May 16th, 2019
It’s fairly easy to get caught up in our own perspective. It really is a danger every disciple of Jesus must address as they grow in faith and trust in Jesus.
I see it in my walk with the Lord, creeping into my activities, altering my perspective of things around me. While we live in the flesh, we shouldn’t reflect the power of the flesh. Paul talked a good deal about the war within him; the battle between the Spirit and the flesh.
We are imperfect because we live in a sin corrupted world, in sin corrupted bodies, fallen from the perfection of the creator’s design.
The thing I and all disciples must strive for is to recognize when we falter, repent and reflect the image of our Master, so we present ourselves to those around us as a genuine disciple of Christ, not someone who purely seeks a sufficient measure of grace to save ourselves from the fire.
For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Galatians 5:17-18 (CSB)
This conflict that Paul describes is in much greater detail outlined in Romans 7:14-25, but for our purposes here this passage in his letter to the Galatian’s provides a concise summarization.
Paul’s central attitude was to be an earnest disciple of Jesus. He had been brought up in the religious structure of the time for Hebrews. He was a Pharisee’s Pharisee. However, his encounter with the risen Christ forever altered his focus.
Before that event he was resolved to quash, what he believed with all his soul was an uprising of blasphemy against the Law of God.
Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road, profoundly changed Paul’s life forever. From that point forward we see someone who is obedient to the Lord’s direction and guidance. We would in every sense see Paul as being a ‘Genuine Disciple of Jesus’.
But this was the outer countenance of the apostle.
Paul had a front-row seat on the war within him.
Jesus tells us that unless we are born of the Spirit, we remain victims of the flesh we are born with.
Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
John 3:5-6 (CSB)
Paul’s transformation was genuine. It was obvious from his behavior after his encounter with Jesus on the road that day. A permanent transformation that from that point forward, from what we as casual observers of the apostle can see, reflected his commitment to Jesus. But still, Paul was obviously fully aware that his best efforts were not sufficient to meet his objective to fashion his existence as close to the risen Messiah’s as possible.
His flesh was at constant conflict with the Spirit living inside of him.
The same conflict exists in each of us who have been born of the Spirit. When the grace of Jesus is applied to the life of a new disciple, that instant a conflict begins and will continue until we shed these bodies of flesh.
Till that time, we have basically two choices; 1) sit on the sidelines and be a spectator, not engaged in a pursuit of the Master’s standard of perfection. Or, 2) consign ourselves, as Paul did, to reach forward to the prize which is recasting ourselves in the image of Christ Jesus.
This doesn’t mean that we will or can ever be perfect reflections of Jesus. But we can strive to be Genuine disciples. A disciple is one who learns from his master and commits themselves to adopt all the properties of the master they can to establish a rendition of the master in themselves.
The thing is, we must not lose sight of just how easily we can become self-assured, thinking we are meeting the standard of Christ Jesus, because we never reach that goal while we exist in the flesh. The war that continues within us will seek to preempt our best efforts of loyal service to our Master.
Paul’s life prior to his encounter with Jesus, was everything the prevailing theology at the time called for him to be. He had met the technical standard of a follower of God in accordance to the law. But it was that assembly that Paul was a part of that Jesus called out to…
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every kind of impurity. In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Matthew 23:27-28 (CSB)
Our interaction with the risen Messiah, needs to facilitate a change in us. Upon that change we need to become Genuine Disciples of Jesus.
If we choose to just sit on the sideline and watch the war going on within us, we are the same as these scribes and Pharisees, who Jesus scolded for only appearing to have attained righteousness on the outside, “but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every kind of impurity.”
No Christian is perfect. If we were, then the conflict between the flesh and the Spirit would be over, and God’s perfect work of grace would be accomplished. But we know this isn’t the case, and the war within us will continue until we have shed this outer shell and risen to be with Christ. When we discard the corruptible and put on the incorruptible.
Then and only then will grace’s work be fully accomplished in us. Until that time let us strive to be “Genuine” Disciples of Jesus in every way, in every day; being an active participant in the war against the flesh and aligned with the Spirit of God.
In the Grace of Jesus!