a life that makes sense to the natural person. It‘s driven by our own appetites. It’s expressed in destructive thoughts and actions. And it has no power to break the arc of death. It’s a life that’s empowered by Self. It’s self-righteous, self-sufficient and self-motivated. And, as we read in the verses above, it fails at every turn.
Life in the flesh doesn’t always look so bad. In fact, it’s easy to slip into living the Christian life in the power of the flesh. We slip into the pattern of trying to accomplish good by own goodness. We work harder. We become more sincere, more devoted, and more complete in our sacrifice. We judge our effectiveness by the fruit we produce, rather than the fruit the Spirit produces through us. It has all of the form and none of the power. It leads to frustration, anger, bitterness and ultimately death.
The opposite of living in the flesh, is to live in the Spirit of God. A Spirit-filled life is lived with eternal awareness, eternal purposes, and eternal power. It’s empowered by the Holy Spirit and it produces Spirit-fruit. This life is lived dependent on Christ’s righteousness, Christ’s sufficiency, and God’s motivation of sacrificial love. This is a life lived in his presence and completely dependent on all God is – Father, Son and Spirit.
Moving from life in the flesh, to life in the Spirit is a transition that requires the intervention of a Savior who is willing to live under the sun, and fulfill all the requirements of God’s holiness and justice. That is the Jesus we wait for at Advent. We are grateful for his coming and we long for him to come again and again into our lives, that we might be filled with His Spirit.
Our Father, my Father. I come to you humbly today, realizing that I am lost and hopeless without the deliverance of your Son. His death and resurrection broke the power of sin and death. And He gave you, Holy Spirit, so I could have life – life that is true life.
My flesh, though powerless against you, gets in the way. Lord, forgive me for the life I create when I’m on my own. Forgive me for yielding to the flesh, when I could be yielding to your Holy Spirit. Forgive me for trying to produce my own results, rather than being a bearer of Your fruit.
Today, I pray for those who are stuck in the flesh. [Name those who come to mind]. I pray for freedom that can only be found in the coming of Jesus.
Lord Jesus, you came that my flesh could be conquered by your love. Today, renew me in your love. Renew me in the reality of your coming and the hope of your return.
God, bless my day, keep my thoughts on you, by your Spirit and in the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.
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