“For the flesh sets its desire against The Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by The Spirit, you are not under The Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5: 17-21
Confusion about The Flesh centers on the close proximity, but the very real difference between a desire and a deed. They are simply not the same. Giving into one will ultimately lead to the expression of the other. When a person has a desire of the flesh, it is not absolutely mandatory that a deed of the flesh must follow. Those who believe this are deceived.
There is only one imperative, when the desire of The Flesh runs into conflict with the leadership of The Spirit. The Flesh must immediately yield to The Spirit. Without absolute surrender, The Flesh always tries to defy the will of God, and deify its own will. The Flesh doesn’t weaken with age. It grows stronger with every self-centered decision, and poor excuse.
Note to self: When a desire of the flesh leads you to race headlong into a deed of the flesh, having Jesus in your heart will not stop you from looking like you have lost your mind.
Paul’s words reveal his 1st Century awareness that the Roman culture was consumed with the deeds of The Flesh. He said, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident.” This almost sounds like a classic Jeffersonian phrase, “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” This was a gracious, 18th Century way of saying, “Any fool ought to know this.” Thanks, Bob McEwen. But I digress.
After Paul’s laundry list of The Flesh, he adds, “and things like these.” It is an insightful, and prophetic warning to those who say, “Things can’t get much worse.” When it comes to The Flesh, creative corruption simply knows no bounds.
The battle between The Flesh and The Spirit was won on The Cross. Those who identify with the death, burial and resurrection of The Living Christ are blessed with the promise of The Father, and have The Spirit dwelling in them, forever.
There is a difference between having The Spirit, and yielding to The Spirit. Great danger exists in holding onto a theological concept about The Spirit, without coming under His authority, jurisdiction and leadership. The Spirit is not an idea, a fluid, a feeling, or an “it.” The Spirit is The Person of Christ, and His still, small voice declares the will of God. LISTEN!
When desires of The Flesh turn into deeds of The Flesh, there is no need for more of The Spirit, in the life of the believer. There is a need for less of The Flesh, in the life of the believer.
A person prone to wander from desires to deeds must lower their flag of rebellion and surrender their rebellious territory to God. The rebellious don’t need more of The Spirit. The Spirit needs more of them. Desires of The Flesh are relentless. When they arise in the life of a believer, they must be put to death moment-by-moment, breath-by-breath, step-by-step.
Excusing deeds by blaming desire leads to a free fall over a cliff. Desire has a way of continually moving the barricades closer to the edge. It will never be satisfied with the new boundary. Desire leads to deeds that crash through barriers The Spirit puts in the path of God’s children to protect them from themselves. When rebellious children ignore The Spirit’s leadership, they crash through God’s protection and find destruction.
Pray for grace to resist the desires of the flesh. Too many people approach The Flesh as if getting rid of it is a weight loss issue. Believers don’t need to lose a little bit of The Flesh in order to look more like Jesus. They need to die to all of it, and be led by The Spirit.
Excusing the desires of the flesh, and pampering rebellion never placates desire. Both feed it. Standard statements reveal a heart of a person intent on blaming desire, and excusing themselves from taking any responsibility for their deeds. These include:
➢ “I just can’t help myself.”
➢ “The devil made me do it.”
➢ “I was born this way.”
➢ “I had a rough childhood.”
➢ “The pastor doesn’t feed me.”
➢ “God gave me this desire, so He intends for me enjoy it.”
➢ This desire can’t be wrong, if it feels right”
The leadership of The Spirit is discovered by praying people engaged in the battle between The Flesh and The Spirit. When the first hint of desire raises the aroma of The Flesh in the nostrils of The Spirit, His conviction is released into the heart of the believer. Praying people hear His voice of warning, and yield to His offer of grace to resist desire. They do not oppose The Spirit, and excuse their deeds of The Flesh. They confess their desire, and avoid the deed, by surrendering to The Spirit’s leadership. Through prayer they find the will of God, and The Spirit’s power to resist The Flesh, in the name of Jesus. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!