For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13 KJV)
Why bother about the flesh? It is our number one enemy! Furthermore, it is humanity’s “gift” to the devil to ruin our lives, destroy God’s purposes and cause ongoing pain, suffering, frustrations, disappointments, and disillusionment in spiritual matters. As believers, we do ourselves a favor by putting to death or mortifying the flesh.
The flesh was crucified and needs to be crucified daily. When we received Christ, the old man was crucified with his passions and lusts. Paul said, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24 KJV). The old man is already dead, and we must believe it. But Paul goes on to say we should put to death the deeds of the flesh as in Rom. 8:13. As long as we continue to live in this fallen body, we must crucify the flesh every day—continue to say no to its carnal tendencies and sinful desires.
But how do you kill the flesh? How do you end a life controlled by bodily and mental lusts or inclinations? In Rom. 8:13 above, Paul gives us the secret to mortifying the flesh: we put to death the works of the flesh by the Holy Spirit.
We cannot surrender to God or overcome the flesh by our efforts. Subduing the flesh requires more than a sincere heart or mere human determination. My experience, the wisdom of the Spirit in me, and my ministry to other believers have taught me this well-established biblical lesson—the Christian life is not by human might, power, sincerity, determination, strong will, etc. We must recognize how evil our human hearts can be without the Spirit of God (Jeremiah 17:9). If God takes His Spirit from our hearts, even the most sincere of us might do things that would stupefy us. We need God’s help, and plenty of it, every day.
The only way to kill the flesh is by the Holy Spirit. Practically, mortifying the flesh by the Spirit means putting yourself in a situation where the Spirit has access to take over your life. There are many forms this yielding to the Spirit can take, but I will mention two critical steps here. The first is waiting in God’s presence in prayer and in the Word, where we give the Spirit a unique opportunity with us alone to deal with the flesh. The second step, related to the first, is following the leading of the Spirit in our daily lives. Nothing will break anger, greed, lust, fear, stubbornness, and pride in our lives as the laying of our hearts before the Lord and waiting for the River of His Spirit to break the stony ground.
In conclusion, the Holy Spirit is our only hope to put to death the flesh. And if we do not kill the flesh, we can be sure it will surprise us.
What does it mean to put to death the flesh? How does your devotional life or time with God serve as a daily foundation for crucifying the flesh?
Apply the Word
Dying to self is a prerequisite to seeing God’s glory. Crucifying the flesh is not as complicated as it sounds. Just yield to the Spirit, and He will take care of it. Don’t attempt to resist the flesh yourself, else, it will disgrace or humiliate you. Allow the Spirit to enable you—every day.
Ask the Father to help you allow His Spirit to mortify the flesh.