129 – THE DESIRE OF THE FLESH 3
We have already seen, by definition, that the desire of the flesh is: “A GREAT DESIRE FOR MATERIAL POSSESSIONS OR PLEASURES. SENSUAL APPETITE.” Therefore, the desire of the flesh is the most powerful enemy of the spiritual kingdom that Jesus Christ has revealed. Now, the spiritual life of a Christian is ruled, fed and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, and the apostle Paul declares: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Gal.5:16-17). It is a battle between the flesh and the Holy Spirit that will define eternal life or eternal death. Flesh, inflamed by the desire, seeks, in ways that are irresistible to the human will, the material possessions and their pleasures, or the sensual pleasures of carnal passions. The power of the desire of the flesh is such that the Old Testament affirms to be impossible for men not to sin. “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins” (Eccl.7:20).
The great truth is that sin is an offspring of the desire of the flesh. “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:14-15). The Holy Spirit fights against the flesh to cancel the power of the desire of the flesh, and so to deliver from sin. The desire of the flesh, that is, the desire for goods and material pleasures, and for the sensual appetite, is against the Holy Spirit.
Second, the carnal desires are mortal enemies of the human soul, and so the apostle Peter says:“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul” (1 Pet.2:11). The things that govern the human behavior in this world are: desire for riches and ease, for traveling, for a house at the beach, for good cars, social status, respect, for a circle of friends, for the enjoyment big shows, for the enjoyment of the sensual delights with the loved woman, and for an offspring and the possibility of bringing them up in good schools to occupy good positions in the job market, etc. Both parents and children do not behave as strangers in this world, but as its true citizens, not following Peter’s counsel. Let us look at Paul’s opinion: “Those who have wives should be as though they had none” (1 Cor.7:29). “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction” (1 Tim.6:9). Let us see what James says: “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). And what does the apostle John say? He wrote: “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not of the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).Let us read now what the Lord of lords, Jesus Christ, says. Jesus suggested to a rich young man who kept all the law of Jehovah, hoping by this to inherit the kingdom of God: “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come follow Me” (Matt.19:21). To another man, Jesus said: “No one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions” (Luke 14:33).
Third, the desire of the flesh is against God’s truth. Paul the apostle, who had the revelation of the mystery of the Gospel of grace - “If indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief” Eph.3:2-3), has written to us, saying: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears ticked, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim.4:3-4).
If the desire of the flesh has the power to produce doctrines that are contrary to the truth of God, it is against the truth, against God, and against Christ. Which could be the myths that Paul mentions? They are the genealogies that would prove that they were part of the chosen lineage of Israel (1 Tim.1:4),allegories of the Old Testament, to which the old men were attached (1 Tim.4:7). Paul explains that myths are things of Judaism connected to the law (Titus 1:14). Peter, the prince of the church said:“For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet.1:16). Someone may argue that tales were the apocrypha traditions of the apostate Jews. Let us examine a few tales of the Old Testament. The law of Jehovah and the sacrifices of the law were ordained for the salvation of the Israelites. Jehovah spoke by the mouth of Moses: “So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them” (Lev.18:5). Ezekiel repeats it in chapter 20:11,13,21.
The problem is that Paul says that no one will be justified before God through the Law, therefore the law and the sacrifices were tales or myths artificially composed (Rom.3:20). In Rom.9:30-33, Paul states that Israel, seeking the law of justice, did not attain the law of justice, for it did not seek it by faith, but by the law. The text does not speak of the people, but of the nation of Israel, or the kingdom of Israel; therefore, he is not addressing the righteous or unrighteous men. Speaking of the kingdom, Paul speaks of everything that Jehovah commanded.
Another tale, or myth, was the circumcision. Jehovah considered circumcision as important as the Sabbath. The child who was not circumcised was sacrificed to Jehovah (Gen.17:13-14). To our surprise, Paul says that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any virtue in Christ, but faith (Gal.5:6; 6:15).If it is so, circumcision would only feed a religious pride, therefore, it was a tale. To this day, circumcision is done with therapeutic and sanitary purposes, with no spiritual value. Therefore it is a tale, such as the Sabbath, for according to Jesus the Father goes on working, never resting, for he is God. Jehovah rested, and did so to restore his strength (Ex.31:17). The spirit of Jehovah also weakens (Is.57:16).We read in the book of Judges that Jehovah, the Lord of the Armies, the almighty El Shaddai, needs help, and the ones who do not help him are cursed by him (Judges 5:23).
The big problem that the Christians of Jehovah cannot solve is this: If the desire of the flesh, that is, the carnal and sensual desires and appetites, is against the kingdom of God, if it is against the Holy Spirit, and for this reason battle against them; if it is against the truth of God, why was man created by God with fleshly desires? Before the fall we read that man was made of flesh (Gen.2:21-24), and all flesh has the desire of the flesh (2 Pet.2:10; Gal.5:24; Eph.4:22-24); Col.3:5). Did God create an enemy? Was man created to be in opposition to God, to the Holy Spirit, to Jesus Christ and to the Gospel? Israel, at least, a people created by Jehovah, is opposed to them until today. Christ came to prove that there was an interference of Evil in creation. For this reason he makes a new creation (2 Cor.5:17).
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira