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Chapter 18 - The end of flesh
We can see that all flesh ends in death. The Greeks expended much thought wrangling with various philosophies of how to maximize the pleasures of the flesh. Seeing nothing beyond the grave, they understandably saw obtaining the greatest pleasure in this life as the best they could hope for.
However, even maximum pleasures ultimately fail to satisfy. There is a world weariness summarized by the character in a movie who said that he could participate in any romantic activity with an urbanity born of disinterest.
Having a family and children begins to draw us out of the gloomy end selfishness brings us to. Even if a person has never heard of God, he can recognize the soul satisfying reward of giving to his children and receiving their thanks and affection. In a way, familial love and affection point towards the love God extends to us.
Christ is our example in all things. His example of selfless love when he laid his life down for our sakes is the ultimate example of selflessness.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. - Philippians 2:6-8
The flesh resists the loss of all that it values. The death of self and the surrender of all that we have is the only way to receive all that God has to give us. All that life can give us will pass away. All that God can give us will last forever.
As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand. - Ecclesiastes 5:15
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: - Matthew 6:20
All flesh ends in death. Without the salvation and eternal life found in Jesus, our dying bodies would drag our souls into the second death. As Christians, we can escape this fate because we have a reconstituted spirit by which we have within us the life of Christ and thus eternal life.
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.—1 John 5:13
Dying to self and selfishness is part of the process of Christian maturity. It is not with teeth clenched that we summon the steely determination to quash the flesh. It is with brokenness and a humble heart that we acknowledge our need for help.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.—Hebrews 4:16
All too often in our Christian life we come to regard our spiritual life as similar to fairy tales, space aliens, and ghosts. It is something we have a slight familiarity with, but is so distant from our actual lives that it seems fanciful and irrelevant.
Life in this body of flesh will end.
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. - 1 Corinthians 15:42-44
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.—1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
We know that riches are deceitful, that there will be false teachers, and that the world will hate us. We can even be deceived with our own sin.
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. - Hebrews 3:13
For the Christian who desires to advance in his faith, the first step is to see Jesus as substantive and living within us. We have to come to the point of view that Jesus is real and the life he offers us is real. There are forces that would have us see the artificial world Satan has crafted as real and Christianity as some fiction.
The sword of truth can free us from the deceptions that would keep us from drawing nearer our Lord. We need to consider this within the context of how short our life really is.
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.—Ephesians 5:16
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