What 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,