Have you ever caught a whiff of a burning smell?
You know…a very strong, scorching stench that causes us to go around sniffing the air like a rabbit hound, trying to follow our nose to the source. It is one I have experienced often in the past when I have tried to multi-task while preparing dinner!
This time, however, the very strong odour was not my carrots burning onto the pot.
This was such a putrid smell it almost made me gag!
It took a few moments before I figured out that the source of the stench was…me! My whole body was smouldering with the smoke from my burning flesh. (No, I was not physically on fire!)
I am talking about my flesh – my selfish will/my way/the true me because of Adam’s sin.
The Bible tells me that I have three enemies – Satan, the world, and my flesh. My flesh is my most fierce enemy because, unlike Satan and the world, it is constantly there! When I indulge the flesh (which is more often than I like to admit) by letting it have its way, then I am opening the door for Satan and the world to penetrate my life as well. Therefore, instead of fighting just one enemy, I often find myself battling all three…at the same time!
This week, as I smelled the smoke, I pondered the fact that until I change my address to Pearly Gate Road, I will do battle with my flesh.
Is there a way to win the battle?
Is there a way for me to come through unscathed from the fire?
Is “the devil made me do it” a reasonable excuse for a child of the King?
During my flesh-burning week, the Holy Spirit reminded me of a few truths from God’s Word.
I have to choose to walk in the Spirit.
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” Gal 5: 16 NLT
By default, the moment my eyes open in the morning, my flesh will automatically take control. Therefore, I have to INTENTIONALLY give control to my Paraclete.
Who is my Paraclete?
No, it isn’t a pair of shoes you wear to play soccer (pair-of-cleats :)).
Paraclete (or Parakletos) is the Greek word for the Holy Spirit, which means my counsellor, my comforter, and my guide. The Holy Spirit, upon salvation, comes and lives within us to guide and direct. It is like walking and talking with Jesus every day just as the disciples did. In fact, it is better; the disciples weren’t always able to be in Jesus’ presence. We are!
However, I have to give the Holy Spirit permission to guide and direct me! In reality, I sometimes drag my Paraclete around, doing my own thing, going my own way without a thought of what He may think!
No wonder my flesh wins over my spirit most days!
Instead of dragging the Holy Spirit behind me, I need to allow Him to be my guide, my counsellor. In other words, I need to let Him do His job. I need to stop and ask Him what He thinks I should do or say next. When He speaks, I hear; then I must choose to walk with Him, arm in arm, in the right direction. There is no dragging involved! Instead, I am walking in step with Him! When I do that, my flesh will burn!
“I” have to choose to die.
“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 NLT
I can try to fight or suppress my flesh in my own strength, and many days I do try to do just that! But, I always end up defeated. I find myself fighting the same struggles over and over!
It is not wrong for me to battle the flesh. It is wrong when I give in.
Paul tells me that battling the flesh is not possible apart from Christ.
So, how do I battle with Christ?
By crucifing my flesh daily (some days, hourly, even minute by minute). This means that I opt to die daily to my desires, my ways, my plans. I then choose God’s ways, God’s desires, and God’s plans.
The good news is being crucified with Christ means I also have access to that same power that conquered sin and death when Jesus rose from the grave! Therefore, my flesh does not have to rule me and the battles can become fewer and fewer – only through the power of Christ, not through the power of me! It is not about what I can do. It is about what Christ can do through, in, and with me when I allow Him!
I have to choose not to flounder in the Stench.
“With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.” Rom 8:1. (The Message)
“I stink. How could God ever use me? Why should I bother even trying, I will just stink up the place.”
For some reason, the unpleasant smell of my flesh blazing goes to my head causing me to forget the whole “no condemnation” thing.
Instead of brow-beating me about my flesh-burning stench, my Paraclete lovingly points out that maybe I should use that poignant odour as an instrument of praise! After all, when I smell that odour, I know that Christ’s transforming fire is at work in me! I know the fire of the Holy Spirit is purifying me so that I can be fit for the Master’s use!
So, from now on, when I smell the stinky stench of my flesh burning, I am not going to throw a pity party. Instead, I am going to grab a bag of marshmallows, Graham crackers and a chocolate bar and have a smores party with my Paraclete to celebrate what He is doing in me!
Will you join me?