Sunday, October 05, 2014

Lust of the Flesh

Works of Flesh

Ephesians 2:1-10
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”. NKJV

The Bible talks of the Lust of the Flesh. In this sense, self is in the centre and not Christ. Self therefore makes its self assertion as in Isaiah 14:13-14: “For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ ”

Flesh, like the devil, seeks the position of God almighty. This is the situation in every life where flesh reigns. Note the number of “I wills” in these two verses of Scripture alone. Flesh is asserting self.

Not only does flesh assert itself it also exalts itself. The Bible says in Ezekiel 28:2: “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Because your heart is lifted up, And you say, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods, In the midst of the seas,’ Yet you are a man, and not a god, Though you set your heart as the heart of a god”. Is there any wonder why Paul later had to write, as we saw last week, that the flesh fights against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh? Flesh where it is allowed would want to exalt itself to the position of God.

If flesh can exalt and assert itself, it definitely would want us to satisfy its desires and wishes. Let us look at two Old Testament examples of what havoc satisfying the desires of flesh can wreck in a life: 

The Flesh at work:  David and Bathesheba

First let us look at the example of King David and Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah in Second Samuel 11:1-5: “It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house. And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, “I am with child.”

First, David was not where he was supposed to be; then the lust of the eyes led to the lust of the flesh and of course the satisfying of the desires. The result is adultery, and eventual murder and trouble in the home of David.

The Flesh at work:  Samson and Delilah

Another example is the case of Samson and Delilah in Judges 14:1-3: “Now Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines. So he went up and told his father and mother, saying, “I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.” Then his father and mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” And Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she pleases me well.” 

We are all familiar where this “she pleases me well” led Samson a Judge in Israel to. He went to the Devil’s barber shop and lost his eyes and finally his life amongst the Philistines. The flesh drives to chaos and destruction when we give ourselves to satisfy its desires.

The Bible teaches that all glory belongs to God and not man. But flesh seeks self glorification. Jesus told the story of the Pharisee who went to the temple to pray. He probably, like many of us today, was a very active member of the Church, but how did he pray? Let us read it all together from Luke 18:9-14: “Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ’God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’  And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  

In conclusion, we can see that flesh is our greatest enemy in our Christian race – first it is enemy in house and secondly it is very subtle. It is more devastating than the “roaring lion” because we can hear it roar and take precaution. May the Lord teach us to bring our flesh under subjection and mortify it in Christ Jesus!

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