Tag: Sin

What Your Flesh Doesn’t Want You to Know: Its Nature and Schemes

1. Your flesh doesn’t want you to know of its existence.

It will do anything to gain the element of surprise. Utterly perverse and depraved, it slithers about in secrecy. This gives it room to do all of its dastardly planning while leaving you in the dark, unprepared and unaware.

2. Your flesh doesn’t want you to know of its persistence.

It’s always at work, seeking to entice your desires, and bending your affections inward. But it wants you to ignore this and skip along on your merry way. Your resistance is a nuisance, and it well tempt you daily to relax and give it full reign over your heart. Drift into a lackadaisical state, and you’re right where your flesh wants you. “Sit back,” it whispers, “everything will be fine.”

3. Your flesh doesn’t want you to know that it hates you, God, and anything that stirs your affections for him.

In its very nature, your flesh is at enmity with God. It hates him, and desires above all to dishonor him and send you chasing after idols. But, it’s in your flesh’s best interest to keep this truth to itself. To inform you of its desires would be suicidal. As long as you see it as an unlikable roommate, its plans remain hidden. The last thing it wants is for you to see it as an enemy against the glory of God and your enjoyment of him.

4. Your flesh doesn’t want you to know the folly of trying to make peace with it.

As Paul writes,

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (Gal. 5:17; see also Rom. 7:21-23)

One of the best presents you could give to your flesh is ignorance to this truth. It wants you to give up the war and write up a peace treaty, oblivious to the reality that you’re setting yourself up for a stab in the back. As a child of God, your flesh will never leave you alone until the day you die. But everyday it will work to keep you from remembering that.

5. Your flesh doesn’t want you to know that it will hit you in the valleys and on the mountain tops of your spiritual walk.

Your flesh has a knack for finding opportunities to attack you. When you’re down it will torture you, dragging you into the depths of despair. But it takes advantage of your “spiritual highs” as well. It will plant seeds of pride, arrogance, and legalism right when you think nothing could go wrong. If you thirst for God, it will do anything to get you to start looking down on others instead of walking alongside them. But, again, for you to know this would ruin your flesh’s fun.

6. Your flesh doesn’t want you to know that it can be mortified.

Your flesh is a formidable foe, but it has a not so hidden secret: it’s mortally wounded. Christ has conquered it on the cross and set you free from the chains it once bound you in. But that’s the last thing your flesh wants you to remember. It wants you to cower in its presence, drained of all hope. You have been given everything you need in Christ to mortify your flesh, and that only makes it angrier.

What Your Flesh Doesn’t Want You to Know: Who You Are in Christ

Our flesh is persistent. In its very nature it’s at enmity with God. This isn’t a mild dislike, it’s a vicious, seething hatred.

Writing of his personal struggle with sin, Paul says,

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (Rom. 7:21-23)

Don’t miss the force of what Paul is saying here. The enemy within us never lets up from barraging us with temptations and working to entice our desires. It will do anything to squash our desire to glorify and enjoy God. And all too often we concede. We get frustrated and upset, allowing our flesh to walk all over us doing a victory dance.

But let’s be careful to not give our enemy too much credit. It’s a persistent, deadly, and cunning foe; but we haven’t been left to ourselves. We are the people of Jesus Christ, and he has sealed victory over our sin on the cross. Once we were slaves to sin, but Christ has set us free, destroying the chains we could never escape on our own. A little earlier in his letter to the Romans, Paul writes,

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. (Rom. 6:6-7)

And not only have we died to sin, we are “alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11b). This new life God has given us in Christ is life in the Spirit, by whom we mortify our flesh (Rom. 8:13).

So, what does all this mean?

1. The flesh is a conquered foe.

It hates God, and it hates you, but its end is oblivion. Don’t underestimate it; it will do anything to lead you to sin. But also don’t forget who your Savior is; he has valiantly triumphed, dealing the death blow to sin and shattering the chains of your flesh.

2. You are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ.

Your relationship to your flesh has been radically changed. It no longer can claim you as its slave, for you are a child of God. And because you’ve been made alive, you can now love God and others, doing his will joyfully and not out of compulsion.

3. By the Spirit you can mortify your flesh.

You aren’t defenseless anymore. God has given you everything you need to kill your enemy and triumph over its snares.

This is the glorious news of who you are because of what God has done for you, and your flesh doesn’t like it one bit. Though conquered, it continues its course, attempting to deceive us and lead us into sin. So, over the next few Tuesdays, we are going to look at several different ways our flesh worms about to protect itself from mortification. Knowing the trickery of our enemy better equips us to evade its attacks and put it to death by the Spirit.

“This Means War!”

Whether we acknowledge it or not, as Christians we are in a war against sin. Here are some key truths to remember as we seek to fight the good fight:

1. As God’s people we are to love him and seek him first above everything else. Do you really think our flesh and our spiritual enemy are going to sit back and let that happen willingly?

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. (1 Pet. 2:11ff)

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? (James 4:1ff)

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Rom. 7:21-24)

2. Though the battle wages onward, the final victory is secured through the finished work of Jesus Christ.

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (1 John 5:4)

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Cor. 15:56-58)

They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful. (Rev. 17:14)

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Rev. 20:7-10)

3. We are no longer bound to the enemy. We have died to sin and been made alive to live for the glory of God and good of others.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Rom. 6:1-4ff)

But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph. 4:20-24)

4. God gives us grace and power through his Spirit, providing everything we need to fight the good fight.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. (2 Pet. 1:3ff)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Eph. 6:10-13ff)

5. We do not fight the good fight alone. We fight alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ under the sovereign protection of our God and Savior.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:1-3)

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal. 6:1-2)

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Rom. 12:3-5)

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb. 10:24-25)