“Keep watch and pray… For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” (Matt 26:41, NLT). In the second half of this verse, Jesus points out two parts of a human being – the body (also known as the flesh) and the spirit. Often we use the words spirit and soul interchangeably, but Hebrews 12:4 tells us that “the word of God … is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit…” Our soul relates to our mind, intellect, and personality. Our spirit is that new creation born within us as a result of receiving Jesus as our Lord and Savior (John 3:6). As we have talked about our identities in Christ, it is our spirits that perfectly display each aspect of that identity. Try to recount (without looking ahead) the different parts of your identity in Christ. You can recite them … write them down … whatever works for you.
Here’s my attempt – without cheating (beforehand) or editing (afterward).
- I am a part of Christ’s body – that is, in the marriage relationship of Christ and His bride, the church (Eph 5:29-30).
- I am set free from the power of sin that leads to death (Rom 8:2).
- There is no condemnation (Rom 8:1).
- We are all one in Christ Jesus – neither male nor female, slave nor free, Jew nor Greek (Gal 3:28).
- I am sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13).
- I have been brought near to God through the blood of Jesus Christ (Eph 2:13).
- I am being (more and more progressively) brought under Christ’s authority (Eph 1:10-11).
- Through Christ, I am the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21).
- In the third bullet point, I should have included that no condemnation awaits me.
How did you do? For those of you who are saying, “She didn’t tell me I needed to say/memorize the verse addresses.” Don’t worry about it! I included them for the sake of verification and also to encourage you to connect the address to the description as well. If you could only remember one or two, well then, at least you have a foundation to work from. For those of you who couldn’t list any of those above … if you are already my brother or sister in Christ, then it has been my privilege to point out to you some of the traits we share!
We may never look like each other in our physical bodies, but we have identical spirits – the very Spirit of God (1 Cor 3:16). The key to being able to consistently walk (physically) according to the direction of the Spirit is to get two against one. Our minds are either in agreement with our spirits or they are in agreement with our flesh. Going back to the opening verse, “Keep watch and pray… For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” (Matt 26:41). Jesus had been begging Peter, and James, and John to “keep watch.” This required mental clarity. When Jesus returned, he found all three asleep. Their minds had agreed with their bodies, choosing sleep over what their spirits desired – focused prayer.
So how in the world does this relate to this past Sunday’s lesson? Honestly as I began writing today, I wasn’t sure that it would, and yet here we are. Turn to Acts 17 and read verses 10-12. Luke (the writer of Acts) describes the Bereans as “more open-minded than” the Thessalonians (Acts 17:11). Reason being? “They listened eagerly to Paul’s message.” (vs. 11). In Thessalonica, however, not all of them listened, and then only “some … who listened were persuaded…” (Acts 17:4). The Bereans had their minds in agreement with their spirits, and as a result their bodies followed suit in that “they searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.” (Acts 17:11-12, emphasis mine).
If you read on through verse 14 (which we did in Sunday school), you’ll see that the mind-body agreement, which the majority of the Thessalonian Jews had, led them to pursue Paul to Berea. Their minds would not let their bodies be still.
Where are you today? What is your two against one? Is your willing spirit being held hostage by your weak body because of what your mind is in agreement with (Matt 26:41)? If that’s the way you feel, I want to encourage you today with another trait we have inherited through Christ – “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). The key is to “let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think…” (emphasis mine). Allow God to get your mind in agreement with His Holy Spirit and there will be no limit to what He will be able to do … through you for His glory. Amen.