LUSTS OF THE FLESH (Lesson 8) part 1
Throughout the many lessons we've shared together, we've found quite a bit of Biblical information on the subject of walking after the Spirit, and not after the lusts of the flesh. In the following lessons, we will research just what the Bible teaches on this subject:
Let's turn to Gal. 5:13-26 (Amplified Bible):
For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for [d]selfishness], but through love you should serve one another. For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is [e]complied with in the one precept, You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself.(A) But if you bite and devour one another [in partisan strife], be careful that you [and your whole fellowship] are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God). For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do. But if you are guided (led) by the [Holy] Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. Now the doings (practices) of the flesh are clear (obvious): they are immorality, impurity, indecency, Idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies), Envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [[f]that can bring a charge]. 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 [g]we have our life in God, let us go forward [h]walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.] Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited, competitive and challenging and provoking and irritating to one another, envying and being jealous of one another.
To walk in, or follow after the Spirit means to live scripturally, because the Holy Spirit will "always" lead us in "accordance to", and in "agreement with" the Holy Scriptures. As we live scripturally, we will not perform, or end up serving the desires of our carnal nature, which in the Greek means: physical or moral frailties and passons, or ... the entire nature of man, sense and reason (without the Holy Spirit).
Let's take a look at Mark 7:20-23 (Amplified Bible):
And He said, What comes out of a man is what makes a man unclean and renders [him] unhallowed. For from within, [that is] out of the hearts of men, come base and wicked thoughts, sexual immorality, stealing, murder, adultery, Coveting (a greedy desire to have more wealth), dangerous and destructive wickedness, deceit; [i]unrestrained (indecent) conduct; an evil eye (envy), slander (evil speaking, malicious misrepresentation, abusiveness), pride ([j]the sin of an uplifted heart against God and man), foolishness (folly, lack of sense, recklessness, thoughtlessness). All these evil [purposes and desires] come from within, and they make the man unclean and render him unhallowed.
Once again, Gal 5:18 (Amplified Bible);
But if you are guided (led) by the [Holy] Spirit, you are not subject to the Law.
If we serve the flesh (carnal nature), we place ourselves under condemnation, however, if we live in (follow after) the Holy Spirit, we are no longer under, or obligated to the law, thus, we are "free". Free from condemnation (unfavorable sentence, being judged against, damned, or danmatory sentence).
Rom 8:1 (Amplified Bible)
THEREFORE, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.
Notice the word "if"? That one word (if), presents, and/or gives us and "either, or" choice, regarding obedience to God's Word.
Gal 5:19-21 in the KJV describes the meaning of "flesh", like this:
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
We will now take each manifestation of the flesh, and describe, one by one, the actual meanings of each word:
ADULTERY: In the natural, it is to commit unlawful sexual intercourse with someone other than ones own husband or wife. To be unfaithful. Scripturally (spiritually), to commit adultery against God, means to be faithless to God, or ... ungodly
FORNICATION: In the natural, harlotry means prostitution, including adultery and incest ... sexual relationships outside of marriage. Scripturally, fornication means to be given over to idolatry, to the worshp of idols. Remember, Paul proclaims these acts as acts of the flesh, coming from the very heart of man. He doesn't blame the devil. He doesn't call manifestations of the "flesh", demonic acts, but rather, acts of the "flesh". We can never say the devil "makes us sin". We "choose" to sin, by an act of our own will.
Directly from the Greek meaning of "fornication", this list describes further meaning:
1) Illicit (unlawful) sexual intercourse; 1a) Adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals, etc. 1b) Sexual intercourse with close relatives (Lev. 18). 1c) Sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman (Mark 10:11-12). 2) Metaph. - The worship of Idols. 2a) Of the defilement of idolatry, as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols.
UNCLEANNESS: This means to be physically and/or morally "impure". In a moral sense, the impurity of lustful, luxurious, profligat (i.e., recklessly extravagant|) living.
The next 2 scripture verses, according to the Strong's Concordance, are listed under the word "GREEDY". The meaning: a greedy desire to have more: covetousness (Grk #167):
Ephesians 5:3 (Amplified Bible): But immorality (sexual vice) and all impurity [[b]of lustful, rich, wasteful living] or greediness must not even be named among you, as is fitting and proper among saints (God's consecrated people).
Col. 3:5-7 (Amplified Bible): So kill (deaden, [a]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). It is on account of these [very sins] that the [holy] anger of God is ever coming upon the sons of disobedience (those who are obstinately opposed to the divine will), Among whom you also once walked, when you were living in and addicted to [such practices].
Spiritually speaking, we often display such "greed", in an "attention to self" sort of way. Such "greediness", or "impurity" of spirit is to display impure motives that deify "self".
Example: what is our motive for bringing at least 10 people to an Easter play at church? Is it for the correct reason ... because those we've invited, are lost and in need of Jesus, and eternal life, or is it so that we will look good? Is it so we'll be accepted, and not looked upon as a failure (couldn't get anyone to come to the Church play), or, we're perhaps, not looked upon as a "successful Christian", by our leaders, brothers or sisters? Is our motive acceptable by Christ, or is it self centered? Is our motive about "HIM", and about those who need "HIM", or is it about exalting self?
Matt. 23:25-28 (esp verse 27), again in the Amplified Bible, says it best:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
LASCIVIOUSNESS: This is unbridled lust, shamelessness, filthy words, indecent bodily movements (such as in "worldly, sensuous, dancing"), which are "wanton" (excessive or unrestrained) acts of manners.
Taken directly from the Greek meaning of "lasciviousness", this list describes the meaning:
1) Unbridled (uncontrolled) lust, excess, licentiousness (to lack moral discipline or ignoring legal restraint), outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence (insulting in manner or speech; arrogant, rude or disrespectful).
IDOLATRY: The worship of false gods. (Consider our homes, autos, jewelry, furniture, even people, and yes, even excessive self interest, etc.).
Let's take a look at 1 Cor 10:13-14 (Amplified Bible):
For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not [b]adjusted and [c]adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to [d]a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently. Therefore, my dearly beloved, shun (keep clear away from, avoid by flight if need be) any sort of idolatry (of loving or venerating anything more than God).
Also, 1st John 5:21 (Amplified Bible):
Little children, keep yourselves from idols (false gods)--[from anything and everything that would occupy the place in your heart due to God, from any sort of substitute for Him that would take first place in your life]. Amen (so let it be).
From the Greek meaning of Idolatry: Exceeding desire for wealth, as in the worship of mammon (money).
Even "stubbornness" must be avoided in the life of the Christian. Did you know, according to Scriptures, stubbornness "is" idolatry? Let's take a look at:
1st Sam 15:22-23 (Amplified Bible):
Samuel said, Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim (household good luck images). Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.
Stubbornness wants it's own will, and not the will of God.
This concludes Part 1 of this lesson. Soon, Lesson 8 - LUSTS OF THE FLESH - Part 2 will be posted, and will begin with the subject of "Witchcraft". May God's richest blessings be upon you, as you seek to love and serve Him, even greater in your daily life!
Serving Him forever ... Marcia