Tell Your Flesh to Stand Down

I watched an interview of an actress promoting her new movie. She had also recently celebrated her first wedding anniversary with her husband. She talked about how supportive her husband has been of her career, and that its one of the reasons she didn’t hesitate to say ‘yes’ when he asked her to marry him. She is awed by his unwavering commitment to his word. “He’s never been inconsistent about his intentions towards me and our relationship, and he honored my commitment to remain celibate while we were dating.” I was blown away to hear this woman’s admission of celibacy. It’s almost unheard of today, especially in the entertainment world.

They dated for almost a year before he popped the question, and many of us who walk this walk know that it isn’t always easy to be committed to celibacy. This is why the interview struck a chord with me. To be true to a vow of abstinence while also being in a committed relationship, it takes diligence and a determination to honor God above all else. Additionally, both individuals must honor each other. Keeping this vow is a tremendous way to know exactly what kind of person you’re working with. If a person has the ability to remain committed to God’s standards when they are dating you, then there’s a pretty good chance this person will remain committed to the marriage and to you when things get tough.

Keeping it real, there are going to be many occasions where you must tell your flesh to stand down. Standing down is often used in a military setting. It’s when someone goes off duty or withdraws from a position or state of readiness or alert. Well, the flesh is on duty all the time, and it wants what it believes will bring it the most pleasure. Galatians 5:19-21(NLT) lists the desires of the flesh as “sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.The body is the flesh, and it was not created by God to be the leader of our destinies. The body is God’s temple. It houses God’s Spirit; therefore, we must honor our bodies as the place where God lives.

The Apostle Paul said in Galatians 2:20(NLT), “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” We can’t live by the mind of the flesh and live by the Spirit at the same time. One of them will win out and we are the ones to choose the winner. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are commanded to walk in the Spirit and not do what our sinful natures crave. We are able to make the right choice because God has empowered us through Christ to stand strong in the power of His might.

Again, even for Christians, the thought of putting the flesh under subjection is not something that comes easy. I’ve heard many single Christian women make the statement that they don’t think they could ever be successful in remaining celibate during dating. The truth of the matter is that we must always bring everything back to what God says. If you’re not willing to honor what God says from the beginning of your relationship, can you really have faith that it will last? It’s not about what the man will and won’t accept, it’s about whose word you trust the most, the man’s or God’s!

Proverbs 21:2(NLT) tells us, “People may be right in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their heart.” The Lord tells us that He is a Righteous Judge that gives everyone what they deserve. He looks at our hearts to see if His love is living there, or if idolatry is living there. We always think we know what’s best for us. If there’s a significant person in our lives right now, we may even believe he’s the right fit, but only God knows the truth. Only God knows what the absolute best is, and He looks at our hearts to measure our true intentions. He sees if our desire is to partner in marriage as an effort to honor Him or if we’re only interested in hooking up to satisfy our fleshly desires.

I’ve had many conversations with single women that have entertained circumstances designed to interrupt God’s plan for their lives. Even if you aren’t aware or paying attention to what’s going on around you, you should pay close attention to what is going on inside your own heart and mind. Sometimes women are not understanding the thoughts and intentions they hold that get in the way of receiving answers to their prayers. They don’t believe change is necessary, but the answer to whether it is or not can only be found in Christ. We need him to tell us what we should and shouldn’t change.  

Old behaviors, old habit patterns and old ways of thinking keep us from reaching our full potential in the Lord. These things will keep us stagnant, spinning our wheels, and we’ll lose out on God’s blessings if we don’t wake up. Now is the time to seek God through prayer and through studying His Word. This is the way to demonstrate that we’re serious about our commitment to Christ. It is the way to lay out the welcome mat for newness. We should ask the Lord what we need to do differently. We must tell our flesh to stand down so that our spiritual ears are perked up to hear from Him. Then we’ll hear His voice loud and clear. It will give us confidence to know that the man God presents is the treasure we’ve been praying to receive. This man will know in his heart that we are a treasure as well, and there will be no question in his mind that we are well worth the wait. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Tell Your Flesh to Stand Down”, written for Copyright©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

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