In order to walk successfully as a Christian, the flesh must be subdued. It is important for us to control the flesh, or it will take control of us. The flesh wants what it wants, and it wants it “NOW!” It screams for relief when it’s too hot or cold, and it wants to indulge in the finest of things that the world has to offer it.
You will feel the effects of the desires of the flesh by way of discomfort, anxiety, restlessness, and eagerness to satisfy its fleshly cravings. The flesh cannot stand to be denied what it wants. It wants the best, the largest, but most of all it wants your full cooperation. But, beware or you’ll find yourself in bondage and acting out desires of the flesh.
What is the flesh?
The Greek word for “flesh” in the New Testament is “sarx,” a term that refers to the physical body. According to the Apostle Paul, ‘all parts of the body constitutes the flesh, which is dominated by sin to such a degree that wherever flesh is, all forms of sin are likewise present, and no good thing can live.’
The Bible makes it clear that humanity did not start out this way. The Book of Genesis states that humankind was originally created good and perfect, but due to the fall of Adam, all mankind suffer the consequence of sin, which is death. This speaks of spiritual death and not physical death. Adam and Eve suffered sin consequences, which resulted in broken fellowship with God, and they were evicted from the Garden of Eden.
The Sin Nature
The Bible makes it clear that there is a spiritual and moral side to every person which is distinct from their physical body. Scripture also states that it is this component of a person, who has inherited what is called a ‘sin nature,’ that produces everything from lies to murder. The reality of the sin nature is clearly seen in human behavior. The Old Testament confirms that a sinful nature exists in everyone (Jere. 17:9).
There is a story told of a man who once came to a preacher and said “You talk about how heavy sin is, but preacher, I don’t feel a thing. The preacher thought for a minute and then asked “If you put a 400 lb. weight on a corpse, do you think that he will feel it?”
SIN IS MUCH TOO HEAVY TO CARRY!
The Consequences of the Sin Nature
As a result of the Adamic fall each and every person is born with a sinful nature, (some prefer, “sinful nature”). They are devoid of a spiritual life and they do not desire the things of God. Jesus affirmed this condition by saying “That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. You must be born again”; (John 3:6-7).
A person without a spiritual life results in behavior that is hostile toward God. The Apostle Paul confirms, “For the mindset on the flesh is death, but the mindset on the Spirit is life and peace because the mindset on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is unable to do so”; (Rom. 8:6-7). The final consequence is God’s wrath remains on those who are not born again, and so their destiny is one of judgment; (John 3:36; Rev. 20:14-15).
To live according to the flesh is to have your mindset on the things of the flesh. The Christian life consists of mortifying the flesh of its earthly desires and bringing the flesh into subjection. According to Galatians 5:19-21, the flesh manifests itself this way: “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing and like natures. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if you live according to the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live”; (Rom. 8:13). The fact is that obeying the flesh always results in breaking God’s moral law. Furthermore, a person also becomes a slave to his/her fleshly nature; (Rom. 6:16).
To mortify means to kill or subdue. In the biblical context, to mortify is to subdue the body through self-denial and discipline. Therefore mortification of sin (the flesh) is to put to death the deeds of the body. Mortify sexual desires, impurity, passion, lust, evil desires, and covetousness; (Col. 3:5).
There is a contrast between being heavenly-minded and earthly-minded. You were once in the world, walking according to the flesh, but now you’re in the Spirit. Because of this, put to death those things that were of the flesh. As you kill the flesh by not giving it what it wants, it will scream for that reason, but as you reject the desires eventually it is subdued. Now it’s subjected to you, which means that you are in control of your flesh. This requires discipline!
We have all used this popular saying, “The struggle is real!” The flesh wars against the spirit and the spirit wars against the flesh. Christians have the assurance that God will eventually bring success over the flesh; (Phil. 1:6).
Overcoming the Flesh
The Bible provides a four-step process for overcoming the flesh and restoring oneself to a right relationship with God.
The mortification of sin and flesh in a word is sanctification, the process by which the Holy Spirit works in the lives of God’s adopted children, to grow them and form them into the image of Jesus Christ. Sanctification which refers to holiness, is God’s will for our lives, and it is the purpose to which He has called us; (1 Thess. 4:3; Rom. 8:28-29).
The Good News is that sin has been defeated by the One who did not inherit a sinful nature from earthly parents. Jesus being born of a virgin, and through His work on the cross, being sinless, satisfied God’s wrath for sinners. God raised Jesus from the grave in order to offer life to those who are spiritually dead. Christ provides the way of conquering the inherited sin nature and a victory that can be experienced both in this life and the next. It does not matter how bad off a person is, Jesus can defeat the sin that enslaves mankind. Victory is already won! All Glory to God for the marvelous things that He has done.
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
(1 Cor. 15:55 NIV)
Source: Got Questions.org
Additional Scripture References: 1 Cor. 9:27; Col. 3:8-10; Rom. 6:6; Gal. 5:24; Eph. 4:20-24