June 25, 2009
The Battle of the Flesh
1 Corinthians 10:13 “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (NIV).
Friend To Friend
My devotion yesterday looked at our battle with the influence of an ungodly world. But there is another enemy in this battle for our minds, and that is the flesh. From the time we are born, we receive messages about ourselves – some true, some false. We go through our lives doing whatever we feel necessary to feel safe, secure, and significant. Between the time we are born physically and the time we are born spiritually (born again), we form certain habit patterns and thought patterns. Our unique way of getting our God-given needs met in our own strength and by our own means is our unique version of the flesh.
Like the word world, the word flesh has several meanings in the Bible. One meaning is simply our bodies - our literal flesh and bones. The Bible says “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Jesus came in bodily form – flesh and blood.
But there is another use of the word flesh, referring to our sinful thought patterns and actions that have developed over time. It is our mechanism for getting our needs met apart from God. Once we become a Christian, the desire to do things our own way and in our own strength apart from God does not simply vanish. No one pushes the delete button on our old programming. Now there is a struggle between the flesh with its default button of selfish thought patterns and actions, and the spirit with its desire to please God.
When we come to Jesus Christ, we are born again and have a new spirit birthed within us. We are saved from the penalty of sin. However, as long as we walk this earth and live in an earthly body, we will battle with the power of sin. Our old fleshly desires war against our new spiritual desires. While we fight battles with the world systems on the outside, we also fight battles with the flesh on the inside - our mind, will, and emotions.
I live on a lake and we are blessed and plagued with various winged foul. Occasionally, we are invaded by Canadian geese that don’t have a visa and need to move back up north where they came from. Strangely, some of the confused air travelers have stopped mid flight and settled in shopping center parking lots. For some strange reason, the geese have decided parking lots are fabulous places to start a family. Momma and papa goose scoop out a nest under a tree and proceed to lay eggs. Momma does her job of sitting on the eggs and papa does his job of protecting his family. He squawks and spits at shoppers simply minding their own business, charges curious kids, and struts around like he owns the place.
One day, I watched as a male goose waddled determinedly over to a mini-van and began furiously attacking the rear hubcap. The confused foul saw his reflection and pecked away at his mirrored image. The poor thing had no idea he was fighting himself and just about broke his beak.
Now friend, we are learning about how to replace the lies with the truth but sometimes we need to realize that we are pecking at our own reflection. Sometimes we are fighting against our own poor choices and weaknesses. Sure Satan notices and takes advantages of those weaknesses. That’s how any opponent makes his conquest, but we have to take responsibility for our fleshly choices; admit our sins, confess our mistakes, and repent - turn and go in the opposite direction.
The world, the flesh, and the devil are so intertwined that they can hardly be separated. Ultimately, Satan is the chief conductor driving the train of lies, and he’s driving it right off a cliff. But remember this; he can never make you do anything. We always have a choice. God always provides a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Dear LORD, I know that I am a new creation in Christ. However, I also know that I still battle many patterns of past thinking and ways of getting my needs met apart from Christ. Help me to see when I am walking in the flesh, and then help me to turn and learn to walk in the Spirit. Help me to retrain my mind with Your truth and walk in tandem with You.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
It is easy to blame poor behavior and circumstances on the devil, but we can never say, “The devil made me do it.” He might suggest it, but we always have a choice.
Make a list of ways you can safeguard your mind against temptation.
Pray and ask God to reveal any old pre-Christian habit patterns or thought patterns that need to be changed in your life.
If you’d like to comment on today’s devotion, visit Sharon’s blog at http://sharonjaynes.com/blog/
More From The Girlfriends
One area of our lives that must be reprogrammed once we become a Christian is the way we see ourselves. The devil tells us that we are not good enough, but God says that we are chosen, holy, and precious, worthy, gifted children of His. If you need help changing the way you see yourself, then take a look at Sharon’s book, I’m Not Good Enough…and Other Lies Women Tell Themselves. Isn’t it time you start seeing yourself as God sees you?
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