“The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
It is so easy for us to look at the Children of Israel making a Golden Calf in the desert with criticism. “How could they”, we say. “After all God did for them; after witnessing the power of His Great Mighty Hand, how could they so easily transfer their loyalties?”
What we have to realize is that in their minds, they were probably not transferring their loyalties. They were just reacting to what they knew, to the culture around them, to their training. Yes, these people were Hebrews, but they were Hebrews who had lived a long time in Egypt, among idol-worshippers. The whole world around them was an idol-worshipping world. On top of it, they were joined by a ‘mixed multitude’, a large amount of non-Hebrews who having seen the power of the God of Israel in Egypt and decided to throw their lot with Him (Exodus 12;38).
We are creatures of habit you and I. We do not realize how much we respond to life by habit just following a natural reaction course. Don’t we often as we drive take the habitual road and miss where we are going? That is why the Master said, ‘The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”. The Spirit and the mind may understand something, but the flesh automatically reverts to the ‘old ways’. It does so because it provides the security of familiar surroundings. A person my change religion, but in ways unknowns even to her will continue to relate to God in the ways she has always been taught. The physical elements, the names, the days, the building, the clothing, even the language may be different, but the spirit in that person, the way they relate to God, to worship and their relationship with Him may remain unchanged. We can blame the Children of Israel for their sin, but following the Master’s teaching of trying to remove the log in our eyes before trying to remove the speck in someone else’s, we must take a hard look at ourselves (Matthew 7:3).
How many people from the world come to God and bring with them worldly concepts of business, politics, and lifestyles? How many also, as they grow to a fuller a understanding of the Jewish Messiah bring with them much baggage from their former misunderstanding? Very often we criticize our former leaders and teachers only to turn around and recreate the same thing they did, only around ourselves.. We may change the outside look, but the spirit, or the inside remains the same. We generally can’t see it ourselves, but we need the ‘mirror’ of someone else uninvolved and outside of the picture to reveal it to us. It is like someone involved in a non-violent, oppressive, abusive relationship; they don’t realize it until they come out and have a taste of freedom. It is a breath of fresh air from the outside that helps us realize that the place we live in stinks.
May we, as we daily walk with the Master, discover all the ‘Golden Calf’ areas of our lives. May we learn to shed from us the former culture of the world and put on the ‘New man’ He has for us.