Sunday, October 21, 2012

Willing Spirit

Willing Spirit
Oct 22, 2012
Matthew 26:41  "'Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.'"

Jesus said the famous words, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."  To understand what this means for us today, we have to understand what it meant when Jesus first said it.  It was said right before Jesus was arrested leading up to His execution.  He had gone into a garden to pray because He was anxious about His impending death.  Jesus took  Peter and two other disciples along with Him and instructed them to pray, but they fell asleep after only an hour.  Jesus came back to them, frustrated, and wondered why they couldn't even do what He asked of them for one hour.  Then He spoke the famous words;  His words will have far more meaning to us if we truly understand them.

To paraphrase what Jesus said, for explanation purposes only, consider this version of the story:
        Jesus left the three disciples (Peter, James, & John) to keep watch and pray.  After an hour He returned to them and realized they had fallen asleep.  He questioned why they could not stay awake and do what He asked even for one hour.  Jesus then turned to Peter and said, "You must pray; pray that you will not fall into temptation.  Remember at dinner a few hours ago I warned you that you would deny me three times tonight.  Pray that you will be strong in the midst of temptation because when the pressure is high, tonight and even in the future, though your heart wants to do the right thing, your human nature will take over and cause you to do things you will regret.  Therefore be on guard and pray fervently that you will be able to overcome temptation by the power granted from the Father."

While Jesus didn't really say those exact words, it was what He meant.  He knew Peter would be put under tremendous pressure and would allow his human nature cave under it.  Though Peter's intentions were good, the pressure was high.  Peter, as we all know, denied Jesus three times that night.  This was a critical, eye-opening time for him as he finally put all of Jesus' words together like a puzzle.  He regretted that his weak flesh had fallen into temptation.  He possibly regretted that he didn't pray as vigilantly as Jesus instructed.  Jesus knew the human spirit was (and is) weak, but we sometimes think we have more fortitude than a brick wall.  That's what Peter thought.  But when the pressure is high, even brick walls can buckle.

Jesus didn't go into great deal about the power of the Holy Spirit.  But as the disciples later found out, the Holy Spirit is the only Power that can help overcome a weak human nature in the midst of tremendous pressure.  Paul gives us fantastic instructions throughout his letters on how to implement the Holy Spirit in our lives, but the instruction was (and is) no more simpler than what Jesus instructed:  "Watch and Pray."  Jesus knew that the only way to overcome a weak flesh was through the Power granted from Above, the Holy Spirit. 

I pray you may never be given the opportunity to deny Jesus under threat of death.  However, you and I are pressured every day to deny doing the right thing and follow through with what the flesh wants to do.  These are things as simple as: a small lie, an angry voice or curse word, a selfish act, or a physical sinful impulse.  All these things speak to deny Jesus in our lives.  We know they are wrong, but in the moment, our flesh is weak and we crumble.  It is important to implement the words of Jesus.  Watch and Pray.  This isn't about praying once.  The word "watch" means to keep watch, an ongoing act.  It takes an ongoing effort of being on guard and praying that the Power of the Holy Spirit will help us in our weakness.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Mark 14:38, 2 Cor 12:9-10, Eph 3:16, Rom 8:26

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