Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What To Do With The Deeds of The Flesh?

We are, as believers, mandated in Holy Writ to "put to death" the deeds of the flesh. Putting to death the deeds of the flesh is basic or foundational to the Christian's life. This is because when we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we are not walking in them but in the Spirit. Paul writes that we are "to walk in a manner worthy of our calling with which we have been called." (Eph. 4:1) Paul expounds this further in Col. 1: 9-10, in which he says he prays constantly for the Colossians the following:

"For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." (NASB)

Note here what Paul says: walking in a manner worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in every respect, bearing fruit unto every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God would be the direct consequences of Paul asking God in prayer for the Saints at Colosse to being filled (controlled/empowered) with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual understanding and wisdom. All of this is directly opposite to a life in the flesh.

To walk in the Spirit is to walk in a manner worthy of our calling or in a manner worthy of the Lord. This is what we are to do; this is what it is all about. And, what prevents us from doing what we ought is the ever-warring factions within us, the flesh and the Holy Spirit within us. All our failures in our Christian life are caused by the flesh. To learn just exactly how to put to death the deeds of the flesh and walk in the Spirit, the answer to everything, Paul also wrote,

"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." (Gal. 5:16 NKJV)

Paul's teaching in Gal. 5 shows us that a life of walking in the Spirit is the very secret or key to the Christian life. God wants us, as His children, to live a life that is controlled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Every evil word, thought, and deed comes from our sinful flesh. In Romans 8:10, Paul tells us that we've been changed in our inner man in Christ and it is that against which our sinful flesh wars.

Sinful flesh wrecks our fellowship with God by exerting its powerful influence and causing us to fall. This influence feels insurmountable over our minds and will. It pushes, plods, yanks us senseless, and is relentless. Its strongest influence is perhaps on our emotions. The flesh sets its strongest opposition against the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5: 17). It is in this opposition where the "how to perform that which is good I find not because nothing good dwells in me that is my flesh" (Romans 7:18) is discovered. The control center that sin seeks to find within us is in our flesh. It is there it seeks to wreak its devastating power over us. To operate in the flesh, the Bible calls "quenching" the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19) or "grieving" the Spirit (Eph. 4:30).

If putting to death the deeds of the flesh and walking in the Spirit is the answer to everything, then how is it done? What are the facts in Scripture?

Though the Bible does not teach that we become sinless when we believe in Christ for our salvation, it does teach that the moment we call upon Christ as Lord and Savior, we are born again unto a living hope. It means we are eternally kept from condemnation and guilt and freed from sin's dominion or rule. We are instantly put into a position before God (in Christ) where He does not hold to our account our sin and a position in which we are dead to sin and its dominion over us through our co-death, co-burial, co-resurrection, and co-ascension in Christ. It is from that position we are free from sin's control as a pattern of life (See Rom. 6:1-23; Col. 3:1-17).

From that position in Christ, we are to "count on" ourselves indeed dead unto sin's control and alive unto God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11). We put to death-refuse to yield to-the deeds of the flesh based on who we are in Christ-that Romans 6:11 "reckoning". If the driving desire is not in a professing believer to do that, then this gives one pause regarding one's faith.

There was a time in my Christian life where I confessed sin after sin, only to have sin re-accumulate from one confession period to another. The same sin seemed to always rear its ugly habitual head. There were patterns of sin that I never addressed and, probably as a young man and believer in Christ, didn't know how or even that I should.

It was this concept of my "position in Christ" that was presented to me in high school that ended up transforming my walk with God. I began bringing (and still bring) areas of my life, habitual ones, to God in prayer, claiming the facts of His Word regarding sin that sought to rule my flesh. I asked the Holy Spirit to work in my mind the willingness and the doing of His good pleasure of not yielding to a specific sin (any and all sin) so that I might walk in a manner worthy of my calling in a consistent and habitual way. I would claim all this according to the promise of His word found in 1 John 5:14-15:

"Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him."

Was it His will that I no longer yield to sin in any sense and especially habitually? According to the verses cited in this paper, yes. Then I had the confidence that He not only heard me in my request but I also had the confidence I had that which I had asked of Him.