Lust of the flesh

rocks and waterWhat does it mean when the Bible talks about the lust of the flesh?  This seems pretty obvious to most Believers but I wonder just how seriously we take this in our everyday lives.

Galatians 5:16-18 I say then:  Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The word “walk” in Greek is peripateō – From G4012 and G3961; to tread all around, that is, walk at large (especially as proof of ability); figuratively to live, deport oneself, follow (as a companion or votary): – go, be occupied with, walk (about).

Our desire to “walk” in the Spirit is what a Believer should be occupied with, what are the affections of your heart and mind, do you desire the Spirit or your flesh?  When those moments of temptation creep in, how do you handle them?

Today I’m going to introduce a dear brother and friend to this blog.  I’ve wanted to post some of his writing for some time now.  He is an extraordinary thinker.

So welcome Tyler Bolkema to Uncommon Faith.  Recently Tyler wrote an email to some of the brothers in our assembly that have been struggling with the sin of idolatry in tobacco use.  I’m hopeful this will stir in each reader to look at sins they tolerate, we all have them don’t we, what’s yours?

Don’t you know that Christ lives in you?  How can you possibly walk according to the flesh if you are in the Spirit?

Only two options exist.  You are in rebellion, or you are NOT saved.  I trust you won’t fail the test.



God has put each of you on my heart these past few hours. I know each of you have struggled and our somewhat currently struggling with chewing tobacco/nicotine craving. As I have briefly discussed this with each of you and listened to you talk about it, I see how hard it is for you to completely put this out of your life because you so easily want to justify and rationalize this in your life. As I read God’s word, this became clearer to me and I hope that His word will deepen your repentance in this area and grant you a non-swaying opinion of this in your lives. 

Romans 13:11-14 “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” 

Verse 14 really stuck out in my mind, that we would make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts. I thought the Wuest translation was also quite telling: “But clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and stop making provision for the sinful nature with a view to a passionate craving.”

As you think about your chewing tobacco ask yourself one thing, “Is this a desire from God that He has given me to grow in my faith in holiness?” If yes, then I would expect each of you to put a big dip in next time you sit down on the Lord’s Day to prepare to worship God. I think you all see ridiculousness of that. If no, then ask yourself this question, “Is this a passionate craving of my flesh that I continue to want to make provision for?”

If your flesh still desires to make provision for this in your life and still tell yourself that this is not sin, then read further down in Romans.

Romans 14:23 “But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.”

You would all attest that your chewing is not a result of your faith in Jesus Christ, but a habit of your old fleshly man. Again if your flesh desires to disagree here, then you ought to be able to bring this into the church of God and worship Him with it.

Paul is very clear, in this context he is talking about food and those things that are sacrificed to idols. I do not think that the food Paul discusses here is a parallel with your chewing, it is the last sentence that I desire you to meditate on – For whatever is not from faith is sin.

John Calvin explains this passage well,  “The reason for this condemnation is, that every work, however splendid and excellent in appearance, is counted as sin, except it be founded on a right conscience; for God regards not the outward display, but the inward obedience of the heart, by this alone is an estimate made of our works. Besides, how can that be obedience, when any one undertakes what he is not persuaded by is approved by God? Where then such a doubt exists, the individual is justly charged with prevarication; for he proceeds in opposition to the testimony of his, own conscience.”

Brothers, you gave testimony from your own conscience that you ought stop chewing in obedience to Christ, but then the more you continued to rationalize, justify, and make provision for the flesh you allowed your conscience to be seared. You have not cut this craving off as the craving for the immoral woman, but in your mind you continue to “walk by her house”, as Proverbs 6:5-8 warns, on this fleshly craving of yours. 

One of your consciences was so convicted that He had to hide this habit from those closest around Him in order to hang onto it.

I praise God that he is working brokenness over this in some of you, and yet as I talk with each of you, I see your flesh still want to justify, rationalize, and make provision for your fleshly desire. Brothers, let it not be so. Make no provision for your flesh and its lusts, but let us press on in fellowship with one another for the furtherance of the Gospel, that you would lay this off and put it away from you. That you would cut off that old man and live in the light of Christ at all times throughout each day. Please see how this affects your testimony, your wives, your children, and your church body. For the sake of them, cut off the old fleshly man, so the power of Christ might shine in your life.

Each morning I wake up and fight to get on my knees to put to death the Tyler that desires sexual immorality, laziness, and pride. And each morning I war against the desires of my flesh to put them to death. I do not do this perfectly, but by the grace of God I do not justify these things when they manifest in my life.

Use the tools God has given us to deny ourselves and our flesh. Fast until God has dealt true brokenness and repentance in this area of life, seek the Lord in prayer until He has changed your mind, preach the word to your wicked heart that so easily deceives you, and come humbly into the fellowship of God’s people to share and receive God’s grace in your life.

I love you each dearly, please turn from making provision for this fleshly craving and let us go forward together in ministering to the saints. And as you see my flesh rear up and make provision for it, may you help me put it to death with the same warlike attitude that we have done away with the other sin in our lives.

Love you all, 



Jesus wept


The shortest verse in the Bible says “Jesus wept”.  Have you ever wondered why?  Was Jesus showing his humanness and His empathy for the human experience?  This is the common understanding and we know it’s true from scripture. (Hebrews 4:15)

If you are like me you have probably read this verse many times and just thought, “Jesus has compassion for those around Him, especially Martha and Mary because He loved them”.  The Jews that were there thought this also if we look at verse 36.  I agree, He certainly had compassion and loved them, but I believe there is so much more to this verse than most notice.

John 11:14-15 – Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.  And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe, Nevertheless let us go to him.”

Here we see the purpose of Lazarus’s death, also affirmed in verse 4; Jesus says it’s for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.  He did it so the disciples would believe and He would be glorified.

This seems hard for me to believe, yet this is what the Lord says.  We are already well into Christ’s ministry, how is it they don’t believe?

John Calvin commenting – He does not mean that this was the first feeble commencement of faith in them, but that it was a confirmation of faith already begun, though it was still exceedingly small and weak. Yet he indirectly suggests that, if the hand of God had not been openly displayed, they would not have believed.

John 11:21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

John 11:32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Watch what happens next, as I find this fascinating and where I think most people miss the point of this verse.

John 11:33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, (professionals hired to cry at a funeral); He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.

The word groaned here is – embrimaomai (to snort with anger); to have indignation on, that is, (transitively) to blame, (intransitively) to sigh with chagrin, (specifically) to sternly enjoin: – straitly charge, groan, murmur against.

Jesus was also troubled – tarassō – Of uncertain affinity; to stir or agitate (roil water): – trouble.

Jesus was clearly annoyed by the reaction of all of those around Him at the death of Lazarus and seems to be agitated to the point of anger.  He knew He was going to raise Lazarus, so it can’t be that He doubted what would happen.  Then it happens.

Jesus wept. – John 11:35


Why?  Let’s consider a few other verses that might give us some insight.

Matthew 9:36-38 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.  Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

Luke 13:34  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stone those who are sent to her!  How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!

So why did Jesus weep?  He had compassion for sure, but His compassion and his groaning was over the hard heartedness of man that lives in a self-absorbed sin saturated world.  He wanted them to come in faith and repentance, but they refused.  They wouldn’t acknowledge Him as Lord and as their King; despite the irrefutable proofs of His miracles.  It was obvious wasn’t it?

Today we consistently see the same thing.  There is nothing new under the sun, and you can show the un-believer sin and his hatred of God, yet he can’t see it.  I can sometimes intellectually understand my own disbelief, yet I just can’t get out of my funk.

Does the Lord groan in His spirit over you or over me?  Is He troubled by our lack of belief or our compassion for the lost?  Does He groan when we live in willful rebellion to His Word?  I am struck by the depth of this chapter as it relates to me.  It’s easy for me to see the shortcomings of others yet fail to see my own sin.  It’s easy to be critical and see how much they need Jesus, and they do, but I need Jesus.

I need Him more today than the day I was saved because if He didn’t weep for me, I’m lost.  If He pulled His tears back from me I’d spiral into the depths of my own sin in moments.  The closer I draw to Him the bigger and more wretched my sin becomes.

Men have always been ungrateful to God in the same manner, and continue to be so. If he does not grant all our wishes, we immediately launch into complaints: “Since he has been accustomed to aid us hitherto, why does he now forsake and disappoint us?” There is here a twofold disease. First, though we rashly desire what is not expedient for us, yet we wish to subject God to the perverse desires of the flesh. Secondly, we are rude in our demands, and the ardor of impatience hurries us before the time. – John Calvin

How about you?

If you can’t see your sin then I beg you to repent.  Do you truly weep over your sin or are you merely a professional weeper hired to perform a service?

If you are a Believer do you weep and groan over the lost?  How much compassion do you have for those around you that are without a shepherd?

May the Lord be merciful to those who can see their sin!  It cost the One that paid the price dearly and that’s something we should weep about.



Born again?

Sunrise w man B&W

John 3:4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

What a strange thing to be born again, what does this mean?  Jesus tells us we “must” in order to see the kingdom of God but what is He talking about?  We certainly cannot enter the womb a second time so we surely understand this is not a physical rebirth.

Jesus goes onto say, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”  John 3:5-6

Is Jesus telling us without a water baptism one cannot see the kingdom of God?  Many believe this but we know that Jesus welcomed the thief on the cross into the kingdom and he certainly was not baptized nor was he capable of any sort of works.  What does he mean by being born of water?

John Calvin gives a simple answer:

By water, therefore, is meant nothing more than the inward purification and invigoration which is produced by the Holy Spirit. Besides, it is not unusual to employ the word and instead of that is, when the latter clause is intended to explain the former. And the view which I have taken is supported by what follows; for when Christ immediately proceeds to assign the reason why we must be born again, without mentioning the water, he shows that the newness of life which he requires is produced by the Spirit alone; whence it follows, that water must not be separated from the Spirit  Calvin Commentaries 

Jesus affirms the doctrine of human depravity (Romans 3:10-12, Genesis 6:5), as he explains that in the flesh we cannot see the kingdom.  Again, there must be a newness of life (2 Corinthians 5:17), a change that is recognizable to us and to the others around, a newness that produces a difference.

This newness of life is generated or I should say regenerated by God’s Spirit.  The natural man is dead in sins and trespasses, all of humankind is dead from the moment they are born and without God’s work we will die in our corruption, and we are under the power of Satan.  (Ephesians 2:1-2)

Unless the Spirit breathes life into the dead… we will remain dead.

The word Spirit is pneuma a current of air, that is, breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively a spirit, that is, (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, daemon, or (divine) God, Christ’s spirit, the Holy spirit: – ghost, life, spirit (-ual, -ually), mind.

If one is to truly comprehend the magnitude of this miracle it must be understood that God does the work in the heart of sinful man.   Mankind cannot save himself…  Many or I should say “most” will say, what do I need to be saved from, I’m not that bad.  I’m a “good” person.

Unless you’ve been morally perfect your entire life, you are not a good person.  You might be a good person by your standards, or even by the standards of comparison against others in the world, but if you hold your life up to the perfect standard of Christ you are incapable.

Have you ever told a lie?

Have you ever stolen anything?

Have you looked lustfully at another person?

Have you loved God with all your heart soul and mind?

This is the standard by which you will be judged and no man has met this perfect standard.  In order to receive the Spirit you must recognize your need for the Spirit.

James 2:10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

If you’ve broken any of God’s law you are guilty of breaking it all.  This puts you in the same class as the worst villains in all of history.  Do you understand this; is it something you can really believe?

If you can recognize your sin you have an opportunity to be saved, to be born again.  Jesus tells us we must receive the Spirit, but how?  What causes His Spirit to come to us?


Acts 17:30-31 “Truly these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.  He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

Repent is the Greek word: metanoeō – to think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider (morally to feel compunction): – repent.

This is a complete turning from who you were to receive a new life in Christ, recognizing the need for a Savior, calling out to Him, the only One that can save.  To recognize your sin has separated you from God and that separation has you dead spiritually.  There must be a newness of life and a change of direction.

If this is new to you I ask you to consider the words of Christ.  They are the words of life and without them you will not see the kingdom of God.  That’s clear.  Isn’t it?