Submit To God
Galatians 5:16-26 (Paul speaking)
16This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh 17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
It is evident as you study the Bible that the Christian has more than one enemy. John speaks of three adversaries that plague the believer: the world, the flesh and the devil. We’ve talked about how to overcome the devil by putting on the whole armor of God and taking the sword of Spirit which is the Word of God.
I want to talk about another war. You know the devil attacks the Christian through the spirit realm, but the flesh attacks the man inwardly and the world which is the third enemy attacks us with influences which are around us.
To be victorious in all three of these areas, it is essential that we understand that victory is wrought in a different and distinct manner. Perhaps we have oversimplified the spiritual war and we thought it could be fought without a strategy, but if you study the Bible you’ll find that in order to gain victory over the devil, you have to fight the warfare and resist him. To gain victory over the flesh, you have to learn what it means to walk in the Spirit and to gain victory over the world, you must have faith in Jesus Christ who has already overcome the world.
To say it another way: to be victorious over the devil you have to fight. To be victorious over the flesh you have to flee and to be victorious over the world, you have to forsake its influence by faith. Let’s look at the inner war that goes on within every one of us.
The war between the flesh and the Spirit is stated in Galatians 5:17, above. In order to understand this whole concept, I want to remind you that the word “flesh” is used in the Bible in two distinct ways. For example, the word “flesh” here is used in a good sense. It is used to describe the humanity of man, the human part of us.
John 3:6 (Jesus speaking)
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
It’s talking about the physical union between the man and wife when the word “flesh” is used like this in the New Testament. It is used as a synonym for the body. There is nothing evil about it.
The bodies that we have are the original creation of God. Sometimes the human part of us wants to use this body of ours to fulfill our desires.
That brings us to the “second” use of the word “flesh.” There is another use of the word “flesh” which is in the Bible and in that sense the word flesh is never found in a good light. It is always in an evil sense that the word is used.
The Bible tells us that “man, not just his flesh, but his whole being: his body, his spirit, his inward being…that man apart from God is flesh.” It speaks of the human nature, the earthly nature of man, apart from Divine Influence and therefore, it is a nature that is prone to sin and opposed to God. It is this flesh which frequently debases the body and turns the body in its highest function into the most unspeakable sins.
It is the flesh which provides Satan with the opportunities that he gains. Satan is the “enemy aircraft” and the flesh is the “landing strip” he uses to come in and make his run on the person. He attacks us, thereby using natural humanity to bring temptation to us and he uses the natural, normal humanity which is still in us to gain advantage in our lives. Apart from God, we are in the flesh until we become Christians. Christian means Christ-like. We then, as Christians, have a spiritual nature.
Everyone is born into this world dead toward God and as a person dead toward God, he is “in the flesh.” When you have Christ, you have the Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God residing in you.
What does the Bible say about the flesh?
I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
The Bible tells us that the flesh doesn’t have any strength.
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
Humanity could not live up to The Law. That was why Christ came. He came to bring grace because there wasn’t any man who had enough ability or strength to live up to the high standard of The Law because the flesh is weak. Paul says in
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
Not only is the flesh weak and worthless, but the flesh is waring with God and His Spirit.
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
The flesh is without the ability to please God or produce righteousness in the Christian life.
So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
There is no one in his own merit who can please God, apart from Christ indwelling the believer.
Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
He, Paul, was writing to a church that thought that after having accepted Christ they thought there was something they could do to add to what Christ had already done by going back to the old rites of the Jewish religion.
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
The flesh was wounded mortally when Christ died. Someone might ask the question, “How do you know that you still have the flesh (old nature) within you?” Some believe that when they got saved, the old nature was eradicated. That’s not very realistic, is it?
The Bible mentions the works of the flesh. The first four are sexual sins: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, and lasciviousness. All that has to do with sexual sins.
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
Surprisingly enough, there are some spiritual sins: idolatry and witchcraft. There are self-centered sins: hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envies, murder, drunkenness, reveling and such. They who do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. These are all an expression of the Me Generation. These are of the works of the flesh.
If you want another list to go along with these Scriptures, you’ll find it in
20And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
These are not good qualities. These are evil things that the old flesh produces.
How can we have victory over this? There is victory in Jesus.
And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
The Lord has given us His Plan. This is something we have to do ourselves. We must apply this to our lives because when Christ died, He crucified the flesh. Believe it to be true and let’s apply it to each of our lives. It is the cooperation with our spirit with what happened when Christ died.
It is not an accident that the word “crucifixion” is expressed in Verse 24 when we are told that we are to crucify the flesh. There are three things about crucifixion that we need to recognize and apply. Crucifixion was the most terrible death of the Romans. For us to crucify “the flesh” isn’t easy. It is the sinful flesh that deserves this awful crucifixion.
We don’t want to take it permanently, the crucifixion of our flesh. The Roman crucifixion by death was a slow death but certain. Our crucifixion to the “old nature” is supposed to be permanent. We must not yield, as Christians, when the opportunity presents itself for temptation…to free our old nature from the cross and comply with the temptation that’s at hand. We’re too near our heavenly home to do otherwise! Let’s be determined to live close to the Lord. Christ is coming back. I believe soon.
We should be determined to keep the flesh crucified daily and when we are tempted to draw the nails from the cross where we have crucified the flesh so that when Satan comes knocking and tries to find the landing strip and he wants to come and zero in on your life, the lights are all turned off and the landing strip is gone. How do we get victory? We “crucify” the flesh with all its desires and affections. We walk by means of the Holy Spirit. Scripture states in Galatians 5:18, 16 and 25 (TO READ IN THIS ORDER 5:16, 18 and 25 – above), that we walk in the Spirit. We’re led by the Spirit.
The Bible also tells us about the fruit of the Spirit and if we crucified the flesh, we can then have that fruit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness and faith, meekness, temperance. The Bible is a balanced book. It doesn’t tell us to give up something without telling us what it is going to replace it with. That’s true not only in the flesh but in every area of the battle.
I want to give you one Scripture that will maybe sum up all we’ve studied.
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
The secret to successful living is submitting to God and the devil will flee.