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The War Of Flesh

Galatians 5:19-21
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (NIVUK)

In these verses, our ‘flesh’ is not the skin and muscle of our bodies, but the inner desire to please ourselves. That self-pleasure does not accept the authority of God over us or consider any responsibility to other people. So when we allow our ‘flesh’ to take control of our minds and body, our actions will display no regard for anybody else. Indeed, we will show that we are at war with God and other people.
Paul lists sexual sins, occult activity, angry reactions, social divisiveness, and uncontrolled behaviour including drunkenness. All of these would have been seen in the 1st century; and nothing has changed – they are still common today. Of course, many people who had received Christ would have been those who practised such fleshly behaviour previously. But now they professed to believe in Jesus Christ, they had to change. Paul repeated his warning that unchanged behaviour meant that they had unchanged hearts: how could people who loved God also love what He hates?
The Christian life starts with a change of heart. As people welcome the gospel message, they receive Christ and His transforming power. Titus 2:11-12 says, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age …” In other words, if there is no change of lifestyle there is no evidence of a changed heart. That is a spiritually dangerous place because God will not welcome those who love what He hates, and refuse to submit to Him. So let us examine our lives and see how they reflect our hearts; then let us ask the Lord for the courage to repent and the grace to obey.

Father God. Thank You for changing my heart since I have trusted in Jesus Christ, giving me the desire to please You and reject a fleshly way of life. However I am sad and sorry for those times when I have made wrong choices and allowed my fleshly nature to take control. Thank You for the Apostle’s warning that I must not keep living in a way which displeases You; and help me to allow Your Holy Spirit to be in command of my heart, to motivate me into a lifestyle which pleases You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams