January 18, 2005
How to Keep the Flesh From Sinning
It took me years to understand the flesh and Spirit. After I
did an exhaustive study in the Greek and Hebrew on the constitution of man I
thought I had a handle on it, only to have the Lord then introduce some truths
again from his word that totally blew my understanding out of the water. The
best way to understand the flesh is to read my articles on
Spiritual Warfare. These articles are what the Lord has taught me
over the years about the nature of the flesh and what on this side of heaven are
the only reasonable and possible solutions to controlling our flesh. John, to
state it simply, we do not control the flesh by focusing on the flesh. By that I
mean trying to overcome it ourselves or being focused on it (and I am not saying
you are doing this, just commenting for further comments). The way we overcome
the problem of the flesh, what the Lord has taught me over the years, what I put
into practice and works (as well as it can work on this side of heaven) and has
worked for others as I have taught them, is what I outlined in
step seven of deliverance.
I was just going to share that part of it with you in my last letter, but I felt
the extreme of exorcism outlined in the article would help you to see the
simplicity of what is required to get free and stay free.
First, getting free and staying free isnít about whether the
flesh is free. The flesh on this side of heaven will never be free, so when we
talk about getting free and staying free, we are talking about how to keep the
dead man, as Paul describes it, buried and inactive.
The Bible means many things by the flesh: the body, our
fallen soul, the soul & body. God made a statement in Genesis 6:3 which
clarifies this: "My Spirit shall not always strive with man; in their erring he
is flesh; and his days shall be a hundred and twenty years." When Adam and Eve
sinned, acted out of the initiative of their soul, they came into bondage to
their soulís. By bondage, once we sin in an area, like taking drugs over and
over, even after getting off drugs, that person still and always will have a
pull to drugs. That is because now it is a permanent part of their soul until
the resurrection. That is what I mean when I say we all have a propensity to
sin, meaning certain sins we struggle with more than others. They are sins we
yielded to many times, and now even though we know Jesus, they are the ones we
most stumble over as we walk with Jesus and have to confess and repent of over
and over again. That is what Paul was talking about in Romans 7:14 when he said
"For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to
sin." He was talking about the bondage of His soul. However, after Adam and Eve
sinned and all they had was their soul: their intellect and feelings; and their
flesh (body): appetite and desires to lead and guide them through life; as time
went on actually all manís focus became was satisfying the lusts of his body,
his flesh, in total disregard to the soul and its development; so that even the
soul now is sunk into bondage to the appetite and desires of the body, and thus
what God meant when he said about man "in their erring he is flesh." God meant,
not only has man yielded to his soul, and thus is in bondage to the soul and
yields to it, but even worse, he has yielded the control of his soul to the
appetite and desires of his body so that he is dominated by the flesh so that he
isnít even able to develop his soul potential.
Proverbs 6:32 "The one who commits adultery with a woman is
lacking heart; he who would destroy his soul does it."
Now man acts just like an animal who is governed daily by its
bodily needs. Look at commercials, what are they focused on? The bodily desires.
Thus God said "in their erring he is flesh", or not only is manís human spirit
not in control, not even his soul is in control, only his body is so that he is
nothing but flesh. So when the Bible talks about the flesh, this is what it is
talking about: it is talking about the fallen soul which has yielded to the
appetite and desires of the body so that man is really not even controlled by
the desires of his soul, but only the appetite and desires of his body so that
he is nothing but flesh. Thus Paul wrote in Galatians 5:17 "For the flesh
with-strong-passion-fights 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." That is the reason for fasting in the Bible. What are we doing
when we fast? We are denying not our soul or our human spirit, we are denying
our body, our flesh. We are saying "Flesh, for this day(s) I am not going to
give my attention to you, but to the Holy Spirit through my human spirit. For
the next day or two all the attention of my soul is going to be focused on the
what the Holy Spirit has to say to me through my human spirit. That is because
it is the human soul (where the will lies) which makes that decision, not the
human spirit. The human spirit is just the vehicle through which God
communicates to us. So the soul says "I am going to turn from giving my flesh
all the attention for a while to give nothing but the Holy Spirit attention
through my human spirit. Anyone who has fasted knows how difficult this battle
is. The moment you missed breakfast, what are you thinking about? The Lord? No!
You are thinking about how you would like to have some fried eggs, potatoes,
sausage and toast because your body, your flesh is screaming into your ear "Iím
hungry!!!" LOL. So it is a real battle to get our minds (another organ of the
soul) off of the flesh.
Getting our minds off of our bodies and onto the Holy Spirit
through our human spirit doesnít change the desires of the flesh, but it does
allow God to give us more of the power of the Holy Spirit so we can manage our
flesh and bring it into submission to Godís will and do that rather than spend
100% of our time catering to and just satisfying the fleshís wants and desires.
That is what Jesus was talking about when he said in Matthew 26:41 "Keep
watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is
willing, but the flesh is weak."
We do not overcome the flesh by trying to overcome the flesh.
That is a hopelessly lost cause (Rom 8:6-8). We overcome the flesh by, first,
focusing on Jesus in prayer and seeking Him for His Holy Spirit grace, strength
and power to overcome the flesh. Only the Holy Spirit can overcome our flesh.
Zechariah 3:6 "ĎNot by might, nor by power, but by
My-Spirit,í declares Yehovah-of-hosts."
Romans 8:6-8 "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the
mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is
hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is
not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God."
That is the only way You can overcome the flesh, there is no
other way, that is on this side of heaven, because on this side of heaven the
flesh is in bondage to sin and will ever remain so, and that is why we needed a
Savior in the first place: not only to deliver us from the penalty of sin,
death, but also from the power of sin over us while on earth until he takes us
home to heaven where we are then freed also from the presence of sin and the
desire to sin. Forever free from any propensity to sin or want to sin. This is
what Paul promises us in Philippians 3:20-21 "For our citizenship is in heaven,
from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord-Jesus-Christ; who
will-transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His
glory, by the exertion of the power that he has even to subject all things to
Himself." This is what we mean when we say that our hope is not in this life,
but in the life to come. We have no hope in this life over the flesh. Not only
that, but God makes plain that so hopeless is the condition of the flesh that it
will not inherit the kingdom of God:
1 Corinthians 15:50 "Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and
blood is not able to inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit the
That is why we are promised a new resurrected body completely
transformed and made like the body Jesus now has in heaven, a completely
incorruptible body that cannot sin and has no desire to sin.
So how then do we on this side of heaven keep the hopelessly
unrepairable corrupted flesh from sinning, that is keep it from dominating us
and controlling our actions? First, by calling upon Jesus for deliverance from
the power of the flesh whenever its uggly head pops up and starts trying to take
control! We only want to overcome through the power of the Holy Spirit, not
through the will-power of the flesh. That is because that will only result in
our being in deeper bondage to the problem we are trying to overcome. So the
first step of overcoming the flesh that works is falling on our bodies knees and
crying out "Jesus! Save me!!!" Jesus promises us in Romans 10:13 "For whoever
will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved" and in 2 Thessalonians 3:3
"But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil
one" and in Isaiah 41:10 "Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look
about you, for I am your Elohim. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."
The second step is to fill our time with Godís will in our
use of time, time management.
Ephesians 5:15-17 "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as
unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are
evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."
As long as we are occupied with Godís will, we are not
focused on the flesh, and thus we are not motivated to sin.
On this side of heaven, this is the only way we can manage
and control our flesh and keep it from sinning. However, by saying keeping our
flesh from sinning, we mean from dominating us most the time, not from sinning
period, for on this side of heaven sinless perfect over the flesh is not
possible, only controlling its desire to sin most the time is possible. This is
what Paul meant when he said in Galatians 5:16 "But I say, walk by the Spirit,
and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." Note,
he does not say that when you walk in the spirit, the desires of the flesh
disappear, he only says that when we walk in the Holy Spirit, fill our time and
mind with His will for us, that we will not be focused on or CARRY OUT the
desires of the flesh. Why? Because only when we are idle, not
occupied with our minds with Godís will and activities for us in our use of
time, do we then turn our minds and focus on the desire of the flesh. When that
happens, we will sin.
1 John 1:8 "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving
ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
1 John 1:10 "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a
liar, and His word is not in us."
James 1:13-15 "Let no one say when he is tempted, ĎI am being
tempted by Godí; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he Himself does not
tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his
own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is
accomplished, it brings forth death."
We are only carried away and enticed by the lust of our flesh
when we are idle and our mind is then automatically focused on our flesh and
what it wants and desires. When that happens, we are then going to look for a
way to fulfill our lusts. Example, you see something on TV or a movie of someone
having sex with someone. From that point on all you have on your mind is the
desire to have sex with someone, to fulfill your lust. This is because the flesh
has been incited to sin. However, if you are occupied with sharing Jesus with
others with Your free time and using your time otherwise according to Godís
will, you mind is then focused on and occupied with that and not on the desires
of the flesh, and thus you are not incited to sin. That is the only way on this
side of heaven you can keep your flesh from sinning. There is no other way. Thus
why Paul states in Galatians 5:16 "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will
not carry out the desire of the flesh." That is the only way on this side of
heaven you can keep the flesh under control and keep it from sinning. There is
no other way.
I do not know where you are getting this idea of the soul and
the spirit being the same being, they are not. They are the same Man, but not
the same entity within the man. God created us in His image:
Father and Son and Holy Spirit.
Man is spirit and soul and
body. The body is not the soul and the soul is not the spirit, they are
three separate entities in one man, with three different functions:
Genesis 2:7 "Then Yehovah Elohim formed man of dust from
the-ground, and breathed into his-nostrils the spirit of lives; and man
1 Thessalonians 5:23 "Now may the God of peace Himself
sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved
complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
God is Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Man is spirit and soul
and body. When your body dies, you do not cease to exist: your soul and spirit
go on to be with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:8 "We are of good courage, I say, and prefer
rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord." Also in Phil
1:23 "But I am hard-pressed from both directions having the desire to depart and
be with Christ, for that is very much better."
Paul tells us on this side of heaven our bodies are
controlled by our soul, but in heaven our bodies are controlled by our human
1 Corinthians 15:44-45 "It is sown a body
motivated-and-controlled-by-the-soul, it is raised a body
motivated-and-controlled-by-the-spirit. If there is a body
pertaining-to-the-soul, there is also a body pertaining-to-the-spirit. So
also it is written, ĎThe first man, Adam, was-created a living soul.í The last
Adam into a life-giving spirit."
This is why in heaven we do not sin because in heaven our
bodies are controlled by our human spirit, not our weak souls. Our human spirit
is controlled by the Holy Spirit, thus in heaven there is complete harmony in
all we do because we are 100% of the time walking in the Holy Spirit without
error. That is also the reason why as Christians, even though we are saved and
going to heaven, we still struggle with sin because our bodies are still on this
side of heaven controlled by the soul which is in bondage to sin. That is why we
daily have a quiet time and submit ourselves to
Jesus and draw upon His Holy Spirit grace, strength and power to control our
sinful soul and flesh so we can focus on his will, not the desires of the soul
and flesh. When we spend time with the Lord, the fleshís desire does not seep
away, it is just that our human spirit is strengthened and becomes more dominate
over the flesh. The rest of what you say, however is correct. Jesus is the food
and nourishment of the human spirit just as physical food is the nourishment of
the body. Thus fasting is weakening the flesh and drawing upon Jesusí Holy
Spirit grace, strength and power to strengthen the human spirit. The end result
is your human spirit now becomes dominate over the flesh. However, just like the
flesh which needs to daily be nourished with food, so the human spirit needs to
daily be nourished with Jesus and His word. Obviously there is a balance here
because you cannot go on a permanent fast or you will kill your human body. That
is committing suicide. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:17 "If any man destroys the
temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is
what you are." The balance is making sure you daily have a quiet time with Jesus
in His word to nourish your human spirit so it will be dominant over the flesh,
and to fast when the flesh becomes particularly troublesome.
There is nothing wrong with your comments, you are on the
right path, but proper understanding of the relationship of the human spirit to
the soul and body and their separate function in in your humanity is necessary
to have a right view of them and realistic expectations of what is possible
concerning them on this side of heaven.
As I get older I find it harder and harder to control my time
and sleep habits. This is particularly troubling to me because of what God wants
me to accomplish with my life. I find I am not able to accomplish as much during
the week as I could when I was younger and could endure a lot more stress and
dominance over my physical man. I prayed about this recently to the Lord and His
response to me was to just keep going and doing the best I can. It was troubling
to me because I am concerned I may not finish the works he wants me to do before
He calls me home. His answer tells me I just have to trust in Him for His Holy
Spirit grace, strength and power to make sure I do despite the weakness of my
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 "And because of the surpassing
greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself,
there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet meóto
keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times
that it might depart from me. And He has said to me, ĎMy grace is sufficient for
you, for power is perfected in weakness.í Most gladly, therefore, I will rather
boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses,
with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christís sake; for when I am weak,
then I am strong."
Jesus has allowed the weakness of our flesh so we will be
dependent on Him and His Holy Spirit grace, strength and power to overcome and
succeed. That is the key to victorious Christian living, coming to understand we
cannot, only He can and then knowing how to draw upon His Holy Spirit grace,
strength and power so we do. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things
through Him who strengthens me", not through Paulís power and strength, but
Jesusí. As long as you daily remind yourself of that and spend daily time with
Jesus and His Word to draw upon His Holy Spirit grace, strength and power to
carry out His will, you will and you will succeed.
"Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body
of this death?" (Romans 7:24)