Living for Christ is an ongoing process that requires anything that pertains to our carnal nature to be left out completely. We can say that everything that had put us in the extremely unpleasant condition we once had been before God, which ultimately led Christ to come and die for us has to be abandoned completely at any cost. As the Word of God says, we must put to death the old version of ourselves for the sake of living for Jesus.
As the saying goes, the carnal or the natural man has to die. In reality, we can’t live a holy life without mortifying the flesh. We all have inherited a fallen nature, which is constantly putting us at odds with God in a profound way. Our sinful nature has a strong craving for the very things that will bring death upon ourselves.
As humans, we’re more prone to follow our sinful desires than to submit ourselves to God because we have a natural tendency toward evil. This is why God has given us His Spirit to enable us to bring the out of control desires of the flesh under subjection, so that we can submit ourselves to His authority.
The role of the Holy Spirit is to reverse the out of control desires that are being generated constantly by our sinful nature. Therefore, the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives has created a massive conflict because His main mission is based entirely on leading us to a completely different path contrary to our carnal nature.
From a Biblical perspective, the sinful nature we have is quite foolish the way that it operates due to its susceptibility to provoking us into indulging in sinful behaviors that will bring destruction upon our lives. Our sinful nature is nothing more than our instinctive drive in the area of sinful longings.
So it’s of great importance that we seriously consider where our carnal nature wants to take us along with the consequences that will eventually come down the road if we follow it persistently. It’s of no use for us to compromise who we are in Christ by going after things that will steal our joy, peace, security, and hope in God.
The Great Conflict Between The Flesh And The Spirit
With respect to the ongoing inward conflict that exists between the flesh and the Spirit, the Bible is crystal clear about that issue according to (Galatians 5:17; Romans 8:13). Our soul then finds itself between that ongoing battle between both the flesh and the Spirit. Therefore, the choice that we make with our own free will located in our soul determines which one gets to control us.
As believers, the way we choose to live has to be in perfect harmony with the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. The reason is that Christ died, so that we could be set free from sin and inherit eternal life. Our lives should reflect a life that has been set free from sin. Since our sin debt has been paid in full, we cannot keep on living as those who are still in debt.
It all begins with His sacrifice because if our sinful disposition which leads to all types of evil wasn’t a problem in the first place, then there was no point at all for Him to have come and laid down His life for us. By His death, He snatched us from the power of the flesh by which the enemy had long held us captive. Amazingly, something powerful took place during the salvation process which can be explained by this Scripture found in (2 Corinthians 5:17).
God’s ultimate will and purpose for us is for the brand new nature we receive through Christ to supersede our old sinful nature. Our lives have to be run completely by that new nature which enables us to obey God and live a life pleasing to Him. If we find ourselves in such a position in which we’re striving to please and glorify God no matter what it costs, it’s a direct result of that new nature applied to us by the Holy Spirit.
Self-Renunciation is the Basic Foundation of The Christian Life.
Then He said to them all: “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me (Luke 9:23).
Why did we choose to accept Christ as Lord and Savior in the first place? Well, this is a very serious question that has to be answered by every Christian who finds themselves still living their lives according to the flesh. Truthfully, we turned to Christ because our lives were vanity, futile, and unsustainable as a result of sin. Consequently, we were in a state of spiritual death.
We were into such a desperate situation in which there was absolutely nothing at all that we could have done in our own human power and will to reverse that in order to gain God’s loving favor and acceptance. Our human righteousness was as abhorrent as filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6).
Our way of life was totally detestable and unacceptable to God. We were useless to Him as a result of our rebellious nature that was constantly leading us further away from Him along with His ways. Lastly, we were wretched hell bound sinner with no hope.
Our acceptance of Christ truly underlines the fact that there was nothing good about our old ways of life. So we were left with no choice but to acknowledge our hopelessness, wretchedness, and sinfulness due to our initial state by embracing the gift of salvation God has provided us through Christ by grace.
Self-renunciation means that we have to put away everything pertains to our old ways of living such as pride of life, sexual immorality, arrogance, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, envy, greed, drunkenness, and so on by embracing Christ’s life.
We must be willing to relinquish the very sinful things that we used to enjoy. We give up everything and take on everything that comes from Him. As Christ said it, anyone who is unwilling to do that is not worthy to become His disciples (Luke 14:33).
One of the major themes that’s so prevalent in the four Gospel books revolves around the Kingdom of God. Jesus had many marvelous things to say regarding how that Kingdom operates, as well as how people can enter it through the means of parables and other powerful teachings (Matthew 13:11; Mark 1:14-15; Matthew 5:3; Luke 6:20; John 3:3).
When someone accepts Christ, a mind-blowing transition takes place at that very instance. That individual is transitioned from the kingdom of darkness ruled by Satan and his fallen angels to the glorious Kingdom of Light. We willingly choose to follow Christ in order for us to enter God’s Kingdom; thus, we must be willing to submit ourselves fully to the very system that constitutes that Kingdom.
To put it another way, we’re obligated to submit ourselves to the very system and principles by which the Kingdom of God operates. It’s absolutely pointless for us to keep on clinging or going back to the same old things that had long held us back from entering His Kingdom in the first place.
The Flesh Must be Crucified.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24).
Well, as long as we’re living in this physical body we have a long battle that we have to fight continually with our own selves. The problem is that our failure to do so will result it being impossible for us to please God. Our carnal nature is very wicked, sinful, foolish, selfish, deceptive, and rebellious by nature. God has provided us a way through Christ’s death and resurrection by the power of the Holy Spirit to live a life above that sinful nature by bringing it under control.
We’re given a new nature through Christ in order to oppress that old version of ourselves. Remember that our brand new nature can only be as useful and purposeful to the extent we are willing to let the Holy Spirit control every aspect of our lives. Thereby, our job is to starve that old nature by not following its impulses.
Temptation may come with such a ferocity to our flesh, which then causes us to become very vulnerable regarding succumbing, but we should let the fact that we have to live in accordance with the Spirit to become the driving force that holds us back from ever giving in since we don’t have to. Humanly speaking, we’re incapable of doing that due to our fallen nature which predisposes us to indulge in the very things that God already hates. Therefore, we need the Holy Spirit to empower us, so that we can make much of Jesus daily.
Did you know that the Holy Spirit is the One fighting that ongoing battle against our flesh in order to enable us to remain obedient to God? What we should be doing constantly is to submit ourselves, our free will, our desires, and everything to the Holy Spirit; so that He can mold us into the person that God wants us to be. The Holy Spirit is sent by God through Christ with a clear mission; we should allow Him to fulfill what He’s sent to do in our lives.
In short, the old version of ourselves has to lose its initial influence on our lives. In fact, that’s precisely what it means to be Christian. Christ did not save us in order for us to continue to live in the flesh as we used to prior to being saved. By the way, there’s no hope and future for those who’re living their lives in accordance with the sinful desires of the flesh, except corruption and death (Galatians 6:7-8; Romans 8:13). Therefore, we must walk away completely from our old selves and live the victorious, fulfilled, and redeemed life that Jesus’ death and resurrection have made it possible for us to live.