The Battle of the Flesh

Today’s Truth
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).

Let’s Pray
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,
Amen.

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.

12 Responses to The Battle of the Flesh

  1. Louiscendre Fortin June 25, 2009 at 11:46 am #

    Sharon Jaynes, my name is Louiscendre Fortin and I just wanted to thank you for this devotion because it has come at the right moment and time in my life. I am going through a phase where i believe i have a little bit of depression and reading this devotion has helped me to want to get back on track with God and change my thoughts and ways and leave it all up to God.

  2. Joi June 25, 2009 at 2:00 pm #

    Wonderful devotion! I LOVE the analogy of the goose – that’s absolute perfection.

    My biggest struggle is with the mind – it wanders like a lost puppy. It’ll want to dwell on the silliest things (celebrity gossip, reality tv…) Now, whenever I find it wandering away (to places that produce not a single thing), I’ll picture myself pecking at my reflection.

    Hopefully I’ll feel so darned silly that I’ll round my thoughts back up and be more productive! Thanks!

  3. Elizabeth Mahoney June 25, 2009 at 2:02 pm #

    We lost our jobs, house and living on what use to be our golden nest egg. My husband is depressed and at times suicide thoughts come his way. I love God. I am tempted when I remember what we use to have. I remember it as security. I know God is my fortress but the battle is fierce. My husband and my teenager misses our old life. I have to accept it and continue to pray for work. We can’t enjoy what little we do have bec it has been a huge change in our lives. I read yr devotion and I believe everything it said. But it is not easy. At times I can hold on to God’s word but when the attacks come and they come firece – I feel like I’m slipping and wish we had a house to live in. I do need prayer.

  4. 1st Irma Williams June 25, 2009 at 2:25 pm #

    Minister Jaynes – I am a writer of poems and prose from a Christian perspective. I am also a recent member of the GiG newsletter and have enjoyed being a member to receive some of the most inspiring words that help me through the day. As I read the encouraging words that you ministered today, I notice the style in which you write and I am brought to acknowledge that much of my writing comes from past hurts, and disappointments that I have suffered through the years. I appreciate your words of encouragement and look forward to receiving more in the future. Thanks and God bless.

  5. Laura K June 25, 2009 at 5:55 pm #

    Sharon, thank-you for reminding me that I will never be perfect, It is not humanly possible, but God knows my heart and as long as I keep trying, fighting the good fight, he will bless me and use me for his glory. I love your devotions. Thank you for sharing God’s insight in your life and your love.
    God Bless you.

  6. Carmen June 26, 2009 at 4:24 am #

    wanted to thank you for this devotion because it has come at the right moment and time in my life. Today was a sad day for me. I received your devotions but I do not read all the time. Thanks for the word of
    encouragement. God has a purpose for everything. Praise Him!

  7. Carmen June 26, 2009 at 4:37 am #

    God continue to use you for his Glory, Sharon. May I ask for a family prayer while we are on mission in Peru for the month of July. Thanks

  8. Miriam Nelson June 26, 2009 at 6:52 am #

    Sharon, thank you for today’s devotional. It has particularly touched me at this time in my life because somehow I have wandered away from God and the form it took was prayerlessness and busyness. As I read the devotional, the Holy Spirit continued convicting me as He has been doing. I am sincerely going to try harder to change this and once again have a close walk with God. Again, thank you. I always enjoy your posts.

  9. Petra June 26, 2009 at 11:53 am #

    I love your description of the flesh “our sinful thought patterns and actions that we have developed over time . . . . our mechanisms for getting our needs met apart from God.” It’s a really simple, yet deep way of explaining this problem in our lives.

    I too love your example of the duck. My struggle, as I believe it is for many Americans, is the desire for material things in this world. I think that’s an issue that God is working on in my life – because I’m becoming more aware at the times when I start to focus on wanting more. With our changing economy, I see this as an opportunity for God to draw more people to rely on him for their needs and self worth instead of the material things that we are used to here in America.

    I want my life to count for God and the more I can trust in him rather than my flesh, the more he’ll use me. I thank you for this reminder.

  10. M LADY July 18, 2009 at 9:51 pm #

    Hi Sharon, I only just started reading some of your articles and some of your devotions and I must say I’m blown away. My walk with God has not been at its best and having read this article about “the flesh” being our biggest enemy I’m inspired to try harder to really be a person who walks by the spirit. Personall I struggle with fleshly desires but it’s when I read articles such as this I’m reminded that when I gave my life unto God it stopped being about what I want but rather what God wants.

    Thank you I’m deeply inspired to try harder to be the best I can be for me and for the glory of God

  11. Tshan July 22, 2009 at 12:32 pm #

    Hi Sharon,

    i just recently started getting the emails and i wanted to thank you for this article! i’m finding myself going DOWNHILL in reference to the “flesh!” i’m TIRED of being alone, it’s been 18 years since i divorced my husband because of his adulterous act. He has since re-married and no one has come into my life. i’ve stood strong all of those years, but i’m finding these last 18 mos to be the HARDEST in my christian walk. i’m being bombarded with men coming at me and i’m finding myself NOT wanting to resist! i’ve done somethings that i’m not proud of-i’ve asked the FATHER in Heaven through JESUS for forgiveness and asking the HOLY SPIRIT to help me, but i find myself going back! Please intercede for me (Prayer of Agreement) i really want to change, but in my heart i feel HE has forgotten about my desire for a GODLY MATE
    so i’m asking the HOLY SPIRIT to help me and i am speaking HIS WORD over my situation EVERYDAY for i know HE will never forsake me, i just need to encourage myself in the LORD

  12. Agnes Lee September 1, 2010 at 5:10 am #

    Dearest Sharon~ I was blessed by your devotion about the flesh. I am a christian, and I need deliverance from cigarette smoking. Please pray with & for me about this. Also, pray my strength in The Lord. Thank you so much. Agnes

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