Today we will learn how not to give in to our flesh. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” Some of our natural appetites are not in and of themselves sinful. But if we overindulge them, they can lead us into sin. Take eating for example. Consider your eating habits. Is there a particular food that you just cannot live without? Do you eat too much of something when presented the chance? Or do you exercise self-control? If over-eating is a problem for you, whether you are overweight or not, you should make definite steps to limit the foods that are causing you to eat too much. Try skipping dessert a few times a week. Drop down to one soda a day. Stop after one helping. Or maybe your area of weakness is in getting up in the morning. Do you have a hard time consistently getting up on time to spend time with God in prayer? No, this is not exactly a sin, however we do need to discipline ourselves to grow in the Word. Maybe sticking to an earlier bedtime would help when the alarm goes off in the morning. 1 Corinthians 9:27 “It is my own body I fight to make it do what I want. I do this so that I won’t miss getting the prize myself after telling others about it.”
Romans 12:1-2 “So I beg you, brothers and sisters, because of the great mercy God has shown us, offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him—an offering that is only for God and pleasing to him. Considering what he has done, it is only right that you should worship him in this way. Don’t change yourselves to be like the people of this world, but let God change you inside with a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to understand and accept what God wants for you. You will be able to know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect.”
The more we allow our flesh to control our minds, the harder it will be to say no to temptations. Each area of temptation can lead to sin in other areas. Sin weakens us. The more we allow sin, the easier it will be to sin next time.
Take the sin of greed. Materialism is huge in our culture. People seem to never be satisfied with what they currently have. Greed is defined in the Bible as idolatry. An idol is anything which takes the place of God in our hearts. Think of the Israelites who were wandering in the desert and who never were satisfied with God’s provisions. They constantly complained against Him, and Moses.
The more we give in to the flesh, the more we become lazy in our determination to do what we know is right. Instead of going by what we “feel” like doing, we need to do what we have determined ahead of time (like getting up early, or exercising after work). We seldom feel like doing the right thing, and certainly not all of the time.
One way to overcome the evil desires of the flesh is to remove as many temptations as possible. 2 Timothy 2:22 “Stay away from the evil things a young person like you typically wants to do. Do your best to live right and to have faith, love, and peace, together with others who trust in the Lord with pure hearts.” And in Romans 13:14 “But be like the Lord Jesus Christ, so that when people see what you do, they will see Christ. Don’t think about how to satisfy the desires of your sinful self.” Remove the temptation before it becomes sin. Proverbs 27:12 “Wise people see trouble coming and get out of its way, but fools go straight to the trouble and suffer for it.”
Our responsibility is to keep the sinful desires of our bodies under control. The only to successfully do this is through the power of the Holy Spirit. Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”