Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

So What Does Your Flesh Desire?

Galatians 5:17

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

112015 Ray McDonaldSo what does your flesh desire? Sleep is one of the things my flesh desires. I remember being told I fought taking a nap as a child – how foolish was that of me! Now I long for a 15-20 minute nap each day – even twice a day!

So what does your flesh desire? Food is another thing my flesh desires. At times – it seems – not for fuel but for enjoyment. The old saying goes like this – eat to live don’t live to eat – yet there are times I seem to live to eat. I mean – if I have paid for all you can eat – why stop when you’ve had all you should have I say! Thus I sin when I am a glutton – when I eat more than I should.

So what does your flesh desire? Most of us have desires. Most of us seem to fulfill our desires – at least most of them – if we want – we get. But in today’s passage we are told that the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit. Here is today’s passage in partial context. Galatians 5:13–26 – 13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 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. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

After reading that list of the desires of the flesh – maybe not all desires of the flesh fall under the heading of contrary to the Spirit – but many of them – maybe even most of them – sure do. Jesus said that in order to be His disciple – His follower – we must deny ourselves. Luke 9:23 – Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

We don’t do well – most of us – with denying ourselves. Our whole life seems to be geared around doing stuff we enjoy – stuff we appreciate. Much of life is geared around getting what needs to be done fast so we can spend more time pleasing the desires of the flesh. What was life like when we didn’t have microwaves? Before we had cell phones and other devices? When we had to go out for clean water or had to pump it? I’m not suggesting that these modern appliances are evil – not at all. But they are geared around making life easier – faster – so we can enjoy our lives. I’m not suggesting we aren’t to enjoy our lives either!

When all of life – in the Western world at least – is geared around us and our desires (children learn to say give me or I want or mine faster than most words and phrases) it makes it harder to determine where to draw the line at times. Paul gives us a list of sinful flesh desires – it is not meant to be an all-inclusive list IMHO. He writes – 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 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. Maybe all of the desires of the flesh would fit under these items. I’m not about the list – but rather the heart. Here is a Biblical example of the heart God is seeking – Philippians 2:3 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,

So what does your flesh desire? We should consider this question in light of today’s passage and ask ourselves – is what we desire something that pleases God or draws others closer to Christ? Asking this question might help us determine what acts and desires of the flesh please God and which are contrary to the Holy Spirit.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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May 5, 2016 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , ,

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