Perhaps, the biggest struggle for every born again Christian, is dealing with the desires of the flesh. The devil considers the flesh his biggest arson of attack, for he knows that inside every Christian, there is an innate desire to satisfy self. More often, we hear of church leaders engaged in unimaginable deeds, ranging from misdemeanor offenses, such as petty theft, to sexual harassments and even homicide, with intent to satisfy that personal desire imbedded within. These just reflect the weaknesses of the flesh, despite an innocent desire to serve the Lord. What is this flesh? You may want to ask, and how do we take control of it? The flesh does not just refer to the physical body; it also entails our nature of existence in the physical realm. The needs, desires and wants, successes, joy, happiness and triumphs, failures, trials, tribulations and suffering encountered while in the world. The flesh incorporates the emotional, psychological, and intellectual existence.
There are a number of steps a Christian can take to guard himself/herself against the attacks of the devil through the flesh. The bible says in Mathew 26:41, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” Jesus was speaking to His disciples, on His preparation for His betrayal. Being in the physical realm, Christ knew that once His arrest takes effect, the spirit of fear and intimidation will overwhelm His disciples, and cloud their minds. Many are the times when fear has blocked Christians from experiencing God when they face obstacles or challenges in life. The initial point of attack on Christians is through creating doubt; doubt that Christ is alive, that He is the way, the truth and the life, that God will fulfill His promises. Doubt sets a stage for fear to terrorize man in the flesh. In the scripture, Jesus cautions us to keep watch, that what he has said will come to pass, and to keep praying that the Father will give us strength, boldness and courage to face the challenges in life.
The flesh resists us from transforming into the person God wants us to be. However, by the grace of God, and through the Holy Spirit, there is a newness of the spirit, for his grace is sufficient every morning. To enjoy this newness, and every passing hour, we must learn to crucify the flesh, together with its desires. 1st Peter 4:1-2 says, ” For us much then Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise, with the same mind; for he that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of time in the flesh to the lust of men, but to the will of God”. How do we crucify the flesh? By crucifixion, we acknowledge that we are sinners and with openness and hearts of repentance, we come to Christ for forgiveness and salvation. It means a shift of power, from us to God, a shift of will, that His will may prevail. It means surrendering the self (me, myself and I) for God. Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me”. Galatians 5:24 “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”. Being alive in the flesh has and will expose us to the struggle to satisfy the desires of the flesh. But being alive in the flesh, with Christ in control, grants us a peace that the world will not understand. Yes we will suffer the trials and tribulations, but the end result is eternal life. By the cross, we are simply detaching ourselves from the slavery of sin. Crucifying your flesh does not mean stay out of pleasure. Indeed, God is the author of true pleasure that is not tainted with sin in any way. In fact, God provides perfect pleasures that bring lasting satisfaction and joy, unlike the temporary pleasures that selfish sin could ever offer. Mathew 13:44 says, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; which when a man has found, he hides, and for joy thereof goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.”
Positive thinking is a powerful tool against the desires of the flesh. In our daily lives, we face situations that may end up temping us, for example, a beautiful lady crossing your sight may cause you to want her, or when alone in a room, you may want to steal or surf porn online, and many other instances. Whenever they occur, remind yourself of the goodness of the Lord, and think positively. Keeping your mind off your own desires is also helpful. Galatians 5:13 says, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another”.