WHERE’S THE BLOOD?!?

It has been at least a couple of years since I’ve heard her say it, but when I would confess my sinful moral failures to her in the years after coming clean, she would ask me, “Where’s the blood?!?”

She references Hebrews 12:4, “In you struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (ESV)

You may say, “That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t mean literal blood…that stuff about pluck out your eye and cut off your hand is just figurative.” (Matthew 5:29,30;Matthew 18:8,9;Mark 9:43-47).  I don’t see any evidence to indicate that Hebrews 12 is talking about figurative blood.

Maybe I have a different perspective.  Back in the day (it’s been a few years) I would take part in Pankration – full contact martial arts mixing striking, kicking, and grappling for knock-out or submission (nowadays, MMA).  When I fought, sometimes I’d win, sometimes not – but I was a dogged fighter.  I never gave up easily.  Whenever I did lose, you can bet there was literal, red blood on my gi as testament to my resistance.

That is a mere earthly, flesh and blood struggle. Our resistance to sin is in the spiritual realm, and has another model – Jesus Christ.  You say, “He is the Son of God! He can’t sin!” True, but He was tempted:

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15 (ESV)

Also, when dealing with temptation in the Garden of Gethsemane, He shed real, literal blood:

“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 an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:41-44 (ESV)

So, dear friends, the next time you are tempted…

Shed some blood in the struggle! Draw on the power of the Holy Spirit, and don’t give in! Be like Christ and say, “Not my will, but Yours, be done!”

Peace,

George

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CRUCIFY THE FLESH

Francis Chan on crucifying the flesh in his book Forgotten God:Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit

“When you decide to put to death—to crucify—your flesh, you are by default choosing the way of the Spirit. You are leaving one path and joining another. The new path of walking with the Spirit will undoubtedly have its share of twists and turns. At forks in the trail, you will, at times, choose to follow the desires of your flesh, even though you left that path long ago.

The way of the Spirit is not a gentle downhill grade. Often, walking with the Spirit is an uphill trudge through all sorts of distractions and difficulties. But while the path is winding and difficult, you are constantly moving in a particular direction, and that direction is set by the leading of the Spirit. At some point along the way, you agreed with God that you were not meant to be ruled by your fleshly desires and passions (like anger, self-indulgence, immorality, etc.), and you removed the central role that these things once had in your life. Perhaps you have not yet made this decision. Understand that it is a decision everyone must make. It cannot be done mindlessly, not when we are talking about something as intense as crucifying. Each of us has to decide whether we are going to crucify the flesh, whether we will truly walk with the Spirit. It is a choice. And it is crucial.”

AN OLD ESSAY

Here is an essay I wrote back in 2000, before I came clean with my wife and family.  I had plenty of knowledge, but wasn’t living by it:

1John 2:16 says “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” These are three destroyers that may overwhelm the human spirit. The lust of the eyes is a destroyer of spiritual relationship, taking one’s eyes off the appropriate target (God, one’s wife, a God-given job, God’s provision) and stirring up discontentment (Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods). Jesus makes it clear in Matthew 5:28 that “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart”, thus destroying the spiritual relationship with his wife and God.

The lust of the flesh is a destroyer of physical relationships. It pollutes what 1Corinthians 6:19 calls “the temple of the Holy Ghost”. Abuse of the body through drugs or gluttony or fornication reduces the mere physical ability to serve the Lord. Of the marriage relationship, Mark 10:8 says “And they twain shall be one flesh.” Adultery and fornication introduce multiple persons into that one flesh, detracting forever from the marriage relationship ordained by God. While I do not believe a Christian can be possessed by a demon, I do think that indulging the lust of the flesh invites the presence of demons and their influence.

The pride of life is a destroyer of self, putting oneself on a level higher than that ordained by God. One cannot be prideful and also be a true servant, because a servant must not put self first. In John13:14 Jesus set the example and told his apostles, “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Too often we are captivated instead by Satan’s sin, “”: For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:” as he says in Isaiah 14:13. When we suffer from this “I” disease, we must be cast down and broken before being built back up by God into the Christians we are meant to be – extremely painful, but necessary.

All three – the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life – are rooted in selfishness. To break free, we must be true Christians (“little Christs”), and live as selflessly as the God/man we model ourselves after.

The other side of the coin is man’s spirit, which must be properly fed to withstand these attacks of the flesh. Genesis 1:26 says “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”, while John 4:24 says “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Thus our spirit is the portion of man created in God’s image, designed for worship and fellowship with Him.

Diligent study of God’s Word (either the written word or in the person of Jesus Christ – John 1:1) is required to learn how God would have us live. 2Timothy 3:16 says “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Action is useless if it is for the wrong reasons, and the Word teaches us what should truly motivate the spirit – love.

John 16:3 tells us “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.” The Spirit of God is sent to come alongside us to lend guidance in our daily Christian life. The Holy Spirit is the “still small voice” mentioned in 1Kings 19:12 which speaks directly to one’s own spirit giving direction, motivation, and adding strength to the desire to perform God’s will. Without the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of wisdom and of understanding” (Isaiah 11:2) it is impossible to correctly understand God’s Word.

The spirit within feeds itself and builds defenses against the attacks on the flesh by lust and pride. A spirit which is well-fed by God’s Word and in tune with the Holy Spirit will be robust, filling the heart and pushing aside the influences of carnal man. Galatians 6:8 – “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” A poorly fed spirit will be small and weak, easily succumbing to the worldly influences within and without. Let us all pray to be filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit, the better to serve God and reflect His image to all men!

The Holy Spirit

I am reading “Forgotten God:Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit” by Francis Chan, and this passage grabbed my attention:

“My guess is that you would love to be filled with supernatural power from the Holy Spirit. You probably wouldn’t be reading this book if you didn’t. The question I want to ask is why? Recently, a man dying of cancer asked the church elders to anoint him with oil and pray for his healing. Before we prayed, however, I asked the man a question I don’t normally ask: “Why do you want to be healed? Why do you want to stay on this earth?” The man, as well as everyone else around, seemed a bit surprised that I would ask such a blunt question. The reason I probed like this is because in the epistle of James, we are reminded that we often don’t receive the answers to our prayers because we ask for the wrong reasons: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” ( James 4:3 ). Our desire to live should be for the sake and glory of the God who put us on this earth in the first place. So, really, why do you desire the Holy Spirit’s activity in your life? Do you want to experience more of the Holy Spirit merely for your own benefit? When the answer is yes, then we are no different from Simon the magician, who tried to buy the Holy Spirit’s power from the apostles. Peter’s response to Simon in that situation was strong; he said, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!” ( Acts 8:20 ). The Holy Spirit is not a commodity to be bought or traded according to our individual wants, whims, or even our felt needs. We absolutely cannot have this discussion about the Holy Spirit without calling our motives into question. Right now I want you to take a break from reading and spend some time asking yourself why you want the Holy Spirit. Is it for power? Is it for your own betterment and purposes? Or is it because you want to experience all that God has for you? Is it because you love the church and desire to be a better servant to your sisters and brothers?”

I think I usually want His power to correct what’s wrong with me so my wife will like me or forgive me, or so I can be a “better Christian” (so that others will look up to me), or so I can say some profound thing to wow the people around me. I think I’m afraid of experiencing all that God has for me…I need to get over that fear. I definitely want to be a better servant.

Food for thought.

My love be with you all in Christ Jesus (1 Cor 16:24)

George