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Fighting The Flesh

In the mid 1990’s, DC Talk had a song called “What if I Stumble”. At the beginning, they read a quote from Brennan Manning’s “Ragamuffin Gospel” that said, “The greatest single cause for atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” That quote has always spoken to me and has challenged me.

When we get close to Easter, the story of Peter denying Jesus three times usually gets brought up at some point. We give him a hard time because he denied Jesus with his lips, but we often don’t think twice about things we do that deny Jesus with our life. One of my favorite quotes has been, “Preach at all times, and use words when necessary.” It’s a challenge for me to try to live a life that points others to Jesus. The problem is that in our flesh, it’s impossible. There is a constant struggle in each one of us between our flesh and God’s spirit living in us.

Paul perfectly described our feelings in this struggle in Romans 7:24 when he said, “Oh what a miserable person I am!” (GNT) He went on about the struggle, and how to win it, in Romans 8. Verse 12 says, “Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.” To win the battle more times than not, we have to learn to repeatedly tell our flesh a resounding, “No!” We are not obligated, as Paul said, to obey the flesh.

If you struggle telling your flesh, “No,” you’re not alone. It’s something we all struggle with. We can get better at it by learning to deny our flesh through fasting and prayer. We can do it by reading God’s Word instead of something else. If we want our lifestyle to match the words that come out of our mouth, it begins by listening to God’s Spirit within us and being led by Him. Jesus forgave and used Peter despite his vocal denial. God can forgive and use us too. Winning this battle within us and living a lifestyle that preaches God’s Word starts with one “No” to the flesh. Thanks to God who gives us that power by living in us.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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The GPS Of The Flesh


In one of the episodes of “The Office”, Michael Scott and Dwight were out on sales calls together. Michael was using a GPS navigation system to get where they were going. The device said, “Turn right.” As Michael began to turn right, Dwight asked what he was doing. He said, “I’m turning right.” Dwight frantically said, “You can’t turn right! There’s a pond right there.” Michael said, “But it told me to turn right so I have to.” He then drove the car into the water.

I’m pretty sure almost all of us have used some sort of GPS navigation system by now, whether it’s in our phone or not. When you don’t obey it, the voice comes on, “Rerouting. Make the next legal U-Turn.” If you keep going, it keeps trying to get you to go back. I usually turn it off at that point because it starts to annoy me. I know a better way, but it doesn’t want to see it or give me directions to take it. That GPS system is a lot like our flesh. It wants to direct us and tell us where to go.

If we follow our flesh, we’ll end up in a lake like Michael Scott. Sadly, many of us think we have to do what it says. It leads us down the road of temptation away from God. We know there’s a pond there and we’re going to wreck, but we follow it because we feel we have to. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit is frantically saying, “You can’t turn right! There’s a pond there.” Too many times we end up in the water of sin and have to pay the price, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Just like you don’t have to obey your GPS navigation, you don’t have to obey your flesh.

Romans 8:12 says, “Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do” (NLT). You are free to make your own decisions. The flesh will constantly try to re-rout you and get you to U-Turn, but you have the power to ignore it because you have God’s Holy Spirit in you. When we are Spirit minded, we no longer have to follow the GPS of the flesh, and that leads to an abundant life.

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