Daily Devotional for Wednesday October 12, 2005
The Battle with the Flesh, the Allure of this World, Versus the Desire to Please God
( Romans 7:18, 25, 8:8,13; Galatians 5:17, 6:8; 1 John 2:17)
I believe that by God's grace, I just summed up the struggle every Christian faces each day in those first 16 words. The never ending battle with our flesh, fighting the allure of this temporal world that we live in for this brief season, overlaid with our desire to honor, please, and follow God. It is the classic struggle of giving into our will and desires or surrendering to God's will and desires. It is those many choices we all make each and every day to either honor God or rebel against Him. It is walking in the flesh or walking in the Spirit. This is a battle that EVERY follower of Christ fights every day. It is a battle that the men and women of God in the Bible fought, it is a battle that every follower of Christ these past 2000 years has fought, it is a battle that you fight, and it is a battle that I fight.
Throughout the Old Testament, we don't get much instruction on fighting this battle we all face each day. We are given the Law, the commandments from God Himself and told to follow them or there would be consequences. We read the Biblical accounts of men and women from Adam and Eve through the prophet Malachi 400 years before the birth of Jesus. We clearly see the struggles many of them had in following the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob versus giving into the lusts of their flesh and the desires of this world. We also clearly see the blessings that came from following God, as well as the great price paid when living in disobedience to God.
As we read the Gospels, we hear Jesus laying down those classic challenges to "pick up your cross and follow me," that "whoever loses his life for Me gains it," and "what does it profit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his soul." Jesus preaches the message of giving your life completely to Him, of surrendering your very life to follow Him. This was a foreign thought in His day just like it is a foreign thought today. The world clearly teaches that you should have all the money, pleasure, and things that it can offer. It is the eat, drink, and be merry mindset. So many come to faith in Christ having lived many years according to the world's philosophy that says "deny thyself no pleasure," when they are now being told by God's Word to deny your very life and give it to Jesus.
It is in Paul's letters that we get the most insight into the practical application of how to fight this battle we each fight every day. Paul was dealing with the reality of bringing people to faith in Christ that were used to dealing with life in a carnal way and were now being asked to deal with life in a spiritual way. That really is the bottom line to this war we are each in. A battle between living life in the flesh and living life in the Spirit. Walking after the desires of our flesh and the temporal things of this world that can have such a hold on us, and having a deep desire for the things of the Spirit and keeping our focus on the eternal things of God. Paul even details this classic struggle of the flesh versus the Sprit in those verses in Romans 7 where he states that, "for what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."
Many of Paul's writings dealt with this struggle between our carnal nature and our spiritual nature to help us understand it. So today, I want to do my best to help you with this battle we all face. Whether you have been saved for 2 minutes or 70 years, whether you are seeking God for what you are to do to serve Him or you are a highly visible man or woman that has served God faithfully for many years, please understand that NOBODY is immune from this battle of the flesh versus the Sprit and it is a battle you will fight until this brief journey though life is complete.
The most effective way I have found to fight this battle each day, and most important to WIN this battle, is through my relationship with Christ. You have got to understand that when Christ died on the cross, He died so that you could live in VICTORY, not defeat. His victory on that cross 2,000 years ago insured you would be able to live in victory too; victory over death, victory over this temporal world, and victory over sin. The key to you seeing victory each and every day is to walk in the victory Jesus won on the cross, and that means walking with Him each day.
This is why I implore you so often to be in the Word, to be in prayer every day. Our walk with Christ is not an hour a week on Sunday morning. Our walk with the Lord is literally 24/7/365. If we are to live in victory over the flesh, over our carnal nature, deny the temporal pleasures of this world, we have got to have the strength that only comes from Christ and that is why being in His Word and in prayer each and every day is so critical The closer you are to Christ, the stronger you are to withstand the temptations of this world The way you become closer to Christ is through the Word and prayer.
The other way you keep walking in victory each day is by staying busy. Did your mother ever tell you that an idle mind is the devil's workshop? Sadly, most days I end up dealing with pastors or people in the ministry who have fallen into sexual sin. One of the things I have noted over these many years is that a common element to most of these stories is the church or ministry was doing well and the person who fell had lots of free time on their hands. The reality is, when you are growing a church or a ministry, finding enough hours in the day to sleep is a huge challenge, let alone finding the time to get involved in a relationship outside of God's will.
However, with success often comes a season where things are not as frantic every day, there isn't as much pressure, and there are now free hours during the day that didn't use to be there. It is often in those seasons when things are going well that most pastors or people in ministry tend to fall. Look at David. It was during a time of rest, of relative peace that he fell with Bathsheba. So it is critical to live in Christ's victory over the flesh to stay busy, to have things to do. There is nothing wrong with being busy throughout the day. The more you have going on in your life, the less time you have to be tempted by your flesh and by the things of this world.
Of course, the best way to keep busy is by serving the Lord.. After all, our purpose in this life is to serve and glorify God. So while we have many things to do in our life, when you need something to do to stay busy, find ways to serve God! Jesus said the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. There is so much work to be done, and too few willing to do the work. So I would encourage you to make the time and effort to look at your daily schedule and try to find places in your week that you can devote to serving God. You will not only be fulfilling your purpose, but taking another step in winning the daily battle of honoring God with your life.
I love you and care about you so much. The battle we face with our flesh, with the allure of this world we live in, versus our desire to please God with our lives is something every follower of Christ has to fight every single day. Please don't underestimate satan and his goal to kill, steal, and destroy YOU! He knows your flesh is weak. He knows you love the things of this temporal world He also knows you love the Lord and want to please Him. That is why he attacks you. He wants you to fall, to see your testimony ruined, to bring shame upon God through you. He is waiting for you to get away from the Lord by not praying every day, by not reading the Word every day, and by not serving Him. He knows the further away from the Lord you get, the easier a target you become.
I will be praying for you today. Praying that you will walk in the victory that Jesus won on Calvary's cross 2,000 years ago. He died so that you could live your life in victory and not defeat. By putting your faith in Him, you have the assurance of spending all eternity with Him when this brief journey is over. It also assures you that you can live THIS LIFE in victory as well. Victory over the desires of your flesh. Victory over the temptations of this temporal world we live in. Victory by living a life that is pleasing and acceptable to the Lord and fulfilling your ultimate purpose in bringing glory to God through your life!
The battle lines are drawn. It is a battle each follower of Christ must fight every day. The lusts of our flesh and the things of this world versus pleasing God with our life. May you stand in VICTORY today as you defeat the flesh, say no to this world, and please God with your life!