I don’t know if you ever thought about this, but did you ever wonder, “can a turtle live without its shell?”
I’ve thought about that and the answer is “no”. Its outer shell is not something it just carries around, it’s actually a part of its body.
The turtle’s shell is vital to its survival. Not only does it protect the turtle’s life from predators, who most often are not able to break through the hard shell, but that shell is bone with blood vessels and nerves. The turtles rib cage is actually fused with the top of a turtle’s shell which protects the turtle’s lungs.
Interesting, huh? But, is there any further take away for us today other than gaining a little knowledge?
How about this?
Christians, we too, have an outer shell. Did you know that? This outer shell we have is our flesh. It is that DNA in us that wires us to be enslaved to selfishness, rebellious to authorities, and independent-minded. It seeks to lead us away from dependence on God and absorbed in a “life revolves around me” mindset. Rather than worshiping God, the flesh seeks to exalt “me”.
One of the benefits of Jesus dying on the cross was that our bondage to the flesh (our outer shell) was broken. The life, truth, and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ disarmed the flesh’s power over us.
BUT, here are a few things to understand.
The outer shell (the flesh and all its attractions to the world around us) are still alive, it’s just we don’t have to obey its promptings.
Once someone submits their life to Jesus Christ by admitting their rebelliousness to Him and accept His loving forgiveness, we are given the Holy Spirit of God to live within us. Through God’s Sovereign leading in our lives, He enrolls us in a war against our outer man and any pockets of its presence still doing guerilla warfare in our life. God allows circumstances in our life to reveal areas where we still want to carry the shell of pride, or lust, or bitterness, etc
What the Holy Spirit does in our life when we encounter difficult circumstances is shout out us to continual reminders that we are “FREE”. We don’t have to listen to or respond to any outer shell/fleshly promptings. The Spirit tells us carrying our obedience to the flesh will harm us and because we are loved, He wants to spare us from that.
Unlike the turtle who can not live without its outer shell, the Christian is called to be intentional about putting it to death. This is the path of the normal and powerful Christian life.
In John 12:24-25 (esv), Jesus says, “truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies ( I’ve added this note to this verse: where the seed’s outer shell breaks down), it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
Christian brother or sister, you have been called to the truth that you no longer need to carry the weight of your outer shell – that part of you that wants to go solo through this world. Because of His amazing grace, He wants you to understand that your greatest joys in life will come when you realize that your protection, and purpose, and identity are all found, not from any outer things, but all from the internal things of a right alignment with the one, true, Living and Loving God.
“Off” with the old, and “on” with the new!
For further study, please read, Galatians 5, Colossians 3, Ephesians 4 & 5, and/or memorize Galatians 2:20