listen-to-the-spirit2

Starve the Flesh, Feed the Holy Spirit

Victor Nunez Articles 2 Comments

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First thing I would like to clarify is that the Holy Spirit cannot be improved upon. When I say feed the Holy Spirit, I don’t mean it in the sense that we as believers can make it better. I only mean it in the sense that the Holy Spirit dwells inside of us, because our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. (V*1). As such our bodies and our lives hold a special position of sacrifice in the eyes of God. To feed the Holy Spirit we are exposing ourselves to activities such as reading scripture, quiet time with God, prayer, studying Biblical expositions, listening to noteworthy teachers, listening to our pastor speak, bringing glory to God through praise/worship, or simply taking in the words of Christian music in general. All these kinds of activities would nourish us in a spiritual sense, they would give us the ammunition we need to stay on the straight and narrow path that leads to Heaven. (V*2). This is a path that few find, and perhaps even fewer successfully remain on. Occasionally even as men and women of God we need to identify our own personal shortcomings and indiscretions, because none of us are perfect and none of us are exempt from judgment. We often find ourselves having a vast array of strengths and weaknesses. I may have the strength of not finding myself drawn to alcoholism, but I have my weakness in giving in to lust far more than I would like to admit. By the grace of God this hasn’t manifested itself in promiscuity, but any impurity whether it is acted upon or thought through is less than ideal. (V*3).

When we starve our flesh, we aren’t giving in to the patterns of the world. (V*4). We make it a proactive habit to avoid the desires of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Think about how extensive avoiding all these really is. These things are of the world not of God. (V*5). If I take pride in aggressively speeding in my car, and I receive a speeding ticket or worse get involved in an accident because of my decision, I will have suffered a consequence of my foolish vanity. If I take delight in the curvy body that an adulteress is exposing rather than turn my eye the other way, I have allowed myself to be captivated by her eyes and given way to the lust of the eyes. (V*6). If I have gratified my flesh in over-eating or viewing pornographic content, I have opened a foothold for the devil to draw me away in my own sin. (V*7). I have submitted to the temporal desires of the flesh, taken the route of least resistance, lacked faith, and given in to what nourishes the flesh and starves the Holy Spirit. I have risked ostracizing myself from God’s presence for what is nothing more than the momentary, fleeting illusion of satisfaction. The truth is that the desires of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life are all insatiable desires. There is no amount of any of it that can satisfy your soul, your heart, or your being. It will always lead you to a dead end road, paved by regret and built upon the pillars of imprudence, indiscretion, and folly. (V*8)

If we don’t let go of our selfish depravity, if we don’t abstain from evil and cling to what is good, we become more deeply trapped in the realm of the adversary. Only God can draw us out of such a deadly pit. Fearing God helps us to recall that He is sovereign, and that He will deliver us from evil. God finishes what He starts and He has begun a good work in us, so He will bring us through the storm. By fearing God we also recall the consequences of sin in eternal scope, but also in the very quick consequences that can be unwillingly obtained here on earth. If you’ve chosen to find a vice or addiction to run to in order to feel as though you’ve escaped from problems, you’ve found an extra one. As if life didn’t bring enough problems on its own, when we seek false comfort in sin, we’ve now added habitual sin into our list of problems.

Alcoholism can open the door to abuse, verbal or physical, and can impair our judgment. Lust can reduce a man to a loaf of bread by vehicle of drawing him away and enticing him to sin against God’s desires for him. (V*9). He has sinned against himself, against his future or current wife, and against the Lord. He has grieved the Holy Spirit, and will also experience other earthly consequences as a direct byproduct of sin. The blocked blessings that are robbed by compromise, and barriers to communication with God in prayer alone, are two gigantic issues that we open the door to. We may also experience depression, anxiety, apathy, timidity when boldness is desired, irritability, and much more. This isn’t to say that compromise will cause one or all of these in your life. These are additional problems that may come to you if you make this sin a habit in your life. It also robs intimacy from you and your future spouse, this apart from robbing intimacy between you and God, which should be more than enough motivation in itself for us to repent.

Living a life of purity offers us special promises; the first of is seeing God. (V*10). We are promised to be able to see God when we are pure in heart. Only God can make the wicked, corrupt heart of a man pure again. Only God can understand our hearts to their full measure. (V*11 & 12). He weighs our motivations, so we should continually pray that He would purify our hearts. It’s also one of the greatest gifts we can offer to our future spouse. How beautiful to tell our future spouse that by God’s grace we were able to maintain our sexual purity? I will be able to tell her that I didn’t have premarital sex God willing, but I couldn’t tell her that I didn’t have an abundance of struggles in terms of pornography addiction. This is something that I need to conquer, and hopefully by the time I get married it will be a story of the past. A story that she needs to know so that she can help me guard myself in the midst of my weakness, although God may have already delivered me from the sinful behavior. I trust that this is a very real possibility, as although I haven’t overcome it for more than 3-4 months since I was around 12 years of age, I have been winning way more battles. By God’s grace for God’s glory instead of giving in as if it was a daily habit, I win more battles and I know that a full deliverance is a reality that only rests in a matter of time. It’s a certainty that I am trusting God for, and that I need to put my own effort in to as the Holy Spirit leads me to.

In striving for a life of purity, or a life that abstains from sinful behavior in general, one of the greatest assets we have is to starve the flesh. Our society today is plagued by morally questionable content. We’ve got free and almost instant access to all sorts of television shows, documentaries, and movies that share a morally destitute view on all sorts of topics. If we aren’t careful what we allow ourselves to digest, and how we allow our exterior influences to subtly impact our worldview we may allow our values to be eroded upon. The music we listen to also has a significant impact on us. I try to maintain a steady rotation of Christian music, and the secular music I keep tends to involve topics that aren’t what is rampant among pop culture. Often the content will glorify the use of drugs, promiscuity, alcohol, perverse speech, lack of control, violence, and all sorts of undesirable sin.

Why would I want to allow such influence to come right into my car or my living room, when I can enjoy music that brings glory to God? Why would I allow this music to have any space at all in my playlists if I can find music that I enjoy and will have a positive impact on me in my life? Often times the very same music that I can use to praise and worship God directly when I sing along with it. When I learn the lyrics to a pop song, secular rap, or morally bankrupt tune what value do I add when I bring them to ears reach? None. I am actually detracting value from my vicinity because someone could be negatively influenced by it, and I myself am allowing that to permeate my mind. The devil is a liar; the Bible calls him the father of lies. (V*13). He also likely held a position of worship in Heaven that involved music, he knows about human behavior. (V*14). He also knows that one of our areas of susceptibility and a tendency towards higher tolerance of perversity tends to be the realm of music. Have you ever actually sat back and read line by line what some secular lyrics by some household names will say directly? I think if you sit back and just pick a few random songs from the top of the chart you may be surprised.

When I was younger, and perhaps still to this day to some degree, I used to underestimate the power of music. I would think, wow this beat or this song sounds really good. I wouldn’t dig deeper, and often times I wouldn’t know or wouldn’t pay attention to the message that was being advocated by the music. Remember that even when we ourselves aren’t focused on the message, those around us listening to what we listen to will likely be convinced that we have no objections to it. That we are in essence endorsing the materials, even if in our hearts we know the content is morally reprehensible. Better not to have this problem, and question the music right off the bat to avoid causing our brothers and sisters to stumble. No point in allowing the old garbage to be regurgitated, not when we already know that it adds no value and has no substance.

The company we keep also tends to have a bigger influence than we give credit. If we surround ourselves with men and women of God who challenge us to go further in life, strive towards a deeper intimacy with God, and avoid the pitfalls of the world – we will see the direct fruit of it. If we surround ourselves with a close circle of friends who tend to be friends of the world, we will see that we slip in that direction as well. There’s nothing wrong with having friends of divergent views. If they’re influencing you to compromise more than you’re influencing them to consider the Word of God, you need to examine the situation closely. If we lock ourselves up in a capsule, and only spend time with members of our Bible study and Church, we aren’t effectively witnessing to the lost. We are in effect abandoning our responsibility to fulfill the Great Commission. We aren’t bringing the Word to the lost, and we aren’t stepping out of our comfort zone.

There’s a happy balance here, which I believe if we follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, is quite obtainable by God’s grace. God will help us discern what friends we ought to keep close, and what mentors we need to consider the opinions of on a close level. People who have our best interests at heart, ones that may or may not include close family, long-standing friends, or new acquaintances. Often I have noticed that long-standing friendships can have a detrimental impact on Christian walks. We tend to question those influences less, since they’ve been around for such a long time. We cannot choose our family, but we can choose all our friends. It may be challenging to sever ties with people who you’ve known for many years, but often people will grow differently. They may desire a different path than you do. They may not even be in rebellion towards God’s Word, but they simply took a different route with their options in life, and you don’t have much in common with them anymore. It’s okay to part ways if you believe that will free up extra time that you may be able to redeem more effectively for God. Our friends should help build us up not tear us down, they should be bold enough to question us when we make dumb decisions, and set us straight with the truth. We need to be willing to accept their constructive criticism when it is helpful, and distinguish between those friends who just take inappropriate delight in pushing people down. I cannot say that I am the ideal friend, or that I haven’t had moments of indiscretion with this in the past, but I can genuinely say that I aim to be a positive influence to my family, friends, and even strangers whom I don’t know well.

This doesn’t mean I have it all figured out, but it does mean that God helps me to often be a blessing where others would find excuses to complain. Where some people can only find judgment or condemnation, I can often find ways to motivate someone in truth and love. I know that I can only get better at doing this, as God continues to lead me. He will continue to give me the opportunities I need to nourish the Holy Spirit dwelling in my body. He will help me to hate what is evil, cling to what is good, fear Him, and starve all fleshly desire. He will lead me to confess my sin, and He will be faithful and just to cleanse me of all unrighteousness. (V*15). That doesn’t state He will get rid of some of our unrighteousness. It says that He will forgive you and cleanse you of all unrighteousness. Why settle for compromise, when we can thirst for righteousness? (V*16). Why should we remain in a lack of faith, when we can believe without having seen? It may be difficult for many of us to do, but often the hardest things in life are worth doing. They will frequently be those things we diligently work toward, and have potential for eternal value. The things that come easy, or don’t challenge us too much, will in contrast frequently lead to compromise, sin, and death. (V*17).

Biblical References:

 V*1- 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NKJV).

 V*2- 13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because[a] narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV).

 V*3- 27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old,[a] ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[b] 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. Matthew 5:27-29 (NKJV).

 V*4- 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2 (NKJV).

 V*5- 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 1 John 2:16 (NKJV).

 V*6- 20 For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, And be embraced in the arms of a seductress? Proverbs 5:20 (NKJV).

 V*7- 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. James 1:14-15 (NKJV).

 V*8- Hell[a] and Destruction[b] are never full;
So the eyes of man are never satisfied. Proverbs 27:20 (NKJV).

 V*9- 26 For by means of a harlot
 A man is reduced to a crust of bread;
 And an adulteress will prey upon his precious life. Proverbs 6:26 (NKJV).

 V*10- 8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 (NKJV).

 V*11- “The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
 Who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV).

 V*12- Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts. Proverbs 21:2 (NKJV).

 V*13- 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. John 8:44 (NKJV).

V*14- 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; 
Every precious stone was your covering:
 The sardius, topaz, and diamond,
 Beryl, onyx, and jasper,
 Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold.
 The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes
 Was prepared for you on the day you were created. Ezekiel 28:13 (NKJV).

 V*15- 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (NKJV).

 V*16- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    For they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6 (NKJV).

 V*17- 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NKJV).

Comments 2

  1. I was searching for biblical references to prepare for a discussion to lead with the women of my Church during our Wednesday Night session. We each take a turn leading a discussion. The topic I was planning is on “feeding the spirit and starving the flesh”. Reading this has been so helpful. Thank you.

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