Summary: Message 15 in an exploration of the foundational elements for a healthy walk. This message continues a discussion regarding resisting the flesh (Prt 3)
“Death: the path to life”
A continuous battle rages against us.
III. Resolutely resist the evil of the world, the flesh and the devil
A. Renew and purify Your heart
B. Refuse conformity with the World
C. Renounce the flesh
1. Biblical use of the word flesh (sarx)
Reference to the self-centered passions fallen man
There are many different ideas about the nature of this thing called the flesh. Everyone came into this world with longing and desires. Many of those desires stem from the way God created us. But since the sin of Adam, each person entered this world with twisted appetites. They are perversions of the standard longing installed by God at creation.
• God created us with a capacity for pleasure through relationships and interpersonal connection and interaction with all His creation.
• God created us with an inner appreciation of the physical, material world created by God and cultivated by man through a life of faith and obedience to God,
• God created us with a sense of worth and significance through identity with the Creator and personal holiness.
Like many of our physical appetites these appetites became twisted and distorted through inheritance and personal experimentation. Our basic appetite for food becomes dangerous when we develop cravings and obsessions with certain kinds of food. What God intended as a natural drive, becomes twisted by misuse. Our basic sexuality becomes twisted through exposure to a devil-distorted view of sex. We determine early what is “sexy” through our environment and culture. The more perverted our culture the further we slide from God’s original plan. The flesh is the product of generation after generation of devil diverted and distorted longings ingrained at conception. Satan directs the people and inventions of this creature-centered society to appeal to at least three core appetites deeply engrained at the fleshly level of everyone conceived from the time of Adam.
1 - The flesh craves satisfaction through sensory pleasure apart from God’s selfless love and eternal purpose.
The flesh cries out for satisfaction from pleasant sensations and experiences without any significant urge to give of ourselves selflessly to others or without notable thought of eternal purpose. God created man to find pleasure in serving others. (God is love)
The flesh craves pleasure from self-centered things.
Pornography Entertainment, Sexuality, drugs, food, Any activity whose primary function is to bring me pleasure. Warm sensations and experiences.
God created man to find pleasure through involvement in eternal purpose. (I delight to do your will. My food is to do the will of him who sent me.)
The flesh craves pleasure from things that have no eternal purpose.
Entertainment industry. Sporting industry. Amusement industry. The whole computer game industry.
What a brilliant scheme. We have eternity to enjoy every imaginable pleasure and delight that God can create without thought of a single time constraint. For now, Jesus left us with a primary focus for our life. Love and obey God, love and serve people, renounce and resist evil, seek and save the lost. The new spirit of every genuine believer longs to fill our days and heart with those eternal purposes. The flesh longs to occupy and distract our attention to things that are not related to the things that God asked us to do. There is a time for resting and unfathomable pleasure. For now, we are to deny those things for a higher purpose and the proper time.
Young people; sex is a great God-given gift. You spend all your energy thinking about and engaging in sexual activity during the time of your greatest opportunity to impact your world for Christ. You have a lifetime of sexual pleasure within the commitment of marriage. For now, give yourselves to the purposes of God. Serve him undistracted with your entire mind, soul, strength and body.
Time is life and life is time. God allots only so much time to each person. How will we invest those minutes? Everything we do should have some connection to God’s purpose for leaving us on this earth.
• Pleasure without love is empty and self-serving.
• Pleasure at someone else’s expense is destructive.
• Pleasure without eternal purpose forfeits eternal reward.
The flesh craves selfish pleasure apart from love or eternal purpose.
The spirit finds pleasure in loving others and doing all things for God’s glory and purpose. Jesus met the sensual temptation by declaring the truth from Scripture Man does not live by physical food along but real life is found by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
2 – The flesh craves security and status through material possessions apart from complete trust in God and obedient stewardship
The flesh urges us to rely on things for a sense of comfort and security. As long as I have plenty of stuff and a significant bank account, I am secure and do not need to rely on God for my future. I’ve got it covered. God created man to live by faith in him and be stewards of what he graciously provides. The flesh craves security through the accumulation and hoarding of material possessions.