Jeremiah 8:8-22; Colossians 3:1-11; Psalms 78:40-55; Proverbs 19:6-7
NT: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” (Colossians 3:1-11 NKJV)
In our walk of faith in Christ, when we talk about denying the flesh, we aren’t talking about punishing the flesh and beating it into subjection. Denying the flesh involves putting off our carnal and sinful natures, and putting on the new nature that we have in Christ. The phrase “put off” is translated from the Greek word ‘apekdyomai’, which means to wholly strip off and separate yourself from something. The phrase “put on” is translated from the Greek word ‘endyo’, which means to clothe yourself and completely sink into something.
When we place our faith in the completed work of Christ, our sinful selves are, at that moment, nailed to the cross with Christ and we are given new life and a new heavenly nature in Christ. That is why Paul wrote in Romans 6:11 to “reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The unclean, immoral, evil, covetous, idolatrous people that we were are dead and buried. We need to leave those people in the grave and not try to dig them up and bring them back to life.
Though our sinful selves are dead, our carnal body (at least for now) is still alive. Our carnal body (flesh) still has a bent toward sinful, selfish and lustful behavior. However, Christ has given us His Holy Spirit to fill us and have dominion over the flesh. Our flesh desires the things of this earth, while the Holy Spirit within us desires the things from above – the purposes and priorities of the kingdom of God. In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul described the works of the flesh, which are one in the same with the things of the flesh that Paul listed here. In that chapter, Paul also listed the fruit of being filled with and led by the Holy Spirit. The new man that Paul said to put on is a result of being filled by and led by the Holy Spirit. Denying the flesh is all about stripping ourselves completely and separating ourselves from the influence of our natural bent towards sin and selfishness, while at the same time putting on our new heavenly nature by becoming completely immersed in and filled with the Holy Spirit of Christ. When we choose to keep our minds on heavenly things… when we avail ourselves of the fullness of the Holy Spirit… when we open the channels of God’s life-giving grace into our lives through faith in Christ, we are continually made new in the image of God until all earthly bents – even the bent toward racism – is completely rinsed from our lives.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You have made a way for me be rid of my sinful and carnal nature by being filled with and renewed moment by moment, day by day by the filling of Your Holy Spirit. Just as Paul encouraged me to do, I choose to put off the old me and put on the new me that is created in the image of Christ, that I may walk in all of my heavenly purposes to the glory of God. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.