It Is So Easy for Us to Lean on the Arm of Flesh

by | Oct 7, 2022 | Jesus & the Gospel, Spirit-Led Living, Spiritual Warfare

Read Time: 4 Minutes 1 Second

It was a problem for Israel in the Old Testament and for believers in the New Testament. And it is a problem for followers of Jesus to this day. I’m speaking about our tendency to lean on the arm of the flesh, to look to people to do what only God can do. It remains a very serious and real danger.

The Lord said this through the prophet Jeremiah: “Thus says the LORD: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.'”

In stark contrast, He said, “‘Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.'” (Jer. 17:5–8)

In the New Testament, Jesus said to His disciples, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life,” (John 6:63). And Paul asked in Galatians 3:3, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

What does it look like when we lean on the flesh?

Let’s say you’re a pastor leading your congregation into a new building program. The Lord speaks to your heart, “Share the vision with your people, and trust Me to bring in the funds.”

But when the money is not coming in fast enough, you put your church into massive debt by taking on a large loan and getting a second mortgage on your current building.

Or let’s say that you’re an actor called to Hollywood to make a positive impact on the film industry. The Lord reminds you, “Never compromise your standards and remember always to honor Me. I will open the doors.”

But after refusing several roles because of the compromise involved, you take your agent’s advice and do some raunchy sex scenes in the hope of getting bigger roles in the future.

These are just a few of many ways that we can lean on the flesh.

One of the biggest challenges we face today—and one that I focused on in “The Political Seduction of the Church“—is to put our trust in the political system to do what only the gospel can do.

As one of my colleagues wrote to me from Europe, “I would love it if we had a government, or governments, that were Christian. Like Paul said in 1 Timothy 2, so WE can live a peaceful and quiet life. Nevertheless, I never thought that it is the government that can release the captives, save the lost, heal the sick, raise the dead. NEVER. It can only be a vehicle of peace for us to operate.”

Exactly.

Politics is important, and it is important the church stay involved politically—very important.

We should be informed and we should vote. We should hold our elected officials accountable. Some should even run for office or work in lobbying organizations. Our presence is important and vital for the good of the nation.

But the political realm can only go far.

It cannot change hearts or transform lives. It cannot bring lasting reformation. It cannot replace or replicate or compete with the gospel.

Politics operates on a natural, fleshly level. The gospel operates on a spiritual level, even while it works through each of us.

But the role of one is not the role of the other, and the power of one is not the power of the other.

To confuse them is to guarantee failure, especially when we put so much emotion and passion and energy and effort into winning elections, even to the neglect of our personal devotions or our outreach to our communities. How can this be?

As T. L. Osborn (1923-2013) said many years ago when he spoke in Ukraine at a time the nation was under communism, “We Christians and Bible preachers are the best thing the Ukraine’s got. They’re trying to make bad people good. Politics can’t do that. Parliamentarians can’t make people good. God can make bad people good, but you’ve got to have powerful preachers, and that’s what we are.”

That’s the great need in America today: for the church to be healthy, displaying the character and beauty of the Lord and for the gospel to be preached in power, making bad people good.

So, let’s vote and be politically responsible. There’s no reason for any of us to be sideline spectators when it comes to critical elections that could affect our children’s children.

But let’s keep our perspectives clear, and let’s put our trust where it belongs.

It is the gospel first and foremost, with all its claims on our lives. And is faith in God to do what only He can do.

And yes, let’s get out the vote too. {eoa}

Dr. Michael Brown (askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is “Revival Or We Die: A Great Awakening Is Our Only Hope.” Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Messianic Rabbi: For Crying Out Loud

Messianic Rabbi: For Crying Out Loud

The crossing of the Red Sea is one of the most powerful and miraculous events that we read about in the Bible. Just thinking about the millions of Israelites and the mixed multitude walking up to the sea with the Egyptian army chasing them. They had just experienced...

The Lord Says, ‘Don’t Speak Words of Self-Sabotage’

The Lord Says, ‘Don’t Speak Words of Self-Sabotage’

One of the most important things a Christian can learn is that our God is a God who speaks. He wants us to know we can hear His voice. Prophecy is the basis for an on-going relationship with God. It deepens our walk and releases God’s power in the earth. Here is a...

The Foul Smell of Rot From Washington DC

The Foul Smell of Rot From Washington DC

One of the enduring conceits of our time is that we still have a semi-functioning two-party system in American politics. Most people still don't believe their lying eyes. They can smell the rot in Washington, DC, as far away as Sitka, Alaska. But they have been so...

How Believers Can Work Together to Restore Pre-COVID America

How Believers Can Work Together to Restore Pre-COVID America

On April 16, 2021, I traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the request of a local business leader, Clay Clark. He asked me to speak at a conference focused on ending the COVID lockdowns. Clay is a business coach and entrepreneur who'd seen his clients' businesses devastated...

What Is Your Prophetic Warning?

What Is Your Prophetic Warning?

God wants to anoint you with His grace through your unique prophetic wiring to impact the body of Christ in the place He has called you! He will do that in as many diverse ways as there are people, personalities, and gift mixes across the face of the earth. I cannot...

The Lord Says, ‘It’s Payback Time’

The Lord Says, ‘It’s Payback Time’

If you’ve been following any of my recent posts, you’re probably aware that my husband and I are selling the property we’ve lived on for the past 21 years and buying a ranch. Interestingly, we have also been led to engage in three other real estate transactions at...

RECENT ARTICLES

Charisma Highlights: Prophetic Dream? Dolly Parton’s New Song Issues Staunch Warning to Believers

Following are snippets of the top new stories posted over the past week on charismamag.com. We encourage you to visit the links to read the stories in full. Prophetic Dream? Dolly Parton's New Song...
Discerning False Prophets and Delusions with Mario Murillo

Discerning False Prophets and Delusions with Mario Murillo

My longtime friend Mario Murillo is providing a critical role in the body of Christ in speaking up against the wolves in sheep clothing. Matthew Henry said, "A traitor inside the camp is more dangerous than 1,000 persecutors outside the camp." Christians want to be...

Is America Destined to Become Like Sodom and Gomorrah?

Is America Destined to Become Like Sodom and Gomorrah?

Sodom and Gomorrah were real cities and real people lived there. These were notoriously sinful cities that God warned but eventually destroyed because of their wickedness (Gen. 19:24). These cities, infamous for their debauchery and homosexuality, are mentioned 23...

How to Get Rid of Guilt Forever

How to Get Rid of Guilt Forever

Are you bugged by a guilty conscience … carrying around baggage from a certain mistake or decision that produces feelings of regret or even self-loathing? We’ve all said or done things that we wish we could take back. And while it’s completely natural to grieve over a...

4 Tips to Fix Your Christian Marriage Problems

4 Tips to Fix Your Christian Marriage Problems

Christian married couples, like everyone else in the world, can have their ups and downs. The pressures at work, home and family can mount a pile so high you barely see your spouse on the other side. God created marriage and He longs for you to have a healthy,...

Stock.adobe.com

Pin It on Pinterest