John 18:10 “Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.”
It is the apostle John who reveals Peter as the one who cut off the servant’s ear and also identifies the servant. It is very doubtful that Peter was aiming for the ear of Malchus. It is more probable that he was making a horizontal swing at the servant’s head and as the man ducked, Peter cut off his ear.
Peter was very vocal about never denying the Lord, and his actions proved that he meant what he said. There were only two swords among the disciples, yet Peter was willing to take on these six hundred soldiers. This spelled certain death or imprisonment.
Peter wanted to stand with the Lord, but he was not prepared spiritually. He was still strong in his own ability. If the battle would have been in the physical realm, Peter would have fought to the death as he proved here. But when Jesus told Peter to put up his sword and not resist with his physical power, Peter was confused.
Peter only knew how to rely on the flesh. When Jesus refused to allow Peter to fight with his sword, he was defenseless. If he would have been praying with Jesus, as instructed, Peter would have been built up spiritually and able to stand with Jesus spiritually without denying Him. As the prophet Zechariah said, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts”… (Zechariah 4:6).
Likewise, we may sincerely desire to never deny our Lord, but it takes more than desire; it takes preparation. We all have been taught how to rely on ourselves, but we have to learn anew how to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10). Just as in the physical realm, where muscles have to be exercised to become strong, so we have to exercise ourselves unto godliness (1 Timothy 4:7).
Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
How do you walk in the Spirit? The way you do this is through living by, conducting your actions according to, and following the leading of the Word of God as quickened to you by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit and the Word of God agree perfectly because the Holy Spirit is the one who inspired the written Word of God.
Denying the flesh will not result in walking in the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit will result in denying the flesh. This may seem like a subtle difference to some, but the difference is truly profound. As a whole, false religions teach that as we overcome our flesh, there is a noticeable increase in the presence and power of God in our lives. That was what the Pharisees of Jesus’ day and the legalistic Jews of Paul’s day taught. Just the opposite is true. As we experience more of the presence and power of the Spirit of God, then the influence of the flesh is diminished. Victory must come in this order. We don’t walk in the Spirit as a result of overcoming the flesh, rather overcoming the flesh is the result of walking in the Spirit.
It’s similar to how you fill a dark room with light. You don’t shovel out the darkness and then light appears. No! You simply turn on the light and the darkness flees. Much of religion preaches to stop sinning (get rid of the darkness) and then the Holy Spirit will come and empower you (the light will come). That’s not the way it works. Man can no more get rid of the power of the flesh on his own than he can get rid of the power of darkness without light. We have to receive the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives by grace and then the union with the Holy Spirit breaks the power of the flesh. The key to breaking the dominion of the flesh is to appropriate the power of the Spirit through faith, while the flesh is still causing us problems. Those who are waiting for the Spirit to manifest after they have subdued the flesh, will wait as long as the man who is trying to get rid of the darkness so the light will appear.
John 15:2 “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”
This purging has been interpreted in many ways. The illustration that Jesus is using is one of pruning; therefore, some have said this purging is a very painful process where the Lord cuts and slashes us through things like sickness, death, poverty, and other forms of tragedy so that eventually we will bear more fruit. This teaching not only promotes problems as being good, but necessary, if we want to bear more fruit.
That thinking is not consistent with the rest of God’s Word or even the context of this verse. The text makes it very clear that the purging that Jesus speaks of is done through the Word that He has spoken unto us.
Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that God’s Word was given to us “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” That is God’s method of pruning us, and He doesn’t need the devil’s help. His word will make us “perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
That is not to say that we cannot learn through tragedy: but God has a better way. If we mistakenly think that God is bringing tragedy into our lives to make us more fruitful, then we’ll not resist the tragedies and they will not flee from us. All of us will learn by hard knocks, but the man who welcomes them with wide open arms will suffer greatly and be far behind the man who lets God’s Word have His perfect work in him.