Guest ‘Week’ Part 3: BATTLING AGAINST LIVING IN THE FLESH

Part 3 today – and I’m excited to welcome to the site Brian L Barber – an online acquaintance from the US of A! I have been most influenced by his entreaties to ‘Play the Man’ on his own site and have thus invited him to contribute here. So, read on to be convinced of the merits of bible memorisation (memorization if you’re American!). Do feel free to comment with your thoughts – I know it’s most encouraging for those who take the time to write.

Pastor John Piper was asked recently if he ever doubted the sincerity of his own devotion to Christ.  His answer was, “Yes.”  But he was also asked that if he did have doubts, how did he pray in light of those doubts and where in the scriptures did he turn during those seasons.  His answer to that part of the question was profound.  I’d encourage you to listen to his answer.  What struck me though was that Piper spoke of calling to mind specific passages of scripture FROM MEMORY to fight the doubts when they came calling.  

What is the primary conflict in the life of every Christian guy living in this world?  We think, as guys, that living the best life means living according to the flesh.  There is so much inside of us and outside of us that draws us into living according to the flesh.  Every sin we ever commit can be traced back to a single temptation to living our lives according to the flesh instead of putting our sin to death by the Spirit.  

Take a minute and try to estimate how many Bibles you have in your house.  The problem is that most of the time when we are fighting the fight of faith and we find ourselves in the midst of the battle, those Bibles are still in our house and we are not.  The Psalmist memorized God’s word because, he wrote, it kept him from sin – (Ps. 119:11 – “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee.”  That was the first verse I ever memorized – in the KJV if you couldn’t tell.  I learned it probably 20 years ago and I can still remember it to this day.)  

Scripture memorization has experienced a revival in me recently.  I challenged myself to memorize Romans 8 a few years ago (I only have 9 verses left).  During this time I have spent a lot of time thinking about Paul’s flow of thought in that great chapter and it has benefited me greatly in living as a Christian guy in this world.  Many times a day I have recited to myself the glorious truth that “there is therefore, now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Having this text memorized has enabled me to battle against my tendency to live according to the flesh.  All of those temptations and sins we face each day are lumped into a single category in Romans 8 – living according to the flesh.  Verse 13 says, “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die.  But if by the Spirit, you put the death the deeds of the body, you will live.”  

The image is that there are two ways of living your life 1) living according to the flesh, which will put you to death or 2) living according to the Spirit, which will put to death the temptation or desire to live according the flesh so that you can truly live.

Living according to the flesh, simply put, is living for something outside of the things of God and so all sin flows from living according to the flesh.  If you are living according to the flesh then, as Paul says, you are setting your mind on the things of the flesh – the essence of sin.  Paul writes in Romans 8:5-6, “Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh and those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  To set the mind on the flesh is death, to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

How do we put to death the temptation to live according to the flesh, the tendency to set our minds on the things of the flesh?  We set our minds on the Spirit.  And what does it mean to set our minds on the things of the Spirit?  

Paul says in Romans 8:13 that we put to death the deeds of the body “by the Spirit.”  It brings the picture to mind of us pulling the sword of the Spirit from its sheath and slaying the dragon that is the life of the flesh.  And the sword of the Spirit is what?  It is the word of God!  So how do we set our minds on the things of the Spirit?  We fill our minds with the thoughts of God.  We fill our minds with God’s word.

If we are going to fight this fight of faith and live as Christian guys in this world, we must hide His word in our hearts (fill our minds with His word) so that we might not sin against Him.  We must be ready to wield the sword of the Spirit – the word of God.  

Brothers, memorize scripture.  There are so many methods out there that help us do this, but let me tell you the way that worked best for me.  Take a blue pen, a green pen, and a red pen.  Then write the verse you want to memorize 5 times with each pen.  Now don’t be ridiculous – you need to do this with as few distractions as possible.  Don’t sit down to watch the ball game and think that this can be done during the commercials.  

Just set a goal for yourself – memorize a verse a week.  Surely at some point during the week you could find time to sit down with three pens to write down a verse 15 times…

You won’t make it in the battle against sin unless, by the Spirit, you are able to put to death the deeds of the body.  And I am pretty sure that all those Bibles in your house will not be so close at hand the next time you come face to face with the temptation to live according to the flesh…so have His word in your heart.

Advertisements

4 comments so far

  1. Simon on

    Agreed

  2. Tom Stanbury on

    Yup, Amen.

  3. Bible Study on

    They who walk after the flesh shall die. However, if we though the flesh mortify the deeds of the body, we shall live according to scripture.

  4. Coleen Schwartz on

    Great spiritual truths. Thank you. This is very valuable lesson.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: