Lent, Part 4: Crucifying the Flesh
We have been looking at what we need to do to prepare for the time that the Bible calls the Passover and that the church calls Good Friday. We have seen that it is not about giving up cookies or cake but about giving up sin and giving up our lives, crucifying the flesh, picking up our cross, and walking in the footsteps of our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). Today we want to look at a question: how do we crucify the flesh?
The Bible tells us in Galatians 5:17 that our flesh is at war with our spirit. Romans 7:14-25 tells us, “For we know that the Torah is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” We find ourselves in this constant battle between doing right and doing wrong. But Paul told us in Romans 6:7, “For he who has died is freed from sin.” So how can this be if I am still doing the things I hate? Romans 8:1 tells us, “Therefore now there is no condemnation for those who are in the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).”
Does this mean that it is okay for me to sin because I am in Messiah? Romans 6:1-2 says, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” Paul makes clear our struggle with sin, and he also makes it clear that we are not to continue in it. Let’s look at some Scriptures that might help direct us in winning this battle that rages in us.
First we see in Romans 8:5-8, “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law (word) of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” We see here that if we continue in following after the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life (1 John 2:15-17) as we saw in our last devotional, then we have not even begun crucifying the flesh, and consequently, we are enemies with God. Does this mean that we are to go live in a cave and not participate in life? No, but what it does mean is that the things of God have to become more important to us than the things of this world. We now live by God’s Word and by God’s will for us rather than for the things of the world. Romans 12:1-2 tells us, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
It is our responsibility to find the will of God for us and then live it out; and the best place to start for this is in the Word of God. Paul tells us in Galatians 5:19 of these deeds of the flesh as being evident: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry (anything that keeps you from God), sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, and carousing. Ephesians 5:1-5 goes on to say, “Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Messiah also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving thanks, for you know with certainty that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Messiah and God.” So Paul tells us in Galatians 5:16, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.”
As we prepare for the season of the crucifixion, let us consider what it’s all about: “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Messiah Yeshua our Lord” (Romans 6:23).