The outer covering, the skin, is created as a barrier to protect the inside of an organism. For example, the skin of a grape, protects the valuable juice that is contained within it. However, in order to retrieve the best part of the grape, the skin must be broken. Afterwords, it is discarded, because although necessary for one purpose, the outside is not the thing of most value.
The same is true of our lives. God creates our skin, the flesh, to protect the things contained inside. Our blood, organs, and bones are vulnerable if exposed. Moreover, for the Christian, when we receive Jesus as our savior, the Holy Spirit also comes to dwell inside us, already manifesting the valuable fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
While God created both things, the flesh and the Spirit, for a purpose, He places a higher value on the Spirit and its fruits. Hence, our daily struggle between the flesh and the Spirit is born.
“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2: 14-16
Perhaps we can better embrace the mind of Christ, who also faced the struggle against his flesh, by looking at his battle strategy as he gained His greatest victory.
Luke paints a vivid picture of Jesus during his most difficult time while in human flesh.
As Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, Luke records, “And when he came to the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.’ And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22: 40-44
As Jesus was forced to face the ultimate battle against his fleshly desire to avoid the physical pain of his execution and God’s plan for his death to bring atonement for the world, the force of that struggle made Jesus’s skin to sweat blood!
Just a few hours later, as Jesus hung on the cross, his body was pierced, and the blood of his sacrifice was fully released.
What fleshly battle are you facing right now? What is your flesh craving… satisfaction, acclamation, domination? Fulfilling these desires will only lead to making your flesh grow thicker. In actuality, striving to accomplish the will of self, reduces the fruits of the Spirit.
Just as the skin of the grape must be crushed to release the sweetness of the juice, so must the desires of our flesh be crushed and pressed down, so that the sweetness of the fruit of the Spirit within can be exposed.
Today, may we offer the desire to act in the pursuit of our will and desires as a sacrifice to God, through the crushing of them. So that, through our sacrifice of self, others may taste the sweetness of Jesus that freely flows from the fruits of the Spirit within us!