Maybe your parents always told you that you are the best and the brightest. You are the smartest and the sharpest. You are the best-looking and the kindest. Maybe they always told you that you did great things. Maybe you made tenth place in your athletic event, but your parents still went all-out with the praise: “Good job for trying! We’re so proud of you. You’re so awesome.” Maybe they always spoke positive and encouraging words, even when you failed. If you got an F on your test, they would say, “It’s okay. It’s no big deal. You're still smart and sharp. You’re the sharpest and the brightest.” The truth, however, is that there’s a lack of understanding lurking underneath this kind of praise.
The truth is that we’re made up of three parts: body, soul, and spirit. In your spirit, all of that awesome and amazing stuff is true. In our spirits, we are perfect. We couldn’t be more perfect. Our spirits are seated at the right hand of Jesus Christ as finished works. Our spirits are perfect masterpieces, chosen, holy, blameless, and so loved. In the eyes of God, our sins are far removed from us. But while we are on this earth, our bodies and our souls, or our minds, are being renewed in the likeness of Jesus Christ every single day.
Our job on this earth is to tame and renew our minds so they come in line with the Holy Spirit. Our job is to train up the body to come in line with the spirit. Our job is to command the body to stop craving the desires of this world, like sexual immorality and quick fixes. Our job is to train ourselves not to be emotion-led but to be spirit-led. We need to understand that when our emotions flare, this tells us we have a trust issue with God. We need to pause and seek God and pray, “God, why am I so angry about this? Father, why am I so sad? Help me to align my emotions with You, God.”
Emotions are like a dashboard in a car. Sometimes a yellow light will show up on your dashboard and indicate “low fuel.” Everybody knows what to do when that happens: go to the gas station. No problem. Well, sometimes a light comes on and it’s a “check engine” warning. That may spark a panic attack in you or at least cause you some anxiety because you start worrying, “I don’t have the time or the money to go have my engine replaced. Am I going to have to replace my car?” Your mind automatically starts to churn through all of the terrible possibilities because car problems are expensive.
But that reaction is not what the car manufacturer intended. The purpose of the dashboard is to tell you there’s a problem. It lets you know not to continue on this trip any longer until you have this problem checked out, or else you may end up with a bigger problem. It’s a warning system to alert you, “Hey, you need to check the engine. There is a problem.” The car manufacturer didn't put the system in place to frustrate you or cause you to have anxiety or a panic attack. It’s meant to help you.
God did the same thing with our emotions. He gave us a yellow light to tell us, “Wait a minute. There may be a problem here. Don’t go any further. Stop blabbing your mouth. Don’t tell someone off. Just stop and pause and check the engine.” Instead of an engine check, we need to do a heart check. Ask God, “Show me what I’m missing and help me to see why this is causing me to get so flared up.”
Our job on this earth is to work continuously on getting our emotions and our will in line with the Holy Spirit. God has work that He wants you to do. He has called you. He has chosen you. He pulled you out before you were born, plucked you right out, to do work. The truth is that you can say “no” or you can say “yes.” God sets out the option for you, and it’s your choice to make.
So, what is your decision? If we choose to love God, then every day we constantly have to conform our will to God’s. Think of Jonah. God told him to go to Nineveh, but he was like, “Whatever. I’m not going to line up my will with yours, God. I’m going to Tarshish instead. I’m going to do what I want to do.”
Our job on this earth is to stop and listen to God and say, “God, I want to do what You want me to do.” It’s like someone telling you to go to 7-Eleven, and you go right away to 7-Eleven. It’s like if someone tells you to turn left out of your neighborhood instead of right today, and you simply follow the directions. Maturity in the faith is learning to obey at the very moment God speaks and not to delay.
Our job is to reconcile our mind and our will to the Holy Spirit’s perfection continuously. We need to continue to say “yes” to the will of God. We need to continue to be refined by fire and to make the hard decisions. Even if we don’t want to do what God calls us to do, we need to choose to do it anyway simply because it’s what God wants. We need to get our flesh in line with the Holy Spirit.
It’s time to tell your body what’s what: “Body, you’re not going to sit here and lie to me and tell me what God says to do is wrong because you don’t feel like doing it. I command you to listen up and obey the Holy Spirit. I’m not going to be sexually impure anymore. I refuse to use my eyes for purposes for which they were not designed. I refuse to use my body for anything for which it was not designed by God. I refuse to allow pain to rule me and get in the way of my doing the work of God. I refuse. Body, you listen up to the voice of the Holy Spirit!”
The reality is that sometimes the human body and soul fail. That’s true of Christians, not just unbelievers. We make mistakes because we’re human and we’re being transformed. We’re in the process of being transformed. Because we’re being transformed and we’re still in the process, we’re going to fail.
If you were raised by parents who never let you see your failures or who caught you every time before you failed, they were doing you an injustice. If you are a parent who catches your kids before they fail or never lets them see their failures, you’re doing them a complete disservice because you’re not preparing them for the reality of living in this world as imperfect beings. Your children will hurt later when they fail. They won’t know how to respond to failure or how to handle negative criticism from an employer or spouse or their own children. They may get mad or fall apart or run away. Prepare your children with the truth so they will know how to handle life when they’re no longer under your protection.
The truth is that your spirit is perfect but your body and your soul are not. It’s your imperfection that reminds you how much you need the Savior to get through every day. Your failures help you to understand that you always need to say “yes” to God’s will over your own. It gives you a dependency on God when you know you fail without Him.
Failing doesn’t mean you are a failure. Instead, failing means you did something that missed the perfect mark of what God asked you to do. Failing means you did something without giving a hundred percent of your heart to the Lord and serving Him. Failing is doing life on your own, apart from God. Failing is leaning into your emotions and giving way to them; it’s yelling at your children or your spouse or your friends and taking out your anger and inadequacies on them. Failing is not recognizing that you are still human and you need to make the decisions God has asked you to make so you can be transformed into His likeness in every area and your body and soul can be brought into submission to the Holy Spirit.
You need to understand that you are made up of body, soul, and spirit. Your spirit is perfect in Christ. You are a masterpiece, God’s workmanship. When you know who you are and you stand firm in it, it’s way easier to bring your body and your soul into submission to God.
You can say, “Hey, soul, stop trying to go your own way. Stop trying to be emotion-led, because God is worthy and He has made me a masterpiece. I’m going to stand in my identity in Christ. I am a chosen, loved, holy, blameless person of God, and I am going to stand fully in that truth. I refuse to go my own way. I refuse to live out of my emotions. I refuse to let the sun go down on my anger tonight because my Father, who has named me and adopted me, is worthy. I refuse to allow my body to command me or lust to rule me or selfish ambition to take me places where God never intended for me to go.”
Pray every day, “Father, I want to stand in who You say I am. I want to bring my body and soul into submission to You. In Jesus’ name, I bind all these. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.”