By Ricky Chelette
“If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” – Romans 8:13-14
Ask media and advertising gurus how many ads you and I see in a day and you will get a plethora of answers ranging from a few hundred to a few thousands. Granted, much of that depends on how much you are on the internet, watch TV and even where you live. But the truth is, we see a ton of messaging insisting that if we use this product or have that experience, we will feel pleasure and find the true happiness we seek. Marketing experts have discovered what sometimes we Christians forget: We all want to feel good and think we are in control. However, if we are honest, we know real happiness is never found in the things around us. Hearses never pull U-hauls. Material things never bring lasting pleasures. Money never makes you happy. Houses never make you feel ultimately secure.
Paul knows that if we live for the pleasures of this world, we are assured destruction. Pleasures only last for a season and they never truly satisfy. Ask the addict or the rich man how much is enough and his answer will always be, “a little more!” The very nature of the flesh is that is has an insatiable appetite. It is never satisfied.
Paul understood that the soul’s real longing is for the eternal — for that which passes understanding and transcends the temporal into the eternal. He believed the words of Jesus in Matt 6:19-21 about treasures, and fully embraced Jesus’ call in Mark 8:34 to “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.”
Scripture is clear that to truly walk as a mature believer, we have to put to death the things of the flesh, “the body,” regardless of how strongly it may scream for satisfaction. I think it is one of the reasons Jesus encouraged fasting (Matt 6:16). Fasting is a discipline that helps us to see that we do not have to obey the things of our flesh, but instead, can purposefully choose to go against our fleshly desires for the purpose of God. We can live counter to our “natural” feelings. Resisting fleshly desires, going against the flow of culture, fixing our heart’s affections on something other the pursuit of the dollar or pleasure, gives indication of where our true treasures lie and who actually holds our deepest affections and ultimate allegiance. Does all this seem impossible? It is. Paul does not advise we simply shelve our feelings or desires. He doesn’t plea for a repression of current feelings and wants. He says we must kill them and we can only do that with the work of the Spirit in our lives. I don’t like that word “kill” and you probably don’t either, but we know that putting to death the longings for temporal pleasures is the only way to truly be free and dependent on Christ.
What pleasures, fantasies, dreams, or desires in your life is Christ calling you to kill? Remember you can’t do this on your own. It takes supernatural power that you don’t posses. It takes utter dependence on Christ. It takes a heart surrendered and consumed with a singular plea, “Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark14:36). Are you willing to kill the desires of the flesh in order to be consumed with your need for Jesus?