If we’re to have any hope of saying yes to God and no to sin when temptation comes knocking at our door, we’ve got to make our flesh weak (that part of us that wants to please self). Our flesh has to be fed in order to stay strong. When we deny it what it needs to stay strong, we weaken it, making it ineffective when it comes into conflict with our spirit (that part of us that wants to please God).
I recently put some new plants (hydrangeas and hostas) in front of my house to up our curb appeal. At first I watered them every day and they thrived. But as soon as watering started feeling like a chore I stopped, and the plants began to wither. Without the water they needed for life, they shriveled up and (literally) faded away.
If we’ll deny our flesh what it needs to stay strong, it will do the same thing. We can’t eradicate our flesh on this side of eternity, but we can keep it shriveled up and weak. The Bible says the best way to accomplish this is through fasting. Fasting is God’s antidote to the disease referred to in Scripture as “the lust of the flesh” (1 John 2:15-17). Fasting is when we deny ourselves food and instead feast on God (i.e. spend time reading our Bibles and praying). When we fast we build our resisting muscles and weaken our flesh. If we can say no to food, we can say no to sin.
We should always be looking to practice denying our flesh what it wants. This way it doesn’t get used to getting what it wants. For example:
- If your flesh wants to sleep in, don’t put your alarm on your nightstand where you can easily hit snooze. Put it across the room so you have to get up.
- If your flesh wants to misuse the internet, get some accountability software like Covenant Eyes. This will give you the motivated needed to pass on temptation.
- If your flesh wants to speed, use cruise control to limit how fast you travel.
- If your flesh wants to snack on chips at night, stop buy chips to put in the pantry. When they are in your home they will eventually get in your body.
Anytime you deny your flesh what it wants you weaken it. So always be looking for opportunities. As you do the influence of your flesh will affect you less and less. You will always be tempted to sin, you just won’t give in to the temptations as often.