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Deal with Flesh

 

Carnality, Deliverance from

The story is told of Handley Page, a pioneer in aviation, who once landed in an isolated area during his travels. Unknown to him, a rat got aboard the plane there. On the next leg of the flight, Page heard the sickening sound of gnawing. Suspecting it was a rodent, his heart began to pound as he visualized the serious damage that could be done to the fragile mechanisms that controlled his plane and the difficulty of repairs because of the lack of skilled labor and materials in the area.

What could he do? He remembered hearing that a rat cannot survive at high altitudes, so he pulled back on the stick. The airplane climbed higher and higher until Page found it difficult to breathe. He listened intently and finally sighed with relief. The gnawing had stopped. When he arrived at his destination, he found the rat lying dead behind the cockpit!

Oftentimes we, God’s children, are plagued by sin that gnaws at our life simply because we are living at too low a spiritual level. To see sin defeated in our lives requires that we move up—away from the world—to a higher level where the things of this world cannot survive. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

LUST

While my wife and I were shopping at a mall kiosk, a shapely young woman in a short, form-fitting dress strolled by. My eyes followed her.

Without looking up from the item she was examining, my wife asked, "Was it worth the trouble you're in?"

Drew Anderson (Tucson, AZ), Reader's Digest.


Mr. Spurgeon once made a parable. He said, "There was once a tyrant who summoned one of his subjects into his presence, and ordered him to make a chain. The poor blacksmith -- that was his occupation -- had to go to work and forge the chain. When it was done, he brought it into the presence of the tyrant, and was ordered to take it away and make it twice the length. He brought it again to the tyrant, and again he was ordered to double it. Back he came when he had obeyed the order, and the tyrant looked at it, and then commanded the servants to bind the man hand and foot with the chain he had made and cast him into prison.

"That is what the devil does with men," Mr. Spurgeon said. "He makes them forge their own chain, and then binds them hand and foot with it, and casts them into outer darkness."

My friends, that is just what drunkards, gamblers, blasphemers -- that is just what every sinner is doing. But thank God, we can tell them of a deliverer. The Son of God has power to break every one of their fetters if they will only come to Him.

Moody's Anecdotes, pp. 48-49.


My wife told me one day that she had just come from a friend's house where one of the children, a little boy, had been cutting something with a knife, and it had slipped upward and put out his eye, and his mother was afraid of his losing the other. Of course, after that my wife was careful that our little boy, two years old, shouldn't get the scissors, or anything by which he could harm himself. But prohibit a child from having any particular thing, and he's sure to have it; so one day our little fellow got hold of the scissors. His sister seeing what he had, and knowing the law, tried to take the scissors from him, but the more she tried the more he clung to them. All at once she remembered that he liked oranges, and that there was one in the next room. Away she went and back she came: "Willie, would you like an orange?"

The scissors were dropped, and he clutched the orange. God sometimes takes away the scissors, but He gives us an orange. Get both your feet into the narrow way; it leads to life and joy; its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace. It is the way of victory, of peace; no gloom there; all light.

Moody's Anecdotes, p. 30.


I've learned that if you give a pig and a boy everything they want, you'll get a good pig and a bad boy. 

Jackson Brown, Jr., Live and Learn and Pass it On.


Thomas Costain's history, The Three Edwards, described the life of Raynald Ill, a fourteenth-century duke in what is now Belgium. Grossly overweight, Raynald was commonly called by his Latin nickname, Crassus, which means "fat."

After a violent quarrel, Raynald's younger brother Edward led a successful revolt against him. Edward captured Raynald but did not kill him. Instead, he built a room around Raynald in the Nieuwkerk castle and promised him he could regain his title and property as soon as he was able to leave the room.

This would not have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of near-normal size, and none was locked or barred. The problem was Raynald's size. To regain his freedom, he needed to lose weight. But Edward knew his older brother, and each day he sent a variety of delicious foods. Instead of dieting his way out of prison, Raynald grew fatter.

When Duke Edward was accused of cruelty, he had a ready answer: "My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills." Raynald stayed in that room for ten years and wasn't released until after Edward died in battle. By then his health was so ruined he died within a year. . . a prisoner of his own appetite.

Dave Wilkenson.


Lust is not the result of an overactive sex drive; it is not a biological phenomenon or the by-product of our glands. If it were, then it could be satisfied with a sexual experience, like a glass of water quenches thirst or a good meal satisfies appetite. But the more we attempt to appease our lust, the more demanding it becomes. There is simply not enough erotica in the world to satisfy lust's insatiable appetite. When we deny our lustful obsessions, we are not repressing a legitimate drive. We are putting to death an aberration. Lust is to the gift of sex what cancer is to a normal cell. Therefore, we deny it, not in order to become sexless saints, but in order to be fully alive to God, which includes the full and uninhibited expression of our sexual being within the God-given context of marriage. 

Richard Exley, quoted in Homemade, Vol. 13, No. 9, September, 1989.


Radio personality Paul Harvey tells the story of how an Eskimo kills a wolf. The account is grisly, yet it offers fresh insight into the consuming, self-destructive nature of sin.

"First, the Eskimo coats his knife blade with animal blood and allows it to freeze. Then he adds another layer of blood, and another, until the blade is completely concealed by frozen blood.

"Next, the hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source of the scent and discovers the bait, he licks it, tasting the fresh frozen blood. He begins to lick faster, more and more vigorously, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare. Feverishly now, harder and harder the wolf licks the blade in the arctic night. So great becomes his craving for blood that the wolf does not notice the razor-sharp sting of the naked blade on his own tongue, nor does he recognize the instant at which his insatiable thirst is being satisfied by his OWN warm blood. His carnivorous appetite just craves more--until the dawn finds him dead in the snow!"

It is a fearful thing that people can be "consumed by their own lusts." Only God's grace keeps us from the wolf's fate.

Chris T. Zwingelberg.

 

FLESH

John Mason Brown was a drama critic and speaker well known for his witty and informative lectures on theatrical topics. One of his first important appearances as a lecturer was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Brown was pleased, but also rather nervous, and his nerves were not helped when he noticed by the light of the slide projector that someone was copying his every gesture. After a time he broke off his lecture and announced with great dignity that if anyone was not enjoying the talk, he was free to leave. Nobody did, and the mimicking continued. It was another 10 minutes before Brown realized that the mimic was his own shadow!

Was Brown's shadow real? Of course. Does a shadow have the power to control a person's actions? Of course not. It can only mimic us. But in Brown's case, his shadow did take control momentarily. Why? Because he allowed himself to be so distracted -- "addicted," if you will - by it that he completely forgot what he was supposed to be about. That's a pretty good description of the sin nature we carry within us as redeemed people. It can cause havoc, even though it has been made powerless by our identification with Christ.

Today in the Word, May 17, 1992.


Commentary

What is meant by "the flesh"? Dr. W.G. Scroggie detected ten shades of meaning used in the Bible. In nine of the ten, there is no ethical or theological content. But the tenth, which is the one Paul mainly employs, does have such significance. The flesh may be defined as "man's fallen anture as under the power of sin." It is the evil principle in man's nature, the traitor within who is in league with the attackers without. The flesh provides the tinder on which the devil's temptations can kindle.

J.O. Sanders, Enjoying Intimacy with God, Moody.


"Paul's meaning is not that the flesh, with its affections and lusts, is no longer present at all with those that have become Christians, but that a walk in the flesh should not any longer exist in the case of Christians. A walk in the Spirit might be rightly expected of believers. This is only possible for those who have crucified the flesh. The word is not slain, but crucified. It is a task of the Christian to be accomplished only by continual effort (Colossians 3:5).

"In 'crucified', however, the simple slaying is not the main idea, but the condemning, giving sentence, surrendering to infamous death. This has necessarily taken place in becoming Christ's. Fellowship with Christ involves a crucifixion of the flesh for the very reason that it is fellowship with Christ's death on the cross.

"Christ indeed has only suffered what people have deserved on account of their sinful flesh. Whoever appropriates to himself Christ's death upon the cross regards the flesh to himself no longer. For him, in Christ's death, the flesh has been crucified."

Daily Walk, May 7, 1992.


What is carnality? According to the Greek dictionary, it means to have the nature and characteristics of the flesh (or more simply, it means "fleshly"). What, then , is the flesh? Sometimes it refers to the whole material part of man (1 Corinthians 15:39; Hebrews 5:7), and based on this meaning, carnal sometimes relates to material things like money (Romans 15:27) or to the opposite of our weapons of spiritual warfare (2 Corinthians 10:4). But the word flesh also has a metaphorical sense when it refers to our disposition to sin and to oppose or omit God in our lives. The flesh is characterized by works that include lusts and passions (Galatians 5:19-24; I John 2:16); it can enslave (Romans 7:25); and in it is nothing good (Romans 7:18). Based on this meaning of the word flesh, to be carnal means to be characterized by things that belong to the unsaved life (Ephesians 2:3). 

Charles Ryrie, So Great Salvation, Victor Books, 1989, pp. 59-60.


The flesh is a built-in law of failure, making it impossible for the natural man to please or serve God. It is a compulsive inner force inherited from man's fall, which expresses itself in general and specific rebellion against God and His righteousness. The flesh can never be reformed or improved. The only hope for escape from the law of the flesh is its total execution and replacement by a new life in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mark Bubeck, The Adversary, Moody Press, p. 28.