Sunday, January 16, 2011

Satisfy Your Flesh

Satisfy Your Flesh
Jan 17, 2011
Galatians 5:16 "So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh"

The most difficult thing to do as a Christian is to live and act like a Christian 24/7. Really? Does God expect us to be Christ-like every minute of the day? Seriously, there are probably times in every week out of the year that a stranger might suggest I was not upholding a Christ-like image in my life. That probably goes the same for everyone reading this. We both know it to be true. There is a constant battle inside of us, to satisfy the flesh and indulge in a few sins OR to live like Christ when it doesn't necessarily feel good. Let's admit it, sin is certainly satisfying sometimes, for a short while. Nonetheless, it is not something we are to be in the habit of doing, gratifying the desires of the flesh.

Even the great apostle, Paul, struggled with his fleshly desires and personal satisfaction. He said to the church in Rome, "'I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.'" We all know this to be true; every time we sin or do something we are not proud of, we have the same feeling that Paul expressed. We do the things we hate. There is an impulse control issue at work inside of us because our flesh wants to feel good, it wants to be satisfied. So, in a moment of self-gratification, we cave in to what the sinful nature wants. We sin. After Paul writes to the Romans about the problem, he writes a solution in Romans 8 and then again in Galatians 5. His argument is that our flesh and the Spirit cannot co-exist at the same time; if we live by the Spirit we will not submit to the flesh. We are to live by the Spirit 24/7 in order that our lives might reflect Christ at all times.

Paul's advice, to live by the Spirit in order to combat giving in to fleshly desires, really doesn't make much sense. HOW does a person live by the Spirit, or walk by the Spirit? What does it really mean to walk in the Spirit? Paul tells us the outcome but only gives us a glimpse on how to accomplish it. The outcome is a life filled with the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, etc.), but the means to get that fruit is not so clear. The glimpse he offers though, in attaining it, is written right after he discusses the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. He says, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." But, again, how do we accomplish this?

The answer is very simply but very hard to do sometimes. It is hard to do because it takes aforethought. You cannot fight the flesh while you are in the moment. It is impossible. You must fight what the flesh wants before you get into the situation when your impulse control will lose out to the temptations of sin. You must belong to Christ BEFORE you get into a moment that could compromise your faith. You must SUBMIT to the power of God and consciously lay down your own self when you are in a position of strength, when you have no temptations or sinful distractions. This can happen only when you are alone with God, on a daily basis. That is where you submit yourself to Him and accept the power of His Spirit to live in you. If you have done this, before you enter an opportunity to sin, you will be able to resist the desire to sin. You cannot submit to God once and think you are safe for the rest of your life. The Bible tells us that we must die to ourselves daily, that we must take up our cross and follow Christ every day. If you find yourself doing what you don't want to do, then submit to God and the power of His Spirit every morning, in a moment of strength, so you can resist the flesh in a moment of weakness.

1. Do you make a conscious effort to submit your life to God's Spirit on a daily basis?
2. How can you submit to God in your times of strength so you may combat your flesh when you are weak?
3. How can you take up your cross daily and die to yourself every morning? Try it this week and see what happens.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Luke 9:23, Rom 7 & 8, Rom 7:15, Galatians 5, 2 Cor 5:10, Phil 3:8 & 19

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