The reason we are to deny the flesh is simply because the flesh can not please God!
Romans 8:5-10-For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit. Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever]. [That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law, indeed it cannot. So then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him. But you are not living the life of the flesh, you are living the life of the Spirit, if the [Holy] Spirit of God [really] dwells within you [directs and controls you]. But if anyone does not possess the [Holy] Spirit of Christ, he is none of His [he does not belong to Christ, is not truly a child of God. But if Christ lives in you, [then although] your [natural] body is dead by reason of sin and guilt, the spirit is alive because of [the] righteousness [that He imputes to you]. (Amp)
God didn’t create us to live the spiritual life with physical strength. When we try to do so, the result is death, opposed to life and peace. The carnal mind stands against God. It can never be trained to perform the way God wants it.
The flesh not only stands against the spirit, it enters into conflict with the spirit. The flesh wars against the spirit.
1 Peter 2:11- Beloved, I implore you as aliens and strangers [in this world] to abstain from the sensual urges (the evil desires, the passions of the flesh, your lower nature) that wage war against the soul. (Amp)
The flesh is an enemy of the spirit. It brings hurt to the soul. The flesh says, “Have a few drinks, it’ll do you good.” When, in reality, it destroys your ability to think clearly. The flesh says, “Get even. Someone needs to put them in their place.” The problem is that bitterness is like cancer, destroying our emotions.
God didn’t intend for us to compete in spiritual battles in the flesh. Our flesh can’t fight the spiritual war.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5- For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons. For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds. [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). (Amp)
(Read Ephesians 6:10-18)
1) The Word of God-
Ephesians 6:17- And take the Helmet of Salvation and the Sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God. (Amp)
2) Prayer of Faith
Ephesians 6:16- Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one]. (Amp)
Psalm 149:6-9- Let the high praises of God be in their throats and a two-edged sword in their hands… (Amp)
4) The Name of Jesus
Mark 16:17-18- And these attesting signs will accompany those who believe: in My Name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages, they will pick up serpents; and [even] if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will get well. (Amp)
5) The Blood of Jesus
Revelation 12:11- And they have overcome (conquered) him by means of the blood of the Lamb and by the utterance of their testimony, for they did not love and cling to life even when faced with death [holding their lives cheap till they had to die for their witnessing]. (Amp)
6) Submitted Life to God
James 4:7- So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you. (Amp)
7) Obedience to God
Deuteronomy 28:1- If you will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His Commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. (Amp)
8) Unity of Believers
1 Corinthians 1:10- But I urge and entreat you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in perfect harmony and full agreement in what you say, and that there be no dissensions or factions or divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in your common understanding and in your opinions and judgments. (Amp)
9) Fullness of the Spirit
Zechariah 4:6- Then he said to me, This [addition of the bowl to the candlestick, causing it to yield a ceaseless supply of oil from the olive trees] is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, saying Not by mighty, nor by power, but by My Spirit [of Whom the oil is a symbol], says the Lord of hosts. (Amp)
There’s more, but I decided to focus on those 9. The Word of God is full of Spiritual Weapons. Read through the Bible and you will find more. Along with promises and so much more!
There are consequences for trying to live in the flesh. There will be both outward (flesh) and inward (spirit) struggles that will often lead to fatigue and ultimate spiritual failure, followed by moral values and addictions. Some people become spiritual drop outs, while others become floaters, moving from one to church to another. Still others will get into a spiritual group that emphasizes fanatical thinking with some opening the door for demonic control. Some people become angry, bitter, depressed, and even suicidal.
These people will often exhibit antisocial behavior. Other people move into deep self-deception. Some pick up drugs, sex, or work addictions to cover their feelings of failure and rejection. Some even withdraw from society because of the fear of failure. Many will wrestle with anxiety.
So how do we overcome the flesh? Since we can’t train the flesh, what are we to do?
1) We are to make NO provision for the flesh.
In other words, don’t set yourself up to sin or to fail. Don’t plan or prepare for it. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you will be tempted to sin.
Romans 13:14- But clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), and make no provision for [indulging] the flesh [put a stop to thinking about he evil cravings of your physical nature] to [gratify its] desires (lusts). (Amp)
When we stop and think about it, we plan most sin. When we sin, it comes from the heart. We mean to do it. We plan it most times. Sometimes we have unknown sin, but most times, we plan it.
Here are some examples, we plan to buy the extra food that we should not eat. We plan to watch the movie that causes us to think bad thoughts. We plan to say thinks to hurt others. We plan to hurt others who have hurt us. An unknown sin is something you don’t know is a sin. For instance, you know that to curse God is a sin., that’s a given. But you may not know that using other foul language is. Or if you’re a new Christian, just coming to the Lord, you don’t know a lot of Scripture, therefore, you don’t know some things are against God. Another example, we plan to buy the extra food that we should not eat. We plan to watch the movie that causes us to think bad thoughts. We plan to say thinks to hurt others. We plan to hurt others who have hurt us.
We must make provision, however, to stay in the spirit. We must plan to stay in the spirit. Tune into the Word of God…not just read it but, get into it. Tune into prayer. Remain in Him.
2) We are to bring the flesh under subjection
This means we are to make the flesh a slave to God. In other words, line up everything with what God says, follow God and not the flesh…have the flesh be subject to God.
We should see that we are either serving God or we are serving the flesh. We can’t serve two masters.
Luke 16:13- No servant is able to serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [riches or anything in which you trust and on which you rely]. (Amp)
We can’t walk down two roads at the same time. We as Believers can’t serve God and man. Our goal is to serve God. We also don’t have to be slaves to sin…God took care of that, all we have to do is stay with God and focus on Him and His will and not our own.
Romans 6:12-16- Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions. Do not continue offering or yielding your bodily members [and faculties] to sin as instruments (tools) of wickedness. But offer and yield yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the dead to [perpetual] life, and your bodily members [and faculties] to God, presenting them as implements of righteousness. For sin shall not [any longer] exert dominion over you, since now you are not under Law [as slaves], but under grace [as subjects of God’s favor and mercy]. What then [are we to conclude]? Shall we sin because we live not under Law but under God’s favor and mercy? Certainly not! Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right standing with God)? (Amp)
The question we need to ask ourselves is:
To whom/what have I made myself a slave to?
We are either a slave to flesh, sin, the devil, or God.
Inside ourselves, a war goes on, between our flesh, mind, will, emotions, and spirit…Here’s an excellent illustration:
Imagine for a moment, there is an executive board meeting. And at this meeting is the Flesh, that says, “I DESIRE such and such.” The Mind (intellect) says, “I THINK such and such.” The Will says, “I WILL do it. I CAN do it. I WILL NOT do it. I just CAN’T do it.” The Emotions say, “I FEEL such and such.” The Spirit is also there. The Spirit says, “You SHOULD do such and such.” Now, the Will is the chairman of the
board. Will can take charge itself, or it can yield to any other party that is there (flesh, mind, emotions or spirit). The Will Should do this! It Shall yield to the Spirit. We Should say, “NOT my will, but THINE (AKA YOURS) be done, Lord!” We should make our will the servant of the will of God and do His work by His power.
3) We are to take off the old man and put on the new
Ephesians 4:22-24- Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion, and be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude]. And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness. (Amp)
Have you ever tried to put on two coats, that are the same size, at the same time? It doesn’t work that well, does it? We must take off the coat of the old man before we put on the coat of the new man in Christ. Because the old and new can’t cooperate with each other. You can’t be a Christian and continue doing sin constantly. You won’t grow in God that way and you will miss out on many of God’s blessings. And if you play around with sin, you can end up getting yourself into trouble and also earn a spot in hell. Point blank, I’m not going to sugarcoat this issue. But if you repent, truly repent from your heart, and turn from sin, God is just and will forgive you. God gives us His Word to help us along this journey of “change”. He provides many Scriptures to help us.
4) We are to deny the flesh
Matthew 16:24-26- Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also]. For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting] For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life [his blessed life in the kingdom of God]? Or what would a man give as an exchange for his [blessed] life [in the kingdom of God]? (Amp)
If we hold on to self, we lose self. The reason secular psychologists have such a booming business is because they try to help people “find” themselves.
Mark 8:34-37- For whoever wants to save his [higher, spiritual, eternal] life, will lose it [the lower, natural, temporal life which is lived only on earth]; and whoever gives up his life [which is lived only on earth] for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it [his higher, spiritual life in the eternal kingdom of God]. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his life [in the eternal kingdom of God]? For what can a man give as an exchange (a compensation, a ransom, in return) for his [blessed] life [in the eternal kingdom of God]? (Amp)
We aren’t to go about trying to find ourselves! First, we are to put self (Flesh) on the shelf. We are to lay it aside. We are to put it behind us. Then, second, we are to take up our cross. This is a picture of dying to self (flesh). Then, third, we are free to follow Jesus and should follow Him. Steps one and two, MUST come before we can ever reach step three! Otherwise there will be war between flesh and spirit.
5) We are to mortify the members of the flesh
Mortify= to humiliate or shame, as by injury to one’s pride of self-respect. To humble, subdue, restrain.
Colossians 3:1-5- If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For (as far as this world is concerned) you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in [the splendor of His] glory. So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin] sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God). (Amp)
We are to focus our attention on what God would have us do and we are to put to death those things that lead to death. LSD- Lust leads to Sin and Sin leads to death.
James 1:15- Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death. (Amp)
Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (KJV)
We are not to let fornication (sex outside of marriage) live in us. We aren’t to allow burning lust o live within us. We aren’t to allow our minds to be turned over to evil thoughts. We aren’t to allow covetousness to remain alive within us.
Romans 8:13- For if you live according to [the dictates of] the flesh, you will surely die. But if through the power of the [Holy] Spirit you are [habitually] putting to death (making extinct, deadening) the [evil] deeds prompted by the body, you shall [really and genuinely] live forever. (Amp)
One way that we put to death the members of the flesh is to focus our attention on what God would have us to do.
6) We are to reckon the flesh crucified
Galatians 5:24-25- And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires. If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit]. (Amp)
When we, as Believers, committed our lives to Jesus, we were spiritually united with Jesus. Therefore, when Jesus died, we died. When Jesus was raised from the death, we were raised from the dead. (Amp)
Romans 6:6-11- We know that our old (unrenewed) self was nailed to the cross with Him in order that [our] body [which is the instrument] of sin might be made ineffective and inactive for evil, that we might no longer be the slaves of sin. For when a man dies, he is freed (loosed, delivered) from [the power of] sin [among men]. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him. Because we know that Christ (the Anointed One), being once raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him. For by the death, He died, He died to sin [ending His relation to it] once for all; and the life that He lives, He is living to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him]. Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus. (Amp)
Galatians 2:20- I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His
crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Amp)
We should know that we have been crucified with Christ-dead to sin. Raised to new life in Him, when we repent and ask Jesus into our lives and turn from life of sin to the life of Christ. We should understand this, acknowledge this, and confess this truth.
7) We are to live an exchanged life
We aren’t to prop up the old man or try to fix the flesh, but we are to exchange our old life for the new life in Christ.
Again, take off the old man, exchange it for the new. The new life is to replace the old life. We can’t serve two masters.
You’ve probably seen pictures or movies of a person who has an angel on one shoulder and a little demon on the other, right? When that person obeys the one, he disobeys the other. We are to obey the Spirit of God so that we will not obey the flesh.
8) We need to understand that we must give up everything to follow Jesus.
This is the condition of being a disciple of Christ. Disciple-follower of Christ.
Luke 14:27- Whoever does not persevere and carry his own cross and come after (follow) Me cannot be My disciple. (Amp)
Luke 14:33- So then, any of you who does not forsake (renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say good-bye to) all that he has cannot be My disciple. (Amp)
Being a disciple (follower) of Christ is more than just being a so called “Christian”. The word disciple means to follow. It also means “disciplined one”. So to be a disciple of Christ, you have to follow Him and learn from Him. How do you learn from Him? By getting to know Him, how he lived, and spending time with Him daily…not just at church, but every day spending time with Him in prayer and in His Word.
There may be many so called “Christians” but very few disciples. There may be carnal (mind) Believers, but few Believers walk in the Spirit. To be a disciple means we must lay down everything that pertains to our lives, to our way of thinking, and to focus on God’s plans for our lives and focusing on Him. Furthermore, we must be willing to do this EVERYDAY, not just on Sundays and Wednesdays. God wants a relationship, not a religion, where you attend church as a ritual or go there to see people. That’s not what church is about. We go to church to encourage and build up. In other words, pray for each other and strengthen one another…not gossip, that is the flesh. The spirit says, “Go to church for ME. Praise ME. Worship ME. Pray for the needs of others…don’t just go to socialize with one another.” If we do this, if we listen to the Spirit and go there to worship God, then we will receive what God has in store for us!