I HAD A CHILDHOOD FRIEND who’s mom was overweight by a 100 lbs or more and she bought a leotard that was about a size 2. Apparently, this was the size she was when she was 19. She said she was going to lose weight to fit into this tiny piece of clothing and she meant it it at the time she said it. But after a few weeks of dieting, she went right back to her old ways. This is a very common story, especially around the new year mark. People start out with good intentions to stop a bad habit, make right wrongs, discipline their flesh, and more of the same.
There are many words the flesh hates, but two probably more than any other: discipline and self-control. Jesus tells us that our flesh is weak. The flesh represents this earthly suit we live in. It’s the old man and his old ways of thinking and doing things. The flesh is always seeking to gain control over us and since we have to live in a fleshly body while we live on this earth; we must be aware of its wants and desires. Romans chapters 6-8 represent the battle between the flesh and the spirit.
For the record, the common verse in Romans 7:19 that many use to justify their sin, “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” Paul wrote referencing an unregenerate man trying to abide by God’s law without the Holy Spirit. We cannot please God, nor can we obey Him without the Spirit. Romans chapter 8 continues with the victory of the Spirit of God over our flesh and sin. It is the only way to overcome our sinful flesh. We cannot do it on our own strength.
“All of you must keep awake (give strict attention, be cautious and active) and watch and pray, that you may not come into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41
Perhaps if Peter would have heeded Jesus’ words, he might not have denied Him. If Peter would have kept watch and prayed, he may have overcame the flesh. He was undisciplined. One can argue that he was not yet born again, yet at this point he did have the power of the Spirit working in him to heal and cast out demons. Why could he not overcome his hour of temptation? He was not alert. He did not watch and pray as he was instructed to do. He did not discipline his flesh.
We see that the apostle Paul learned early on that he had to control his fleshly nature, otherwise he could be disqualified. I have heard OSAS people say that he would be disqualified from preaching the gospel. That’s not what Paul meant. You have to seriously twist Scripture in order to not understand what Paul is saying. He said that even though he preached to thousands, if he did not control his own flesh; he could miss out on receiving the prize. It is a real warning in Scripture to keep our flesh under the control of the Spirit:
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” I Corinthians 9:24-27
Even if you have strong will power, the flesh is weak. It must be disciplined. You can only get by on will power for a short amount of time and the flesh will come screaming at you to give it what it wants. What shall we do? Give yourself completely over to the power and authority of the Holy Spirit. Surrender your will to be led and guided by Him at all times.
Watch and PRAY! Stay alert to the ways of the enemy and pray. Learn how to discipline your flesh. Does your flesh control you? Or do you control the flesh through the power of the Holy Spirit? Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life- meaning you are allowing yourself to be put under His control. This is with anything that will try to control you, not just food. You can overcome all the lusts and desires of the flesh through the power of the Spirit. All things are possible and you are more than a conqueror if you are in Christ!
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