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  • Daniel Botkin

What is Man? A Hunk of Bloody Flesh Destined to Walk in the Spirit


One night I was lying in bed pondering the mysteries of life, as I am wont to do. I turned to my wife and said, “Have you ever thought about the weirdness of our existence as humans? We live in a skin-covered sack made of bloody meat, decorated on the outside with tufts of hair planted in various places, and full of various soft organs on the inside, with bones embedded in various places to enable us to stand upright and move about until we die.”

“I’m trying to go to sleep,” my wife replied. “That’s creepy. Don’t talk like that, it might give me bad dreams.”

It might sound creepy, but it’s true. It’s essentially what Job said to God. “Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews” (Job 10:1).

David pondered the question of man’s existence in this world. “What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that Thou visitest him?” (Ps. 8:4).

If David had asked me what man is, I would have told him that man is a hunk of bloody flesh destined to walk in the Spirit. We are mortals who are designed, assembled in the womb, and brought to life by the Creator, who commands us to walk in the Spirit.

Genesis tells about the creation of the first man. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7).

Here is a challenge. Find out all the various chemical compounds that make up a human body, then find out what percentage of a human body consists of each compound. Then use that percentage to calculate the amount of each compound that exists in a typical human adult of average size. Measure the proper amounts of each substance, put the stuff all together in a vat, add water, and stir well. Then mold the mixture into the shape of a man and breathe into its nostrils the breath of life, and see if it comes alive.

You might be able to combine all the right chemical compounds with water and sculpt the mixture into a fine-looking man, but you would not be able to bring your sculpture to life. Only God can impart life. God is Spirit and we are flesh.


SPEAKING OF FLESH....

Back in 2010 there was a story in the news about some singer who calls herself Lady Gaga. She shocked the world of celebrities when she appeared at one of her concerts wearing a dress made of raw meat. Animal rights groups were predictably outraged, but Time magazine called Lady Gaga’s meat dress “the top fashion statement of the year.” What was Lady Gaga’s “statement” about? She said it was “about one’s need to fight for what one believes in.”

Personally, I do not see how wearing a dress made of raw meat translates into that statement, unless the thing one believes in is the right of women to gird their loins with raw meat. Whatever....

Nothing personal against Lady Gaga, but when I think of a carnal woman made of flesh, clothed with flesh, wearing a garment of flesh over her flesh, that’s about as fleshly as it gets. The statement I hear from Lady Gaga’s stunt is an echo of the words of Yeshua (Jesus): “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” (John 3:6), and “the flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:63), and an echo of Paul’s words, “in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18).

In Genesis 6:3 God said that man “also is flesh.” Without a genuine personal relationship with God, that is indeed what man is, just a piece of raw flesh, ruled by the flesh, and walking through this world in the flesh until he dies. However, man is destined to be far more than a piece of dying flesh.


CALLED TO BE OVERCOMERS

David says something more after he asks “What is man?” David says, “For Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet. All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowls of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth!” (Ps. 8:5ff).

The writer of Hebrews quotes this passage from Psalms and tells us that man’s dominion over the earth will ultimately come about through the Messiah Yeshua. (See Hebrews 2:6-9.) But it will not be Yeshua disconnected from His body of faithful followers. This dominion of man over the earth will involve a process of “bringing many sons unto glory” (Heb. 2:10). The new earth will be ruled by a many-membered Son, with Yeshua as the Head of that Body.

Those who will rule and reign with Messiah are the overcomers. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Rev. 3:21f).

We have some things we must overcome. Probably the most difficult thing for us to overcome is the flesh. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Gal. 5:17).


OVERCOMING THE FLESH

How do we overcome the lust of the flesh? Paul tells us in the previous verse:

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).

Notice that Paul does not say “First, overcome the lust of the flesh, and then you will be able to walk in the Spirit.” No! He tells us first to walk in the Spirit. If we do that, then we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Some believers try to overcome the lust of the flesh by human will power and sheer determination. They say to themselves, “If I try really, really hard to resist temptation, if I clench my fists and grit my teeth, I can overcome the lust of the flesh. After I overcome the lust of the flesh, then I’ll be able to walk in the Spirit.”

But that approach is backwards. The only way to overcome the lust of the flesh is to walk in the Spirit. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

This is one very important reason to have the Holy Spirit moving in your life. Our faith is much more than just academic, intellectual, scholarly pursuits. If you do not consciously sense God’s Spirit moving in your life on a daily basis, how will you learn to walk in the Spirit? You won’t. You will continue to struggle against the lust of the flesh, because you do not know how to walk in the Spirit.

“Daniel, how do we learn to walk in the Spirit?”

One way we learn to do things is by looking at the Scriptures, as it is written, “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning” (Rom. 15:4), and again it is written, that the stories of the children of Israel in the wilderness “were our examples” and “they are written for our admonition” (1 Cor. 10: 6 & 11).


WAR WITH AMALEK

One story about the children of Israel in the wilderness is the story about the battle between Israel and Amalek. Amalek attacked Israel in Rephidim. While Joshua led the Israelites in battle, Moses stood on top of a hill and interceded for Israel. As long as Moses held up his hands in intercession, Israel prevailed against Amalek. When Moses’ hands grew heavy and tired and he lowered them, Amalek prevailed against Israel. So Aaron and Hur, who were on the hill with Moses, seated Moses on a rock. Then Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ hands until Israel finally defeated Amalek. After the battle, Moses built an altar and said, “Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation” (Ex. 17:8ff).

What can this story teach us about walking in the Spirit and not fulfilling the lust of the flesh? As most Bible readers know, the children of Israel were descendants of Jacob, and the Amalekites were descendants of Esau. And as most readers know, Jacob and Esau were twin brothers. They struggled together as unborn babies in their mother’s womb, they struggled together while exiting the womb when Jacob grabbed the heel of Esau, and they struggled together as adults when Jacob obtained the birthright and the blessing, which Esau expected to receive as the firstborn.

The battle between Israel and Amalek at Rephidim was a continuation of the struggle that started in Rebekah’s womb. And because Esau is the poster boy for those who “mind the things of the flesh” (Rom. 8:5a), while Jacob represents “they who are after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:5b), this struggle between Israel and Amalek is a picture of the inward struggle that we all experience, that internal struggle between the flesh and the Spirit. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Gal. 5:17).

But there is hope in this story. Israel defeated Amalek, and we can overcome the lust of the flesh. Moses raising his arms in intercession reminds us that we have a Prophet like Moses, a great High Priest who constantly intercedes for us in the heavenly tabernacle, as it is written, “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).

The LORD said He would have war with Amalek from generation to generation. The internal struggle between the flesh and the Spirit is experienced by every generation, including ours. But just as Joshua’s army had Moses interceding for them, so we have our great High Priest Yeshua (Jesus) interceding for us. Because of Him, we can overcome the lust of the flesh as surely as Israel overcame Amalek.

We learn to walk in the Spirit by first of all “Looking unto Yeshua, the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). Looking unto our High Priest who ever liveth to make intercession for us gives us the faith and the confidence we need to walk in the Spirit. Because our faith is not in ourselves but in Him, we have confidence that we can do it. We can learn to walk in the Spirit.

Now let’s consider some practical aspects of walking in the Spirit.


WALKING MOVES US FORWARD

We all know what the verb “walk” means in a physical sense.

If I am standing still with both feet on the ground, I am not walking; I am merely standing.

If I keep both feet glued to the ground and flail my arms around and move my head, I am not walking; I am just flailing my arms and moving my head.

If I lift my feet one after another and march in place, I am still not walking; I am just lifting my feet and going nowhere. I am not walking, because walking results in moving forward, going from point A to point B.

Some believers are just “standing” in the Spirit. They have the Holy Spirit because they trust Jesus for their salvation, but they are not walking in the Spirit.

Some believers are “moving” in the Spirit. They are animated. They feel the Spirit moving. They praise the Lord and maybe pray in unknown tongues, but they are not walking in the Spirit.

Some believers are “lifting their feet” in the Spirit. They might experience some manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit. They might receive a word of knowledge, or a word of prophecy, or a revelation from the Spirit. But if the lust of the flesh still overcomes them, if they are not prevailing against the Amalek that lives inside them, they are not walking in the Spirit.

We are commanded to walk in the Spirit, not just stand, or flail our arms, or march in place and go nowhere. Walking is moving from point A to point B.

How do we learn to walk in the Spirit? “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein” (Mark 10:15). Let’s learn from a little child how to walk in the Spirit, by considering the way a little child learns to walk.


LEARNING FROM A CHILD

First, let’s ask an important question. Why does a little child want to walk? Because he wants to get from point A to point B. Why does he want to get to point B? Because at point B there is something he wants. A cookie!

How does the little child know there is a cookie in the kitchen? Because one or more of his physical senses have made him aware that there is a cookie in the kitchen. He has either seen the cookie in his mother’s hand, or heard the familiar crinkling sound of the package being opened, or smelled the cookies baking in the oven. One or more of his physical senses has alerted him to the presence of the cookie in the kitchen. His taste buds are stimulated, he starts salivating and drooling, and he craves and covets that cookie. This desire for the prize motivates him to walk from point A to point B.

Before you can walk in the Spirit, you must have your desire aroused. Your spiritual senses must be stimulated so you will desire the prize. What is the prize for us? It is not a cookie, it is Christ. Romans 10:4 says “Christ is the end of the law.” The Greek noun translated “end” (telos) means the goal or the target. Christ (Messiah) is the goal or the target at which the law aims. Conformity to the likeness and image of Messiah is the target we are aiming for, the goal to become more and more like Him.

The goal is Messiah, but more specifically the glory of Messiah revealed in us. Paul wrote, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:18). This glory is not just revealed “to us,” but “in us.”

The fullness of this manifestation of glory in the sons of God will happen in the future, but in the meantime the Lord expects us to gradually be “changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord,” which we do by “beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).

Our continual beholding of the glory of the Lord is the thing that will stimulate us and motivate us to walk in the Spirit. Just as a little child’s desire to walk is stimulated by something he apprehends with his physical senses, so our desire to walk in the Spirit is stimulated by something we apprehend with our spiritual senses.

Just as a child sees the cookie with his physical eyes, so we see something with our spiritual eyes. Perhaps we witness a miracle. We see a sinner miraculously transformed into a saint. We see an alcoholic become an apostle, a bully become a bishop, a criminal become a Christian, a demonized drug dealer become a disciple and a deacon, an evildoer become an evangelist. A pervert becomes a preacher, a prisoner becomes a pastor, a prostitute becomes a prophetess, a misfit becomes a missionary, a jerk becomes a Jesus Freak, a common welder becomes a church elder. We see people who formerly walked in the flesh and manifested the works of the flesh, but now they are walking in the Spirit and producing the fruit of the Spirit.

We see something that stimulates our desire to walk in the Spirit, or maybe we hear something. Just as a child hears the package of cookies being opened, so we hear something with our spiritual ears. It goes straight to our heart, and it arouses in us a desire to draw nearer to the Lord. Perhaps it is something we hear in a sermon, a testimony, a Bible passage, a song, a prayer, a word of prophecy. We hear it and we want to move forward in our walk.

Or maybe we “smell” something. Just as a child smells the cookies baking in the oven, so we “smell” the presence of the Lord with our spiritual sense of smell. Paul said that God “maketh manifest the savour [i.e., the smell, the fragrance] of His knowledge by us in every place” (2 Cor. 2:14). When we are in the presence of someone who has a close walk with the Lord, we can intuitively sense the presence of the Lord. Just as a hungry child salivates and drools and covets the cookie that he smells, so we salivate and drool and say, “I want a close walk with the Lord too!”

A little toddler will not walk to the kitchen without a desire for the cookie, and you will not walk in the Spirit unless you desire a close walk with the Lord. We can motivate one another to seek a closer walk with the Lord by our words, our testimonies, our prayers, and our service to one another. This is one reason that in-person fellowship with real live people is so very important.

After you are sufficiently motivated to walk in the Spirit, keep in mind that Paul said “Walk in the Spirit.” He did not say “Fly in the Spirit.” We are humans, not birds. We have legs, not wings. Paul did not say “Float in the Spirit.” Floating requires no effort, no labor on our part. The Bible says “we are labourers together with God” (1 Cor. 3:9). Our salvation is not earned by our labors, “it is the gift of God, not of works” (Eph. 2:8f). Our eternal life does not come from our labor, but our eternal rewards do indeed come from our labor, as it is written, “every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour” (1 Cor. 3:8).

Walking requires labor. When a little child first stands on his own, he has to maintain his balance by keeping equal weight on both feet. Then he has to labor to learn how to walk. He shifts his weight to his left foot, then swings his right foot forward like he has seen adults do. As he does this, the weight on his left foot shifts from the heel to the toes. As his right foot settles on the floor, his left leg swings forward, and the process repeats itself. Of course he is not consciously thinking in words about the mechanics of walking, but he is learning to walk through trial and error.

Learning to walk is tricky, and learning to walk in the Spirit is even trickier. The little child is going to stumble while learning to walk, and you likewise are going to occasionally stumble while learning to walk in the Spirit, as it is written, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

In spite of the stumbles, the little child keeps his eyes on the goal, the cookie. And in spite of your stumbles, you must likewise keep your eyes on the goal, the glory of the Lord being manifested in you.

The little child instinctively knows that the shortest path from point A to point B is a straight line between those two points. He does not need some Greek guy named Archimedes to tell him that. Even a bee knows to make a beeline to the flower. And we should know that our beeline is the narrow way that leadeth unto life.


DIVERSIONS & DISTRACTIONS

When the little child starts walking toward the cookie, if there is someone who does not want him to have the cookie, they will try to distract him, to get his mind off the cookie and his feet off the path that leads to the cookie. When you start walking in the Spirit, your Adversary the devil does not want you to reach your goal. He does not want you to be transformed into the image of Messiah. He will try to distract you and get your eyes off the prize and your feet off the narrow path. He will try to lead you away from the path with tangents. Anyone who has read Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress knows what I am talking about.

You must ignore all the devil’s diversions and distractions, and keep your eyes on Yeshua, our High Priest who is interceding for us in the heavenly tabernacle, just as Moses interceded for Israel as they fought against Amalek.

Moses’ arms grew heavy and tired, his intercession ceased, and Amalek prevailed. Your spiritual legs may get heavy and tired, your walking in the Spirit may cease, and the flesh will prevail. When that happens, remember what Aaron and Hur did. First, they seated Moses on a rock. Then they supported Moses’ arms.

What is the significance of Moses being seated on a rock? It is a reminder that Yeshua is seated at the right hand of God, and that we are seated together with Him, as it is written, God “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together with Him in the heavenly places in Messiah Yeshua” (Eph. 2:6).

What is the significance of Aaron and Hur supporting and strengthening Moses’ arms? This is a reminder that there are two things that will support and strengthen your spiritual legs when they get tired.

“Daniel, what are the two things that will support and strengthen my spiritual legs?”

In short, Spirit and Truth. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Over the years I have written and taught a lot about the importance of maintaining a balance of Spirit and Truth in our personal walk with the Lord, i.e., a balance of prayer (“Spirit”) and Bible study (“Truth”). Neglecting either of these two disciplines will make your walk imbalanced and lopsided. And imbalanced, lopsided people often stumble.

Someone once asked a preacher, “Which is more important, prayer or Bible study?”

The preacher replied, “Which is more important, breathing in or breathing out?”

Walking in the Spirit, like walking in the physical realm, involves constantly transitioning from the left foot to the right foot. Breathing also involves constantly transitioning, from inhaling to exhaling. As you transition from prayer (“Spirit”) to the Word (“Truth”), you walk in the Spirit. You “breathe in” the Word, and you “breathe out” your prayers.


WALKING WITHOUT FOCUSING ON THE MECHANICS

After a little child gets the hang of walking, it becomes second nature to him. He no longer has to carefully focus on the mechanics of walking. Walking soon comes so naturally to him that he can multitask. He can walk and chew gum (or a cookie) at the same time.

So we, as we get the hang of walking in the Spirit, it eventually becomes second nature to us. We can pray and meditate on the Word while we are doing other things. Our walking in the Spirit still requires effort and labor on our part, but it is not a constant struggle against the lust of the flesh, because our spiritual legs have grown strong through prayer and the Word.

As long as you live in a mortal body of flesh, you must consistently spend time in the Word and in prayer. If you stop spending time in the Word and in prayer, you will stop walking forward and you will stagnate. You will become a branch without fruit. You will wither and die.

Yeshua is the Vine and we are the branches. The branches receive life from the Vine, but that life flows into us only as we spend time in the Word and in prayer. As our spiritual legs are thereby strengthened, walking in the Spirit becomes second nature to us. Just like a child who has learned to walk no longer has to focus on the “how to” mechanics of walking, and just simply walks, so we can walk in the Spirit without needing to focus on the mechanics of it. We simply walk in the Spirit, and things happen.

Often when I am alone, I find myself quietly praising the Lord, either with words from the Psalms or with words of my own, without even being aware of when I started. It happens spontaneously, almost unconsciously. Often I find myself quietly praying in unknown tongues or singing in tongues, which the Bible calls praying and singing “with the Spirit” (1 Cor. 14:15). Why do I find myself praying in the Spirit and singing in the Spirit? Because I am walking in the Spirit!

As you walk in the Spirit, you will bear the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22f).

The law does not condemn a person who bears the fruit of the Spirit, because a person who bears the fruit of the Spirit is walking in the Spirit, and a person who is walking in the Spirit is walking in obedience to the law of God. The law condemns the disobedient, not the obedient, as it is written, “the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient” (1 Tim. 1:9).

Learn to walk in the Spirit. Keep your spiritual legs strong through consistent, daily prayer and Bible reading. Serve the Lord in other ways, too, but don’t be like Martha, who “was cumbered about much serving.” Be like Mary, who “sat at Yeshua’s feet, and heard His word,” a choice which Yeshua said was “needful” and “that good part.” (See Luke 10:38-42.)

If you walk in the Spirit, you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Then you will be free to spend your time laying up treasures in heaven, as our Master commanded us to do. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matt. 6:19f).


| DB

 

Image: Psalm 8 by Daniel Botkin from his Psurrealistic Psalms gallery. See this series and all Daniel’s are pieces on his art website, DanielBotkin.com.

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