I love you with eternal love but hate your flesh. Those were the words I heard in my heart one-day last week. I was oblivious to what I did to provoke such a statement. What did I do that God hated? I did not know.

Fast forward to Friday, and I was found to be the parental guardian of my 3-year-old niece and 11-year-old nephew as my mother and sister headed for a weekend getaway. If you know me; I'm a healthy recluse and need a lot of alone time. I can't remember when I went two and a half days without separation from people. I leaned on the grace of God, and I got through, and this is my story.

My niece is at the age where she is Dora the Explorer, looking for the next adventure to give her five senses something to shout about. Anything that is closed gets opened—all doors, drawers, bags, and boxes.

My nephew is developing his way, his truth, and his life. His way is what he wants. His truth is that no one understands him and is against him. His life is whatever he feels like at the moment.

I would not classify this weekend with my extended family as rebellious, just fleshy. My niece and nephew love me, but I discovered they love themselves more. I never got married and didn't have children, so I am late to this revelation. Nevertheless, I love them more than they love me, but I hate their flesh. Heavenly Father, you got me!

I'm much older than my niece, but I still find myself looking for something better. Something more adventurous and stimulating than everyday life. Maybe I am on the game show Price is Right with Bob Barker. I do like showcase number 1; it fits me well. But what am I missing if showcase number 2 is better?

Or maybe I want to compete with God on the game show Let's Make a Deal. I have a terrific gift, but what can I trade it for? There might be something better behind door number 1, door number 2, or 3.

God knows my flesh better than I do. And He hates it. God is patient. And He understands better than any of us can. But He still hates our flesh. I found this with my niece. I love her, but her fleshy appetite wore me out. We had moments together, but she always went looking for something better. The flesh is not necessarily rebellious as long as it is at the end of the procession and not in control.

We feel like we are one when we are first born and born again. One with mom. One with God. Then, the day comes when we discover our own identity. And when we do, we start to pull away to explore. When we explore, we discover we lack wisdom, fear, and comfort and don't have all the superpowers that Mom and God have.

We then have moments of wanting to be one again. We like the power, love, and sound mind that Mom and God give. Then we get antsy because we still have our identity calling out to have free choice.

My nephew, eight years older than his sister, is still developing his identity. Unlike his sister, he was not exploring the outer limits as much as he was exploring my inner limits and his.

Again, I wouldn't put him in the category of rebellion. He is ignorant, young, and undisciplined. I have behaved the same way to God. I want to know if I am made out of the same cloth as God. Am I like Him? Can I do what He can do? Can I do what He says I can do? Is this the image I want to be when I grow up, or should I look for another image to imitate? I love my nephew but hate his flesh.

The flesh has its desires that war against the desires of the spirit. The desire of the flesh will only lead us to pain and death. At the same time, the spirit's desire will lead us to life and life eternal.

My people perish for lack of knowledge and have rejected the knowledge given unto them, says a prophet of God.

My niece is adventurous. Is this good? Well, it depends. Is she being led by the spirit that brings life or by the flesh that brings death?

The spirit of God will lead us on an adventure. We need faith. Without faith, we can't please God. So, yes, there is adventure when following God. When He leads us on an adventure, He opens doors that no man can open and closes doors that no man can shut.

There are doors that my little niece should not open. And there were doors that I did open that she didn't want to go through. Her flesh led her. She needs to learn early to trust God and those God puts in authority so that she doesn't open the wrong door that she won't be able to close before great pain is afflicted. I love her but hate her flesh because it is her flesh that will be used to kill her if she doesn't learn. At her age, I was able to shut those doors myself.

God has set before us life and death and says Choose life. God gave Adam and Eve an entire garden of life, with one tree of death in the center. An abundance of good choices for life, and they choose the one tree of death!

Until the fall, man did not have self-conscience. As far as they were concerned, they were one with God. God gave them a choice and free will. The struggle for identity began. Who is who? Self-conscience kicked in and the flesh trumped the spirit.

I gave my nephew many choices on what he could do with his time, but he always had a choice that was not on the list. He wanted to do his own thing. I love my nephew but hate his flesh. What he thought was good in his own eyes will hurt him. The food he wanted to eat, the television shows he wanted to watch, and the places he wanted to go were not good. If he doesn't learn to die to himself and live to Christ, only much pain is waiting for him on his path of choice.

This weekend wasn't difficult. Not only did God give me grace, but the fleshy danger in these two children was subtle, maybe because the flesh has a cute smile. There was no blown-out of portion conflict. No enemies were made. There were some tears shed, but no love was lost. They were good kids but fleshy.

But I can't get away from the dangers of the unchecked flesh. The devil will tempt us with the tree of knowledge of good and evil and then hang us from that tree. Cursed is the man who hangs on a tree.

God loves you with eternal love but hates your flesh. Your flesh is the deadliest relationship you have.

But thank God for giving us His Son Jesus to hang on the same tree destined for you and me. We have our own identity but are not our own. We are bought with at a price. We can-do no-good thing apart from Jesus. We do not know what is best for us. We can't keep ourselves in check. We are fleshy and driven to open doors that look good but are entirely from the evil one. And we need help shutting doors we have already opened with our incorrigible flesh. We need a lead away from entering temptation. We need the answer key for life and death to choose life. We need the everlasting Name with the keys to death and hell, Jesus!

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