Killing the flesh

By Jennifer Moreno

The Bible speaks a lot about putting our flesh to death. But why does the Bible put so much emphasis on killing the flesh? I think it has a lot to do with obedience to G-d in every sense of the word.

Some may say, “oh, well we’re all human, we’re doing what we please, what’s wrong with that?” While I understand why some would say that, the reality is that the flesh counts for nothing and produces nothing good, but only destruction to one self.

Let’s take a look at what the flesh produces, Galatians 5:19-21 says- “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of G-d.”

It’s pretty evident that our flesh doesn’t bring us any good and if we act on our “earthly nature” we’re not doing’s G-d will for our life, nor are we yielding to the Holy Spirit, nor are we being obedient.

When we act on what our flesh wants, we’re not practicing self-control. In the Bible it mentions “self-control” as being one of the several fruits of the Spirit. Therefore, if we are filled with the Holy Spirit at all times, we should have the ability of self-control.

Romans 8:13 also expresses this by saying “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” The key word there, ‘by the Spirit.’

One of the hardest things about being a Christian in my personal opinion is fighting the battle between your flesh and what the Spirit wants.

Galatians 5:17 states that very battle Christians deal with on a daily basis – “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”

Furthermore Galatians 5:24 says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” That’s a pretty bold statement if you ask me. It’s pretty much saying, if you’re following Jesus, then you’re striving to walk in His ways and not in yours.

Jesus said to his disciples in Mathew 10:38-39 – “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”

Jesus is saying you have to deny yourself in order to walk with Him. To follow Him we must humbly get quiet to listen for His word in our hearts, we must obey Him. Self-denial happens when we obey the Lord’s will versus our will; this is the cross.

John 2:6 plainly states, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”

It’s pretty obvious that no one is perfect and G-d knows that, no need to panic here. But the truth is, G-d expects us to drop everything and put Him first. Meaning His will over our life, honoring Him and obeying Him only. It’s not an easy task, but we can rest in the fact that Jesus died for our sins and forgave us. However, just because that was taken care of, it does not mean we’re free to sin.

Paul says it clearly in Romans 6:1 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” We shouldn’t take advantage, but instead honor G-d for His incredible sacrifice and underserving mercy.

Paul goes on to say “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”

Romans 6:11-12 offers, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”

That means you died and you’re now free of sin, BUT you still have a responsibility to not let sin reign in your life. Our desire to live godly lives should pretty much stem from the love we have for Him, instead of pleasing ourselves.

So how then do we deny ourselves, stop sinning and walk like Jesus did? Galatians 5:1 helps us understand , “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Therefore, freedom is our responsibility and we MUST stand firm and not allow the yolk of slavery to be placed on our necks again. To do this, we must be in the Spirit at all times and pray that the Holy Spirit helps us with our desires.

Remember that G-d loves us and He set us free from sin, so why not take it? Why not be free from it and enjoy the beautiful abundance joy, peace and righteous that He has to offer. Because if you live from the Spirit, from the Spirit you will reap eternal life. – Galatians 6:8.

One Reply to “Killing the flesh”

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with the distinction we must draw between the accompanying sin of the ‘flesh’ and the fruits of being in the spirit.

    I would however say we have to be careful about this false dichotomy between the flesh (corporeal body, human nature, physical realm) and spirit (divine nature, spiritual morality) The two are not to be seen as distinct flesh and body vs spirit in a literal sense, rather we are cautioned about the depravity of inauthenticity and the purity of living authentically in Christ.

    We can see how to reconcile this line of thinking in a parallel passage in 1 Corinthians 6 14,19-20
    Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body…. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? … Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

    What Paul refers to as the flesh, he means inauthenticity; the false self, or what we would say is our ego or pride, only when we drop this flesh (false self), can we pick up our true self as the verse you referenced shows Mathew 10:38-39 – “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life (false self) will lose it, and he who has lost his life (drop the false self) for My sake will find it.(true self)”

    God does not call us to surrender our being to his being in the same way a drop of water disappears in the ocean, but rather he calls us to be joined to Him in relationship; like the dancer and the dance, the singer and the song. We are not the same, but we are also inseperable.


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