I recently say down and watched The Incredible Hulk starring Edward Norton and Liv Tyler (released June 13, 2008, distributed by Universal Studios). In this movie I observed some definite parallels between the experience of the main character and our experience as God’s people.
The story of The Incredible Hulk centers around Dr. Bruce Banner. Dr. Banner is a brilliant scientist who, as the result of a gamma ray experiment gone terribly wrong, turns into a giant, raging, green-skinned creature whenever his pulse rate goes too high. He especially has to avoid becoming angry. Rampant destruction ensues if ever the monster is let loose. Because no lasting cure can be found, Dr. Banner has to try and keep his emotions under control. Unfortunately, it is impossible to stay in control at all times. Therefore Bruce lives in constant fear of not being able to keep the monster contained.
Like Bruce Banner, we too have a monster lurking within. The Bible calls this monster the flesh. The flesh is that unredeemed part of us that is comprised of all our innate appetites that are tainted by sin and fuelled by the thoughts and values impressed upon us by the world around us. While it may not be as big and powerful as the Hulk, things get ugly whenever this monster is let loose in our lives. The apostle Paul provides us with a graphic description in Galatians 5:19 – 21 of what the flesh looks like in action.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. ESV
Like I said, not pretty.
Notice, too, that Paul says those who practice the works of the flesh will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Because the frame of reference for the flesh is completely selfish, it is completely hostile to God and acts completely contrary to the nature of God (see Romans 8:6 – 7). Whenever we allow the flesh to dominate our lives, we can be sure that corruption and destruction, on some level, will be the results.
There was no cure for Bruce Banner’s infection caused by the gamma ray. That is where our stories differ. There is a sure fire answer to our dilemma. Paul provides it for us in Galatians 5:16.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. ESV
If we will live our lives under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we positively will not manifest the monster within. By living in submission to God’s Spirit, our lives will produce fruit in complete harmony with the nature of God. Look at what Paul says in Galatians 5:22 – 23.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. ESV
One day, at the coming of the Lord Jesus, our bodies will be completely transformed (Philippians 3:20 – 21). On that day the flesh will be completely done away with. In the mean time, we don’t have to fear the monster within. The Lord has already provided us with the cure. The conquest of the flesh monster comes from living in the Reign.