A certain man was in very big trouble. He was just fired from his fifth job. When he could not feed his family again, his wife ran away, leaving him with three daughters. To worsen his sorrow, his first daughter became pregnant. She said, “Daddy, all the time I did not ask you for bus fare to school. Where do you think the money I was using came from?”
The man was very sad, so he cried to the Lord in prayers. He really cried to God, and you know God never rejects the cry from the heart. The Lord Jesus appeared to him while he was praying. The man was very happy. He wanted the Lord Jesus to sympathize with him. He wanted the Lord to promote him and give him deliverance from all his troubles. He wanted comfort, fairness and divine justice.
But to his amazement, the Lord pointed at him and said, “Your problem is rooted in you and not in the enemy.” The Lord told him that, that was the hardest part of his Christian life. “You have not even agreed that you are your own problem. You are only deceiving yourself by blaming the devil. I am the Almighty. I am not struggling with the devil. I desire that your flesh must submit to me. I want to dethrone you from the center of your life and be your Lord, but you have not allowed me to do so. You must contend with this power of your flesh, which is hindering my work and preventing me from doing what I want to do in your life,” the Lord said.
The man was surprised but for the first time he got the blunt truth, which they say, is sometimes very bitter. You see, the devil is not really the issue as much as the power of the flesh. It is the flesh that is hanging grave clothes onto the body.
Romans 8:8 tells us plainly that, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” In these words, we see no room for compromise. Those in the flesh have separated themselves from God.
“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” (Galatians 5:19-21).
The list above contains those things by which we glorify ourselves. When in the midst of them, there is no room for glorifying God. To be right with God means to avoid the things that give into our own evil desires for self-gratification at the expense of a right relationship with our Creator.
This list from Galatians contains the things that come natural to us in our fallen state. They are those things we naturally fall into in our attempts to be our own gods. But this is not the way it has to be, and the Lord has given us all the tools we need to avoid fleshly desires, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).
By way of God’s Holy Spirit, we have the power to resist our natural urges to separate ourselves from God in these ways. Immediately after this list in Galatians comes another, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:22-24).
By the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the means to overcome the things of the flesh. Paul said earlier in this chapter of Galatians, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” To avoid the urge to satisfy our own fleshly desires, we are asked to walk in the ways of the Spirit. Giving glory to God by thinking of others first with the mindset of a servant.
This is not an easy task, because the ways of the flesh have a worldly enticement that is hard to resist but, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
With so many avenues of temptation now available, the devil has many opportunities to lead us onto paths of destruction. If you are on this path, I invite you to put all of your hope and trust in Jesus. Focus your life on the ways of the Spirit and do not give room for fleshly desires. The power of the Lord is more than enough to save you. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, save us from our fleshly desires and lead us to paths that lead only to you. Amen.