But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. – Romans 13:14
When the Bible talks about the ‘flesh’ it is talking about the natural evil desires present in all human beings as a result of the fall of man (see Original Sin… What’s Wrong with the Human Race?) The Apostle Paul in the New Testament makes it clear in a number of places that listening to our natural sinful, fleshly desires will lead us away from God not towards Him.
“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” – Romans 7:7-8
If we are letting our flesh tell us what we should and should not do we will be living in disobedience to God’s will. God wants us to learn to distinguish between God’s voice and the voice of our internal, evil desires. Now, as the text I quotes at the very beginning of this article points out, God asks us not to do anything to feed our flesh. Not to make ‘provision’ for the flesh. The Greek word for ‘provision’ is pronoia. It has in this word the idea of caring for, paying attention to, planning ahead for the needs of the flesh.
The Bible tells us not to listen to the needs of our flesh. Not to plan ahead for them. Not to give in to them. Not to go out of our way to make our flesh comfortable and happy. Now, how can we tell if a desire we have comes from our flesh or from God? The first thing to ask ourselves is if the desire we have in any way contradicts God’s word, the Bible. Does it hurt others? Does it hurt ourselves? Will it make us look good in front of others? Is it really a need or simply a desire?
The second test is if it is something you have tried to stop in the past and have been unable to. This is always the flesh. Nothing God inspires is hard to stop. God never traps us. He never forces our will to do anything. If we can’t stop or we can’t start it is a strong indication that the desire comes from our flesh.
Die Flesh! Die!
So what do we do with the desires of the flesh? They must die! How can we kill them? Not by ourselves, that’s for sure. God must do it in us. How does He do it? First, you need to surrender the thing to God. You must admit you have a problem and you can’t resolve it. Confess it as sin. Ask Him to come live inside of you. Ask him to take care of it and learn to abandon your flesh to God.
Finally, get rid of anything that triggers your fleshly desires. Don’t tempt yourself unnecessarily. It may involve a change of habits. A change of friends, certainly a change of thoughts. Throughout the process of crucifying your flesh, God must be in charge, not you. Ask him what to do and listen to the response you get.
God through Jesus Christ, will set you free! Will you let Him do it?