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April 19 Devotion: Restraining the Flesh

Ecclesiastes 12:11 – “The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.”

The Scriptures are the wisest words that man can hear. God will not sanction any act undertaken outside the direction of the scriptures, nor will the Lord honor the labors of those that take their cue from elsewhere. These wise words are the preserved Word that God spoke, and as such their wisdom is absolute and far above the limits of man’s natural mind.

Therefore, the Words of the Most High are undoubtedly worthy of hearing. Yet, Solomon notes that hearing wisdom comes at a cost. When one truly receives the wisdom of the Bible, there is a temporary pain to the natural man.

Wise words are as goads (sharp sticks meant to drive heard animals, or spurs used to coax horses into movement). The temporary discomfort caused to the flesh by the Bible is unavoidable. As one grows in the spirit, the Spirit will reveal more wisdom from the Scriptures that will goad us into following the Lord more closely. There is a pain, but only to the flesh. The spirit longs to walk closer with God, but in order to do so, the flesh must be brought low and into submission. Have you ever watched a circus performance with elephants? They use smooth rods to tap behind the elephants’ legs to signal the next portion of the act, but that is the end of much goading and training behind the scenes. As the wisdom from the Bible is applied to our hearts, the repetition of goading the flesh will not necessitate the sharpness it once did. However, when a new lesson needs to be learned, the goad may need to be sharper to compel the flesh to follow after God.

Wise words from the Bible are also like nails struck fast by a master carpenter. The flesh can certainly be compelled, or goaded, into following the Lord; however, in order to compel one must first have dominion over something. An unrestrained flesh is one that has no reservation when presented with an opportunity to sin, it has no fear of God. We are commanded by Christ to take up our cross daily and follow Him. Likewise, daily we need to scour the Scriptures for the nails that are required to secure our flesh to that cross so that it is constrained from sin and disobedience. When a master craftsman drives a nail, it is permanent. Even after the wood begins to decay, the nail that holds it in place is often still firmly driven into the underlying structure. Long after our flesh returns to the dust of the Earth, the nails of the scripture will be firmly driven into the cross that we bore to Heaven. Jesus is the Chiefest of Carpenters, and if we allow Him to drive the Scripture into our hearts like a nail, the flesh will be firmly secured to our cross and incapable of running rampant.

The final thought for today’s devotion is found in how wisdom is given to the followers of God. They are presented to the sheep by one shepherd. We may not always understand why we are being goaded into a certain direction, or why our flesh is being constrained from certain actions, but we can rest assured that it is for our betterment as the Great Shepherd leads us to our eternal home.

Your fellowservant in Christ,

Bro. Jordan Foster

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