Part 4 of 50
The garden in the story is you. For every believer, you’re comprised of at least these three parts. You have a flesh component, a mental component, and a spiritual component. Let’s explore the flesh, spirit, and mind each in turn.
Thorns, weeds, rocks, and vines represent your flesh and everything that comes with it. Your flesh has desires. Your greatest resources are your time and your talents. If your flesh was allowed to have its way, it would use your talents all the time to get whatever it desires. Just like the thorns and weeds, the flesh will soak up all of the resources it’s allowed to have.
In Jesus' parable of the crop field, he says that the thorny vines are the things that distract people with worries, pleasures, and even riches. Those are the kinds of things the flesh wants—the flesh worries about getting pleasure and getting rich. So, just like the thorns and weeds are in a battle, your flesh is hostile to anything that gets in its way.
Paul tells us what some of the fruits of the flesh are, Committing sexual sin, being morally bad, doing all kinds of shameful things, worshiping false gods, taking part in witchcraft, hating people, causing trouble, being jealous, angry, or selfish, causing people to argue and divide into separate groups, being filled with envy, getting drunk, having wild parties, and doing other things like this.
Even weeds bear a kind of fruit. The fruit that the weedy flesh bears is awful. It will wreck you if you let it continue unchecked. This is true of many believers who have let the weeds grow. The thorny plants that will develop in your life bear a terrible kind of seed. Those seeds fall and grow more of the same. It's a vicious cycle that we must fight against. I mentioned three parts. Let's look at your next part.
The second part of you is your mind, represented by the soil in the story. Just as the soil is the battlefield, so too is your mind.
Before you became a believer, your mind was automatically an ally of your flesh. Just like the soil supports weeds and thorns, the mindset supports flesh-desires exclusively for unbelievers. The unbeliever's mind is close friends with the flesh. All kinds of desires grow in the soil of the mind. Before you were a believer, you would use your mind to find extra clever ways to get what your flesh wanted. You could even do this in ways that made it look like you were doing good. The mind and the flesh are a deadly combination. That's why Paul said, the mindset of the flesh is death.
It wasn't until you became a believer that the third part of you rose from the dead-spiritual ruins. The fruit tree sapling in the story represents the never-ending spiritual life that God placed inside of you the moment you believed. That fruit tree has a powerful purpose. It has an ultimate goal, which we will talk about in the next chapter. In the same way that the fruit tree sapling is at war with the weeds, your spiritual life is in direct competition with your flesh. Why? You might ask.
Because both the fruit tree and the weeds grow in the same soil, your spirit and your flesh are fighting for the same resource, your mind. They are planted in the same dirt. They are warring to gain control of your mind, which is represented by the soil. Just like the soil can either support thorns or fruit-bearing crops, your mind can align with the flesh and allow it to grow, or it can align with the Spirit and allow your inner spiritual life to grow.
The inner spiritual person, which God has brought to life in you, cannot sin. However, your flesh absolutely can sin. Did you catch that? The inner spirit cannot sin, but your flesh does. Maybe you begin to see the problem. Thus, the inner war.
Your sinful flesh and your sinless spirit are at war, and your mind is caught between. The part of you that thinks, is the battleground. As long as the flesh is winning the war, there will be a lack of joy, peace, love, patience, kindness, and the rest. The greedy weeds and thorns suck all of the nutrients out of the soil and block any precious sunlight from getting through. Your flesh wants nothing more than to occupy your mind all the time so that nothing good can grow. If your mind stays aligned with the flesh, you'll have the fruits of the flesh growing in your life. It's an ugly business.
Paul was talking about this when he said, when I want to do what is right; I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Paul said this as a saved believer. If Paul experienced this, so can we.
When your mind is allied with your flesh, it is at war with your spirit and makes your mind enemy territory for God. Can you believe it? All of this is happening inside of you! Hopefully, you're beginning to see why things are the way they are.
Do you experience a lack of peace and joy in your life? Do you experience an abundance of negative emotions? Do you have a lot less patience and kindness than you think you should possess? Are you struggling to gain self-control over certain sins? These are signs that your mind has allied with your flesh and that both are at war with your spirit.
Remember the mindset of the flesh is death. Your eternal life can never be taken away now that it's been placed inside of you. Your spiritual never-ending life can never die. However, your chance at an abundant and fulfilling life dies a little more every time your mind is aligned with the flesh. A lack of peace and joy will grow the longer your mind stays focused there.
It’s time we learned the ultimate goal of our life. This is an invaluable tool in the fight against the flesh.