The Fight with the Flesh
Tonight I have a desire that is stronger than love. I want to be in the arms of my God. My feelings are mixed with wanting to do His will and do what I want. I want to be closer to God as to allow me the protection I so desparately need to be kept safe from myself. The cry of my heart is Lord please give me more of you at this very moment God. My flesh is weak, but my inner man is thirsty for you. I don’t want to break fellowship with you. Rap me in your arms Father.
Have you ever felt like everything is a struggle with the flesh and the spirit? Have you ever really felt the heat of wanting to feel good outside of your creator? I am in His presence when I face everything that is coming against me and I yield my desires over to Him. Learning to walk in the spirit is a humbling experience. God tears and shreads your being to nothing to accomplish this evolution.
Having been blessed with all the provisions you need but your flesh still longs for more. Having a roof over your head that you are not even paying for, the very electricity you are using is God’s. The food you are eating is God’s provision. The clean cloths you wear are God’s provision, The water you use is God’s provision, but your flesh says: I want more, I want to be in control of my own destiny. I want what I want, not God’s provison. Can you see the pride in the attack? How come we fall to these practices without noticing the enemies deceptive practices? The alarm is wanting to gratify self. Thank you Lord for allowing me to see my need to be in the secret place tonight where I am safe in your arms.
We get the opportunity to choose before we fall. If we would be hungry to please God and let the holy spirit fully convict us of moving out of His will we would always come back to our spirit mind and kill the flesh. We are always stewards of all God gives. Kill the flesh by beating your body as Paul mentions in his gospel.
Just because we have been saved by Christ doesn’t mean Christians don’t struggle with sin.
In fact, the reality is, we find ourselves living by a superior standard of life. Our spirit has been set apart by God but our minds continue to have the pattern of the old way of thinking.
So, even though our spirit is secure in Christ we still experience a battle in our mind, will and emotions. We want to leave the old patterns of living and embrace the new life in Christ but the flesh constantly wants to have its own way.
Subject: What I’m talking about is The Fight with the Flesh.
Compliment: How Can We Overcome Sin Tendencies in our life?
In Romans 7:14-25 98% of the text describes Paul the Apostles struggle with sin. Instead of depressing us this should encourage us because Paul faced the same daily battle in his mind, will and emotions that you and I face – and he was used to write 2/3 or the N.T.!
The remaining 2% of Paul’s descriptive struggle gives us the answer we need to overcome the sin tendencies in life.
t.s. We’ll first have to understand the problem each and every one of us struggles with each and every day – Our Flesh.
[Body – Understanding What’s the Problem]
Everyone has Flesh.
Flesh is our nature while here on Earth. It is developed within us by the ways we tried to meet our needs out of our own resources
Often, as Christians, when we think of “the flesh” we think in terms of the Results of living after the flesh.
Going to Galations 5:19-21, the Bible lists some of the results of living a life geared toward fulfilling the flesh. The list includes:
Sexual immorality, impurity, hatred, bitterness, anger, selfish ambition, factions, divisions, envy and others…
But included in the Apostle Paul’s definition of his flesh were his status, education, religious zeal and commitment. (Phillipians 3:3-6)
In his book “Lifetime Guarantee” Dr. Billy Graham describes the flesh in this way:
Flesh refers to the old patterns by which we have attempted to get all our needs supplied instead of seeking Christ first and trusting Him to meet all our needs.
A Christian then can still live “after the flesh” attempting to meet his needs through his old ways of living.
To Sum up what the flesh is:
It is all of the habit patterns that we have developed over the years to meet our needs out of our own resources. It is the Self-Life.
[What did it mean to Paul?]
Sometimes we forget the humanity of great men and women in the Bible – they were people just like us.
Listen to how Paul described his battle with his own flesh:
· (v15 NLT) “ I don’t understand myself at all!”
· (v16 NLT) “I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong.”
· (v17 NLT) “ I can’t help myself”
· (v18 NLT) “ I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned”
· (v18 NLT) “ No matter which way I turn – I can’t make myself do right”
· (v21 NLT) “When I do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.”
· (v24 NLT) “ What a miserable person I am.”
In the above 7 statements Paul describes the Christians fight with the flesh that each one of us, if you’re a Christian, can identify with. This is why Paul went to great lengths.
He uses hyperbole overstating and exaggerating something to make a point.
His Point? We are all locked into this battle – this fight- of the old habit patterns that we have developed over the years. This Self-Life that wants to live life – As Frank Sinartra once sang…”To do it My Way!”
[Belief] – Now Why is this such a Problem?
The non-Christian is not engaged in this fight with the flesh because the only option the non-Christian has is to live after the flesh – after the old habits and patterns developed over the years.
But since Jesus Christ lives in the Christian. We have all of Jesus’ resources available to us – Victory, Deliverance, Freedom…these are available to conquer fleshly habits.
Unfortonately, most Christians have now learned how to rely on Christ
· Often we do not allow Jesus to actually, experientially be in control of our life
Perhaps this is the very dilemma you are facing at this point in your life?
What does it mean to “live by the Flesh?”
To live according to our flesh means to live unrenewed – it is to live and act sinfully
The Corinthian Church had this problem and were immature in the Lord and self-serving. Paul had to correct the church’s fleshly living by writing two letters to them.
The Ephesian Church had to be reminded not to think according to the Flesh. In 4:17 Paul begins:
17 _ With the Lord’s authority let me say this: Live no longer as the ungodly£ do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18Their closed minds are full of darkness; they are far away from the life of God because they have shut their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19They don’t care anymore about right and wrong, and they have given themselves over to immoral ways. Their lives are filled with all kinds of impurity and greed.
20But that isn’t what you were taught when you learned about Christ. 21Since you have heard all about him and have learned the truth that is in Jesus, 22 _ throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. 23Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. 24You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God’s likeness—righteous, holy, and true.
[application] You see…living by the flesh can be summed up by a mind-set in which we choose to live by our own independent habit patterns to meet our needs – our learned independence from God – instead of trusting Jesus first.
Paul would later say in chapter 8 of Romans that those who live by the flesh “cannot please God”.
Now, What does this mean to me?
As Paul described here in Romans 7, it means that My Flesh is difficult to deal with.
All of us have developed patterns to help us cope with life, deal with our problems, succeed, relate to others and escape intolerable situations.
[personal illustration] One pattern of mine – I’ll admit- is the struggle I have to be self-dependant rather then God dependant. If a problem develops before me – immediately my ingrained fleshly habit is to find a practical solution – control the situation – secure the problem and then solve the problem in a logical manner.
God seems to constantly try and break that self dependant pattern in my life by allowing me to face difficulties in which I have no control. The result – I must become God-dependant and learn trust by walking with God in faith.
Our flesh is difficult to deal with because we have ingrained patterns that we have learned since childhood.
The truth is that the older in age one becomes – the more difficult it becomes to change those patterns in the area of our thinking, our emotional ties to those patterns and even our will to want to change.
So what should I do in light of this?
Paul asked the same question in verse 24
“Who will free me from this life dominated by sin?”
Then he gives the answer in the next verse – “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
How do we fight the flesh and overcome sin tendencies in our life?
By seeking the one who defeated death. He and He alone has the power to help us overcome our fleshly desires.