KEY TEXT: John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”
KEY THOT: Jesus makes a clear distinction between Spirit and flesh—the Spirit gives life but the flesh is of “no avail.” Paul makes the same distinction too when he exhorts the Galatians to “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Gal. 5:16-17). Jesus goes on to say that “the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life”.
Clearly, we have to walk and work by the inspiration of the Spirit if our words are to impart life rather than death. The flesh (the unregenerated self) includes not only the sinful aspects (“works of the flesh" -Gal. 5:19-21) but also the noble ones too: “though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness, under the law blameless” (Phil 3:4-6). Paul considers his accomplishments apart from the Spirit (pedigree background, strict religious upbringing, education and zeal in the law and moral uprightness) as “flesh”. Yet, many of us boast in the “flesh” when it comes to ministry and service for the Lord, not realizing that the flesh is “of no avail”—no power to impart life. Only the words spoken under inspiration and anointing of the Spirit can give life.
I need to constantly be careful not to allow my own education and knowledge—religious or otherwise—make me think that I am more effective in ministry than someone who is less endowed in terms of “flesh” accomplishments, for these things, apart from the Spirit, cannot impart life—in fact, the words arising from such are often dead spiritually, apart from the Spirit. It might impress the flesh in others but will not give life. So, I must learn to rely on the Spirit’s inspiration and revelation more than my education and scholastic accomplishments.
Father, fill me daily with Your Spirit so I may walk and minister by the power of Spirit, not in the energy of the flesh. Amen.