The Spirit Is Willing But the Flesh Is Weak :: By Vanessa P.

I have felt, at times, that God surely can’t hear me anymore. I’ve sinned and I’ve disappointed myself, but sinning against Him and the immeasurable feeling of regret and shame that comes with it is an awful feeling.

I’ve sinned against Him, my creator, whom I love with everything in me. I love Him, I fear Him, I think of Him every moment of every day; and yet, I sin against Him. My heart begs for mercy; my soul yearns for His comfort and forgiveness. Have you ever felt like this?

There are times when I don’t “feel” him, but He’s always there. He’s not a feeling, an emotion. His love doesn’t sway, though He abhors our sinful nature. The love He has is so great that He sent His Son for us, to save us.

Jesus became that sin; He became that shame and regret.

He hung on a cross where God had to turn away from Him, forsake Him as our sin covered Him. Our sin caused God to turn away from His son because He is so Holy that He couldn’t look upon it. Our sin covered our Savior, which in turn gave us mercy. If not for Him, we would never even see the gates of Heaven. Not one of us.

As it is written:

“There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10-12).

On the day of Pentecost, Jesus entered the disciples through His Spirit. His Spirit resides within us, giving us a close and personal relationship with Him. Why do you think you feel so disgusted with yourself after failing Him? Because His Spirit is in you. When you accept Jesus as your Savior, His Spirit enters you, and you become a new creature. You inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Eph 1:13-14).

“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:16-18).

The “Helper” that was sent to us, after Jesus was crucified, is His Spirit. Jesus tried explaining this to the disciples but they did not understand. Why? Because they had not yet received His Spirit, so there were things they simply could not comprehend. Islam teaches that the helper was Muhammad. More on that in my next article.

Those that haven’t accepted Him just can’t understand what we as Christians understand or begin to see and feel through that Helper, and they won’t until they also accept Him.

“Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these’? For it is not from wisdom that you ask this” (Eccl 7:10).

When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples and the rest of mankind, it changed everything. The Holy Spirit gives you power and courage. It gave Peter, who only weeks before denied Jesus, boldness that He didn’t have before.

He stood in the synagogue preaching the Gospel, and 3,000 men and women were saved that day. It gave Paul courage. He was a Roman spreading a message that went against everything Rome stood for. He taught that Caesar was not above God, and Rome was filled with idolatry and sin. Paul was imprisoned over and over for His witness to Jesus. After Pentecost, Peter and Paul preached with authority and without fear for decades after the crucifixion.

The Holy Spirit is our guide; it’s our compass to the world, telling us which direction we need to follow.

When you become a Christian, sin bothers you. Abortion bothers you. Persecution of your brothers and sisters across the world bothers you. You begin to think of God more and more often, and your own sin disgusts you. The world isn’t as fascinating and welcoming once you become a Christian.

You’re not accepted in as many circles, or you’re mocked for your beliefs; of course, it’s only a joke though, right? Are you a virgin waiting until your wedding night? Something is wrong with you, not the women who party at clubs and have multiple one-night stands. Do you believe abortion is murder? Then you hate women and want to rob them of their right to “choose.” You want to burden women with the hardships a baby brings. How dare you.

Why do we sin against God, even after becoming saved? It’s because our flesh is weak. It’s because we are fallen and have been in a fallen and sinful state since Adam and Eve sinned against God. Jesus said the spirit is willing, it’s strong. But our flesh hinders us. It causes us to stumble and fall.

Paul himself admitted that he still struggled in the flesh, even after being saved.

“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” (Romans 7:21-23).

As a Christian it’s sometimes easy to get a little cocky; you’ve got God on your side; you’re not going to sin again. You then begin to rely on yourself instead of God. When you rely on yourself instead of God, you find yourself in trouble. You find that sin and your previous life and desires are still lurking in the shadows, waiting. Satan hates you. You didn’t think this would be easy, did you? It’s not easy, but it will be worth it.

It’s hard to admit I feel as though something is wrong with me as a Christian, to feel His absence. Am I alone? Thoughts creep in my head, and I wonder where they came from. Why am I thinking that?! Is it normal to sometimes feel like you’re being torn between wanting to live for Christ and the big beautiful world calling you back? The world screams your name, and God help you if you were a former addict, whether to porn or drugs.

Were you promiscuous, or did you like to “party”? The world especially wants you back. It won’t leave you alone, and you will have a constant struggle. Sometimes, even in prayer, you will fail. Not because Jesus failed you, but because YOU failed YOU.

Maybe you still have some of your old friends in your life, and there’s nothing wrong with that, if you know how to stand strong in your faith. Maybe it’s sexual temptation or lust.

Satan offered Jesus the entire world, every Kingdom, from the first to the last, but He rejected it. Satan tempted Him with every temptation we feel today. He rejected them, yet we have a hard time saying no to the simplest temptation that offers no reward or just a temporary pleasure.

“Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve'” (Matthew 4:8-10).

Am I alone in not feeling good enough as the sins of my past creep into my head and accuse me? They remind me of just how fallen I am. Who is my accuser?

“The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down’” (Rev. 12:9-10).

Every breath you take as a Christian is one too many for Satan. He wants to destroy you. He wants to make you hurt and to feel lost and rejected. He wants you to be miserable and constantly think of your past. Where do you think those sudden thoughts of your past sinful nature come from? He’s accusing you every moment of every day.

Slip up once and Satan will be before God letting Him know exactly what you’ve done. He doesn’t understand the love of Christ, though, or His never-ending love for us. He doesn’t understand what it’s like to have the Holy Spirit in you and the power that it can bring. He simply wants to destroy you.

When Eve sinned, the Bible doesn’t say she acted defiantly against God. Scripture says she was “beguiled.”

The definition of beguile is to “charm or enchant someone, sometimes in a deceptive way.”

We are lucky. We know what Satan’s purpose is; we know he wants to destroy the children of God. We know he is lurking in the shadows ready to pounce in our moments of weakness. What prior experience did Adam and Eve have with Satan? None. Eve was deceived, and she went along with the deception cooked up by Satan, resulting in our fallen state today. He charmed her.

Adam and Eve didn’t have books or documents written over thousands of years warning them of Satan’s very nature. They weren’t able to rely on the experiences of other men. This was a weakness, and Satan used it.

Adam and Eve literally had God before them, walking with them in the Garden, speaking to them even.  Yet they still sinned and fell from His grace.

The world calls for you to come back. It wants you to be a part of all the bright, beautiful things it offers. Just like Satan beguiled Eve in the Garden, Satan is beguiling you with things that are pleasurable to the flesh. The road to damnation is wide and paved in gold. The road to salvation is narrow and difficult if you’re not focused solely on God.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

It’s not that God has made the path to Him difficult. We make it difficult. We complicate our lives by not obeying Him and His word. Jesus is perfect, we are far from it.

If you lose sight of God, even for a moment, temptation rears it’s ugly head.

Remember that you are a new creature, born again. We are representing Jesus and His message of salvation. We are to live by His example, but don’t expect to be perfect like Him. He came for a reason, because you are not perfect. You will fall; you will sin in the eyes of our Holy God. He is holy, holy, holy, but His love is endless, and you are forgiven through His Son.

“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”

He knows your heart, your innermost thoughts. Nobody said this journey would be easy, but I promise it will be worth it. Trust in Him, and He will be faithful to listen.

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”