Personal Enemy Number 1: Beating Back the Flesh to Live the Christ-like Life

This past week the family and I had the opportunity to take some time off and hit the road.  5 boys, Kate, Wally the dood, and me in an RV for 8 days, across 7 states.  There were so many laughs, amazing memories made, phenomenal sights, and occasionally the odd.  You know, only the things you see on the road!  But one thing was constant, there were numerous opportunities for my arch nemesis to show up and flare up.
There we were, enjoying one another, God’s creation, and having a blast. But personal enemy number 1 always rears his head.  It’s like I can never shake him, so I must always be on the alert.  In the letter to the Church at Philippi, Paul, talks about the inner work of the Christ-like life, and he highlights that we all have the same primary enemy who will keep us in the flesh and thwarting the work of the Holy Spirit.  That enemy has a name: Self, that wicked, sinful, selfish fallen nature that we each possess.  Have you experienced his setbacks?  Just as Christ is making progress, SELF, roars his ugly head to tell us how awesome we are and that we are deserving of better…treatment, praise, respect, time, or money.  That’s when Christ-like humility falls away and Holy Spirit induced obedience to the Word comes to a halt.

It continually blows my mind.  As a Christian, I have the example of Jesus and the Holy Spirit of God to empower me, yet I still cave to the inner selfish desires of the flesh.  Inside you my friend is a rebellious and sinful nature that will do anything in its power to hinder your Christ-likeness.  It will argue, fight, cry, whine, moan, and throw tantrums to persuade you to leave Jesus out of your life and just “Do You”.  Don’t fall for this lie.  Don’t cave to the pressure of your sin nature.  It will leave you imprisoned in a less than life, and less than relationships filled with strife devoid of pure joy.  The Bible says, “Pride comes before the fall, and a haughty spirit before a stumbling.”  Here are two guides that I gleaned from Philippians 2:12-18 that will help you live the Christ-like life as He works out your salvation conforming you in to His image.

1 – Conquer your flesh’s desire to get the glory.

Paul states our goal is to exalt Christ, not us in every situation.  This will be a gargantuan task, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and the transformed mind you can train yourself to live for Him and Him only.  It won’t be a quick transformation.  It will take a gracious Savior extending forgiveness and grace over and over again as He dusts you off after another upset.  But friend, over the long haul, with Christ’s enabling grace, the sin nature called self will be weakened and will begin to lose more battles than it would win in the past.

2 – Overcome your flesh’s desire to take charge.  

The flesh doesn’t like to play second fiddle.  Self wants complete control.  Don’t give in.  This is a battle you can win!  But never forget, the Christ-like life is a marathon not a sprint.  Never forget, that the flesh will never back off, surrender and give up until we die or are raptured out of this world to be with the Lord.  The flesh is our constant enemy until we are conformed into His glory.
If you depend on the flesh, you will never experience the Christ-like life.  You will never experience the lasting joy of the Lord.  You must lean into Jesus and allow Him to work in you through His Spirit.  When you do, you will gain the strength to live like Christ and have calm in the face of chaos, peace in persecution, and joy in all of life’s circumstances.  
Take a few moments and ponder the sinful urges of the flesh.  Where does your enemy strike Be prepared!  Right now ask Christ to give you a plan to stand up against that ultimate bully we call the flesh.
Pastor Chris Williams
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