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Friday, January 2, 2009

Friday Freelance: FLESH

We spend an incredible amount of time, money and effort on our flesh.

Life's basic functions are to feed, clothe and house flesh so it survives. We may fastidiously work to keep flesh healthy, or exhaustively engage practitioners and treatments in the effort to restore flesh's health. We expend considerable effort bathing and grooming our flesh so it's socially inviting.

Despite efforts to be clean, flesh always reverts back to stink. How amazing that God became flesh to walk among the smell of humans, because He has a sensitive nose. Everyone entering the Old Testament temple was free of bodily uncleanness to be holy and set apart to Him, and the priests also got a good washing. Holy Place offerings were freshly baked bread and incense. Burnt offerings sacrificed to Him were called a sweet aroma. Throughout the Old Testament, flesh and all else was cleansed by blood, water, or (as a last resort) fire.

God still smells us. Offering ourselves as a living sacrifice is a pleasing aroma to Him. Our prayers are sweet incense. Time spent communing with Him is the scent of fresh bread broken between friends. When we exemplify His Son in our lives, He calls us the fragrance of Christ.

I never got enough of my newborns' fragrance. Bottoms got frequent soap and water, but I bathed everything else sparingly, because newborns don't really get dirty and I loved their natural aroma. Alas, babies grow into dirty children and compel frequent baths.

When Jesus chose to cloth Himself in flesh physically, He never sinned nor lost His spiritually pure fragrance. Yet Jesus didn't hesitate to go near the Pharisees' stench of pride or the sinners' stench of depravity.

God loves us even when we're covered in the filth of sin. But to come near Him we need to be cleansed by blood, water and fire. He first washes us in the blood that takes away the stench of sin's death. Then regular washing in the water of His Word cleans away sinful inclinations and perfumes us with the fragrance of Jesus. If the flesh stench of pride, selfishness and lust stubbornly clings to us (perhaps for lack of water), cleansing comes by the Spirit's fire.

In the present era, the Holy Spirit is willing to actually inhabit our flesh. But God insists we clean up. He'll provide the blood and water—fire too. We need only cooperate.

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