Just before His arrest, Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, and He said to His disciples, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” MattHew 26:41
A popular scripture that we use often to explain (justify) why we’re not doing the things we know to do is this:
“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Maybe you’ve used this scripture yourself to explain why you can’t do something.
This scripture is taken from the gospel of Matthew. This conversation takes place right after the Last Supper. Judas had left the dinner to orchestrate the betrayal of Jesus, and now we find Jesus agonizing in the garden of Gethsemane. He is talking to the disciples (specifically Peter) and is warning him about the weakness of his physical body as he grows sleepy and reminds him how easily his body will give in to temptations.
if we apply this scripture in Matthew 24:41 to the context of your weight loss journey, it means that you may really want to exercise or eat well, but you’re just not able to muster up the energy/discipline/motivation or drive to actually do it.
The struggle is real for us too. We WANT to exercise or start eating healthy, but we just can’t seem to get ourselves motivated enough to actually take action.
The ‘flesh’ Jesus referred to in the scripture above is our physical body with its appetites, desires, and weaknesses. It is always looking for the easy way out. Your flesh easily gives in to temptation. Your flesh will always overpower your spirit if you don’t watch and pray as Jesus instructed the disciples to do as was the case with the disciples.
Here are a few strategies that you can use to help make your flesh more willing.
How to Make Your Flesh More Willing
Jesus prepared the disciples by telling them to pray.
The struggle was real for Jesus too! He just finished practicing this same principle with the disciples. We learn in the earlier verses that his flesh was failing him, so he prayed to God to be strengthened. The Bible says, “And after going a little farther, He fell face down and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible [that is, consistent with Your will], let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matt. 26:39). The same God that strengthened Jesus when he prayed to Him is the same God that will strengthen you during your periods of weakness, trials, and temptation.
You will give in to temptation when you’re not ‘standing on guard’.
You need to guard your minds and your emotions like a hen taking care of her chicks. If you let anything into your mind, it will wear down your spirit, so be mindful who you talk to, and what you listen to on the TV, radio, or the internet.
- Are you spending time with people who bring you down or build you up–‘leaners’ or ‘lifters’?
- Do you continue to visit fast food restaurants and drive-thrus and hope you won’t be tempted?
- Do you continue to live outside of your boundaries?
- These will all continue to wear you down.
Also, pay attention to your emotions because the enemy will ‘attack’ when your resistance is low. That’s why we use the acronym H.A.L.T. Don’t allow yourself to get too ‘Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired’.
- If you’re too stressed, your flesh will grow weak.
- If you’re too emotional about a situation, your flesh will grow weak.
- If you’re sleep deprived, your flesh will grow weak.
- If you’re not properly hydrated or fueled with healthy foods, your flesh will grow weak.
Your flesh will be more willing when it is well-rested, well-fed both physically and spiritually, and feeling at peace. That’s when your resistance will be strongest.
Until you can begin to understand the relationship between the body, soul, and spirit, you will continue to beat up and self-sabotage yourself.
You will never be able to make yourself do what you don’t want to do–at least not for any significant period of time. Willpower eventually wears off.
Understand that your flesh will always be unwilling in areas that you perceive as difficult, painful, or hard until you earn how to bring it under submission to your spirit. You can’t do this by trying harder, praying more, or beating up on yourself. Your flesh will become more willing when you teach it how to come under the influence of the Holy Spirit. This is the only true and lasting way to develop a spirit of willingness.
Are you ready to make your flesh more willing?
Pray, watch, and understand the process of submission.
Be sure to leave your thoughts and comments below.
Additional Reference Scriptures
“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” Prov. 22:3
“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Pet. 5:8
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Gal. 5:16
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Cor. 10:13
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Rom. 7:15
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