Summary: Message 20 from Philippians. This continues exploring the admonition to stand firm. Stand firm against the flesh.
“Stand Firm Against the Flesh”
Paul addressed the important things around which to align our life that enables us to find joy no matter what in a letter written to followers of Jesus living in the Greek city called Philippi.
1. ADOPT THE RIGHT AXIS – A Passion to praise Christ
2. MAINTAIN THE RIGHT ATTITUDE – A Passion to please Christ
3. PURSUE THE RIGHT AIM – A Passion to pursue Christ
4. PRACTICE THE RIGHT ACTIONS – A Passion to live Christ
He specified several actions throughout chapter four.
The first admonition is to “stand firm in the Lord.”
A. Stand firm in the Lord 4:1
Therefore, my brothers, dearly loved and longed for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, dearly loved.
Over the past weeks, we have explored numerous Bible passages calling us to stand firm in the Lord. These passages apply to various life situation.
APPLYING STANDING FIRM IN THE LORD
Stand firm against persecution and false teaching
Stand firm in the storms of life.
Stand firm against the schemes of the Devil
Stand firm in The Faith.
Stand Firm Against the Flesh.
Peter strongly urged the followers of Jesus to address this deadly enemy.
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 2:11
Peter used a present active verb indicating an action you do regularly. “Continually abstain from these fleshly passions.” He didn’t say moderate these pesky passions.
He didn’t say ignore these passions. Because these passions continually wage war against our inner life, we are to continually abstain from, discard, get far away from, do away with them. We are not to give in to embedded sinful passions. “Do not give in” is literally “abstain,” with the idea not only of refraining from indulging in something, but of not allowing it to dominate one’s life. The term translated “flesh” can refer to several things. The term appears 147 times in the New Testament; 91 by Paul mostly in Romans and its partner letter Galatians. It is used to describe the physical human body. “Flesh and blood” “two became one flesh”
It is used in connection to humanity or blood relatives. “All flesh will see the glory of God”. It can refer to a morally neutral aspect of humanity. It can have reference to the physical body. i.e. Jesus became flesh.
It also appears in a specialized theological sense to refer to an inner drive or passion to function apart from God or any spiritual influence. In this sense, it refers to a morally negative bent passed on because of Adam’s sin. The modern translations often translate the term by the English “sinful nature.” Actually, there is no Biblical term “sinful nature” – it is a translation of “flesh”. Paul primarily focused on this aspect of the flesh. I think a more consistent translation would be “sinful flesh” to differentiate it from the plain amoral references.
Here are some core passages which reference this thing we are instructed to abstain from.
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 1 Peter 1:14
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Ephesians 2:1-3
Having put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires… Eph 4:22
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. Titus 3:3
For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:16-17
Like a substance addiction, these cravings come imbedded in our physiology from birth and affect our thinking, our feelings, our choices. We are like addicts no longer free to function any differently than dictated by these overpowering drives. Paul said we ALL once lived in passions of our flesh carrying out the desires of the body and the mind. Paul documented the external manifestation of the sinful flesh.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.