If you were asked, “What Bible verse do you dislike?”, what would you say? That is a question that Larry and I ask, among others, when someone new comes to us for soul care/counseling. How a person answers the question can be revealing. But even as I would ask it of others, I wondered about myself and couldn’t really think of how I would answer. No verse really seemed to qualify for me.
But today as I was reading in Romans again, I focused in on a verse and felt dislike. I didn’t want to focus on it. It was too dangerous. Even though I’d read the verse many times in the past, it fairly screamed at me in that moment. God’s Word read, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14).
The words “make no provision for the flesh” convicted me. I didn’t like it. The mirror of Scripture made me look at myself and my plans for “providing” for sin. I’m like a soldier who sets out on a journey and puts his provisions in his backpack for his body to be sustained. Except that in this case, the provisions are not for good; they are sustenance for sin.
I’ve been meditating all day on that verse and the word “provision,” trying to examine how I make plans to gratify the desires of my flesh. And I realized the reason I reacted so strongly to God’s loving words is because when I sin I can deceive myself into thinking, “Oh! What a surprise! How did that happen?” I think I was caught by surprise, but the truth is, more often than not, it was a matter of making provision for my failure before it ever happened.
I’m still ruminating on all this and I plan to write about it for awhile (sorry to be on a downer over the Christmas season) but what better way to celebrate Jesus’s birth than to work on drawing closer to Him by dealing with the very thing that separates me: my sin.
For today, here’s one specific way we can “make provision” for gratifying our flesh. Anne Graham Lotz writes in The Magnificent Obsession about how Abraham might have made provision for his sin in Genesis 20:2. Like before, he fears for his life when a king takes Sarah into the king’s harem. As a result, he lies, calling Sarah his sister. Anne writes, “One reason Abraham may have failed again is that he never set straight with Sarah his previous sin of lying to Pharoah. When he had returned from Egypt, he had gone back to Bethel, but there is no record that he also went back to Sarah and apologized, no indication he ever said, ‘I’m sorry. I was wrong to lie about you. I promise never to do that again.’ He seemed to have left the door open to lying again. And he did.”
I think this gives us a significant way we make provision for our flesh: we fail to acknowledge the seriousness of our sin and apologize, committing to never sin in that way again. (By the way. I believe there is no level of seriousness with sin. There is no “little” or “big” sin. It’s all sin! Therefore, it all deserves repentance and a commitment to never do it again).
I must admit that the thought of saying, “I’ll never do that again” seems fairly…well…in all honesty…pretty stupid! Who could claim to never do something bad again, especially if it’s one of our tendencies like it was Abraham’s. But maybe by not promising, we are indeed making provision for us to do it again.
Definitely something to think about. What do you think?
I’m going to continue thinking about this and write more soon.