128 – THE DESIRE OF THE FLESH 2
What has more power over the actions of men? The mind, through the knowledge of good and evil, or the desire of the flesh, through lust? The apostle Paul, in one sentence, makes it clear that the desire of the flesh has more power over the actions of men than the mind, reason and will. “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” (Rom.7:15). “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish” (Rom.7:18-19). Paul was an Israelite taught by the wise Gamaliel, a great thinker that deeply knew the Scriptures (Acts 22:3; Phil.3:5-6). If the greater of the apostles, one who knew how to choose between good and evil, was able to discern between right and wrong, and so well divided the works of the flesh from the fruit of the Spirit, confesses that the desires of the flesh had such power over his behavior that, wishing to do good, he was not able, and wishing to avoid evil, he was driven against his will to evil, it establishes that the desire of the flesh is stronger than the mind and the will. The power of the desire of the flesh is such that Paul, condemning evil, practiced it. Can anyone practice shameful actions against his own will? That is what Paul is saying in Romans 7. Paul clarifies that this happened because he was carnal and sold under sin (Rom.7:14). The desire of the flesh is the fruit of the flesh, and every carnal man is sold under sin.
The desire of the flesh is independent, therefore, from the mind or the will, for the flesh has a life of its own. This is why every man has two lives: the inner and the outward one, or, the inner man and the outward man (Rom.7:22-23). The inner is the spiritual man, guided by reason, by the intellect, by the understanding. The outward is the animal man, carnal, guided by the senses and by the instincts. This outward man of Paul had the supremacy over the spiritual and interior, therefore he practiced evil even though he disapproved of it (Rom.7:24-25). Paul made this terrible confession, and says that, with his understanding, he served the law of God, but with his flesh, the law of sin.
Poor Christians, spiritual paupers, slaves to the passions of the flesh and of the desires of the flesh, which, even though they are taught, even though they are baptized with the Holy Spirit, even though they buried the old man in baptism, they practice evil by the power of the satanic desires of the flesh.
Let us analyze our fist parents, Adam and Eve. In Gen 2:25 we read that they were both naked and were not ashamed. What was this nakedness? —They did not know good or evil, and were not malicious. They were destitute of knowledge and discernment. They were like innocent children. They were not completely destitute, though. Jehovah blew in them the spirit of the desire of the flesh. InGen.2:7 the breath of the god Jehovah was ill smelling. The Hebrew word for that breath is ill smelling. It is like this in the text: BREATHED INTO HIS NOSTRILS THE BREATH OF LIFE. The word breath is IPAH—ill smelling breath. Ill smelling, because it was the breath of the desire of the flesh. Adam and Eve were clothed with flesh (Job 10:8-11; Gen.2:21-24). The carnal desire of the flesh was breathed in them, and they did not know good or evil, for they were like children. What chance did they have of not falling into sin? None. Adam was created for the fall. The death that we inherited from Adam was planned and foreordained by Jehovah.
It is easy to pervert a child, for it has the desire of the flesh in it, but it does not have understanding and does not discern between good and evil or right from wrong. Children’s actions are guided by their desires and by the desire of the flesh, as they are not mature to reject evil and choose what is good. They must be guided by their parents or tutors in the right way, and preserved from evil until the age of reason. Adam and Eve were like children, and for this reason they were naked, but because they were laden with the desire of the flesh, they were delivered into the hands of the serpent (Satan). We may call this a diabolic plan to destroy man. The poor unwary men fell. They were charged for their disobedience, expelled from the presence of Jehovah and from the Garden of Eden. They were forbidden to touch the tree of life, condemned to cultivate a cursed land in pain and affliction, and condemned to death with all their offspring. The case of Adam and Eve may be compared to a situation in which an unloving father leaves two innocent children in the hands of a depraved criminal, forbids them from eating an appetizing fruit, and do not give them instructions or preserve them from evil until they reach maturity and are able to defend themselves. The children disobey moved by the desire and are condemned to death by their own father, under curses and punishments.
The Garden of Eden was a particular garden of Jehovah and so it was a closed garden (Gen.2:8).Jehovah liked to walk in his garden (Gen.3:8). Jehovah placed Adam in his garden to till and keep it(Gen.2:15). How could Adam keep the garden if he did not discern between good and evil?(Gen.2:15). Adam was the keeper of the garden, and Jehovah was the keeper of Adam, as it is written in Job 7:20-21.
Jehovah allowed Satan, in the form of a serpent, to arouse the desire of the flesh in Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit, suggesting that that fruit would make her and her husband more mature, just like Jehovah. They were both blind and, deceived by the destroyer, ate it and fell in total disgrace. Satan said: “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen.3:5).
Our question is: If the garden was a private property of Jehovah and it was closed to evil, why did Jehovah allow Satan to come in and defile man? The answer is: Because it was Jehovah’s plan and not the serpent’s, for Isaiah said, “Even from eternity I am He; and there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?” (Is.43:13). “For Jehovah of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?” (Is.14:27). After Adam and Eve’s sin, Jehovah punished the serpent, but did not he prevent it from coming into his house, that is, the garden? (Gen.3:14).
That is exactly what Jehovah wished. This was his plan, and it remains until this day. We can be sure of one thing: “…the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boatful pride of life, is not from the Father” (1 John 2:16). If they do not come from the Father, and Adam and Eve had those tree flaws, the Father did not make them like this—Jehovah did: “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food (the lust of the flesh), and that it was a delight to the eyes (the lust of the eyes), and that the tree was desirable to make one wise (the boastful pride of life), she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Gen.3:6).
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira