“The flesh is untrainable. It’s like a wild ass. According to Galatians 4, the flesh is like Ishmael, a bondservant that’s always trying to work for a wage and persecute the children of promise, and it’s eventually cast out. And remember, Ishmael was a wild ass of a man, and his hand was against all of his brethren (Gen 16:12). That’s what we are. We’re fighters. The flesh is a fighter, and according to Galatians 5, it wages war against the spirit. So the old creation is fighting the new creation, and you don’t get to the new creation by building up the old. It’s not a ladder to success; it’s a checkmate to failure, and then you carry around with you the brokenness that comes from being reminded every day of all your failures (Gal 5:16-17). When we read the story of Israel, and we see him going here and there, and he’s such a mighty man. He’s got his twelve sons; everybody respected and feared them, and he is blessed. “The Israel of God”.
But from his perspective, he thought, “I am the worst testimony for this God that no one knows. My life is a wreck. Look at my four wives. Look at these kids. They just killed everyone at Schehem. In fact, he lived for many years under the impression that his own kids killed Joseph. I mean, if Shechem wasn’t bad enough, he thought his kids killed his favorite. Maybe he thought, “I shouldn’t have even had a favorite in the first place! Maybe if I hadn’t set him up with that stupid jacket, they wouldn’t have hated him so much!” And it was interesting because it was an echo of how he had deceived Isaac by putting on raiment that felt like Esau’s when he swindled him out of the birthright. In like manner, his sons took a goat fur and sprinkled blood all over it and came and told him an animal had done it. But he probably always wondered. (Gen 37:23-33). As evidence that Joseph had been killed, it’s really interesting how we tend to reap what we sow. That’s not God’s justice, but it’s because we learn who we are through all these things.
My kid is going through things right now that are because of my character in the past. They’re an echo of my character and a reminder of my character. I can’t have anything to boast in, and that’s how Jacob was. Don’t think that just because he was a great and mighty man, he had anything to boast in. When he saw Pharaoh, Pharaoh said, “How old are you?” And Jacob replied, “I’ve lived too long, 120 years old, and most of them have been miserable.” That is the opposite of a zealous believer who boasts that he has been serving the Lord for 10 years, saying, “I’m really blessed because I tithe, keep all the commandments, and I’m so good. You should be like me. Enjoy my Bible study.” No, there’s a brokenness that God works into His people.
This is how God makes the new creation happen. The new flows out from God as living water as a drink, but your flesh isn’t going to drink it. In fact, your flesh is going to resist it. Well, how does God overcome that? Through reasoning with you? Saying, “You really need to drink the living water. It’s so good, try it?” No, that doesn’t work. The flesh is opposed to it more. He talks about the living water, the less you’re going to want it when you’re in the flesh. You’d probably say, “Get that crap away from me!” What He does is He works all things together for your good, and He’s a high priest. He’s come to you with bread and wine, but you’re not going to eat or drink it.
How does He get the bread and wine to you? Well, he’s got to get your mouth open. The way to get the mouth open is to squeeze the nose! You know why? Squeeze your nose, and you can’t breathe out, but you can open your mouth. Now, stick the living water in there. That’s how He deals with us. You guys that are new believers might think, “that’s not how I feel. The Bible tells us what to do, and we do it. And when we do it right, that’s when we are drinking.”
But the people who have been around for a while are saying, “Nope. Every day, my failures crop up in front of my face, and God holds my nose with them, and my mouth is forced open. And I have to drink.” Maybe not every day, maybe you’re still strong enough to go a couple of weeks before He can wrestle you to the ground to get you to drink. But this is how He deals with us, and that’s how He dealt with Paul, and in a much more severe way. Paul was given a dispensation of the grace of God for the Gentiles, and to get him to write every word, he had to bring him to the living water, forcing his mouth open by “holding his nose!”