Overcoming the Flesh

Our second battlefield is the flesh. This topic is perhaps one of the least taught in religious circles, perhaps with good reason. The flesh is our greatest enemy because it has been our greatest friend, lover and provider. Flesh makes us feel good, is there when we need it, is comforting and creates for us a reality we don’t have to change for. It is anything and everything we need or want it to be. It is through the flesh that we control others to get our needs met. It has worked in the past, and it is the greatest enemy to dependence on God.

So God hates our flesh. It is the only thing that has power and authority to keep us from the healing and relationship with Him that He wants us to experience.

God has set His strategies and purposes in motion to expose our flesh, for it is only by its exposure that we can see it for the nasty stuff it is. Then, through agreeing with God, that it is not who we are, and we don’t want it any more, its power over our lives is broken, and healing can take place.

What is Flesh?

First, flesh has nothing to do with the body we live in. There is nothing sinful, dirty or offensive about our bodies, though it or some of its aspects are often represented as sinful, dirty and offensive, especially when we force it to do what it was not meant to do—meet the needs of our soul.

Flesh is our soul getting its needs met without God through Control.

When God first created man, their need for love, acceptance and honor were met directly and completely by God. When Adam and Eve sinned, their spirits died, and they were no longer able to receive life directly from The Source. So they did the best they could and got their needs met from the resources that were available: their own souls, their bodies, their environment and each other. These were things they either had control over, or could try to get control over. Their goal was to get their needs met their way because that had become their only option.

Time for a Quick Refresher Course:

The soul is different than the spirit and can be described as consisting of the mind, will and emotions, or our thinker, our decider and our feeler. Each of us is uniquely created according to these attributes, so we don’t need to get too specific as to how they work together or define each function. God created our soul as a good thing, and gave each of us the exact soul and temperament that He wanted us to have. Remember, too, that our soul is something that is a part of us, but is not us.

Me, My Self and I

I (Spirit) Who you truly are is spirit; you are a spirit being. If you are a believer, God’s Spirit has regenerated your spirit, and you are now like Him in every way in your spirit, since like begets like. If you are not a believer, your spirit has not been regenerated by God’s Spirit, and you are still like the first Adam, dead in spirit. There are only two kinds of people in this world: Alive spirit beings or dead human beings!

My Self (Soul) Each of us has a soul consisting of mind, will and emotions. Each of our souls is unique. Unless we know our true identity, we often mistake our soulical characteristics as the determinant of who and what we are. God does not value us depending upon our soulical attributes, but because we are now spiritual beings, one with Him, and receive His life and love.

Me (Body) Each of us has a body consisting of a brain, heart, senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, feel, conscience) and physical organs. The brain is not the mind, and our natural feelings (pain, fatigue, cold) are not our emotions. Especially in our Western culture we are often judged, and often judge others, by appearance or what is contained in the body (strength, beauty, intellect, athletic ability, passion, etc.).

Part of God’s healing process is to help us distinguish and recognize the difference between Me, My Self and I, so that we can more and more live as I, our true spirit nature, and allow our selves and our bodies to be brought into alignment and wholeness according to His timetable.

Am I Just Being Temperamental?

Again, the three main elements to the soul are the mind, will and emotions. Every one of us has all of these, but each of us has a unique combination or amount of each. Some have a stronger mind, stronger emotions, or are stronger-willed. The combination of these strengths, and of course their correlating weaknesses, make up each person’s unique temperament. Where did this temperament come from? Genetically, we received our physical attributes from our parents, but our mind, will and emotions are not part of our genetics. Our soul, and the temperament that describes its make-up, is given to each of us by God from our very beginning.

This temperament determines a great deal about us, but it is not us. Our greatest errors, which keep us trapped in our woundedness, are our mistaken beliefs about who and what we are. Before we were born again as living spiritual beings, the only parts of us that functioned were our body and our soul. Of these two, our soul has the greatest ability to maintain a form of life on its own (without the spirit). Our temperament make-up determines how we suck the life out of our environment and those around us in order to get our needs met and gain and maintain control. Our flesh is formed accordingly. Those parts of our temperament that are the most successful at getting our needs met will be the foundation of our flesh patterns.

Over time this seems to have caused the greatest confusion in both the church and among unbelievers. Confusing the flesh with the temperament can be at least as misleading as confusing the spirit with the soul. Incorrect and unhelpful conclusions will be drawn which not only don’t address the problem but also will likely strengthen the flesh.

The solution is to distinguish between an individual’s temperament, which God gave and with which He is pleased, and the flesh, which He hates, and which separates us from Him and His healing for us, and our wholeness. Flesh is His enemy, and therefore ours as well. We will go into specifics later in this chapter to give some direction as to how to identify both the temperaments and the flesh.

Where’s the Flesh?

Neither the soul nor the body has a life of its own, but were created to get their God-given needs met via the spirit, which was one with God the Spirit. At the separation, Spirit life was no longer available. The body and soul (Me and My Self,) started looking elsewhere for what was needed. All the things that God provided—protection, direction, confidence, nurturance, encouragement, significance, support—had to be located and appropriated another way. This other way is flesh.

Another term for the flesh is self-life, because everything about the flesh is self-ish. “How am I doing?” or “How can I stop from feeling bad about myself?” The needs of the flesh are paramount, and will not rest until gratified. The elements of our self-life are our mind (what we think); our will (what motivates us); and our emotions (how we feel).

Flesh is something that is “about” you but is not “of” you. Picture the Titanic on the bottom of the ocean. At first, she was the unsinkable pleasure liner, sunk. As time passed, the ocean floor engulfed her, sea life taking advantage of her nooks and hallways to raise their young, the silt slowly banking her split sides. She’s still the Titanic. No longer what she was meant to be, but Titanic none-the-less. So that when a remote camera slowly panned her deck, she was recognizable to the trained eye as the lost vessel of lore. She was found. But not changed.

For you and I, our soul too has been at the mercy of our environment, inside and out. And how your ship was put together, whether a luxury liner, tugboat or canoe, without our Captain our vessel sits at the bottom of the sea. We have adjusted our lives to the barnacles, silt and sea creatures. Who we truly are—a luxury liner, canoe or tugboat, may or may not be recognizable by observers. But one thing is certain, we’re not living out what we were meant to be.

The flesh is like a layer of barnacles encasing your soul inside and out, forming according to your true self structure, mimicking but not you.

Why not just scrape off the barnacles, so we look and behave better? Because the barnacles, the flesh, just grows back. We need to be changed, lifted up to again ride the waves by and with our Captain.

Jesus and Flesh

Jesus never developed flesh, so we are unable to review His life to see how He overcame it. We can, however learn from His example how to prevent it, and in effect learn how to overcome by applying that same pattern.

Because He lived His life in dependence on His Father, we also cannot determine what temperament Jesus was on this earth. Likewise, as we become healed and live in dependence, we are free from living according to our temperament, and will be more and more a reflection of the life of our Father and not our own temperament.)

Jesus was in all ways tempted to get His needs met through His own efforts just as we are. He was wounded, rejected and persecuted just as we are. But He didn’t try to handle these things Himself, through the strength of His own mind, will or emotions, but instead took both His wounds and His needs to His Father. He never needed to develop coping mechanisms or soulical tactics by which to control His circumstances, even though He could have. Jesus instead relied on His Father, our Father, to provide everything He needed to be healed and have His needs met. This made Him impervious to not only the flesh, but the world system and the tactics of the devil as well.

How do you spell “flesh”?

C-O-N-T-R-O-L

Goals of the Flesh

There are two main goals of the flesh; to get our needs met (Needy Flesh) and to keep our selves from getting hurt (Protection Flesh). We can therefore categorize flesh by what function it serves, or how control is manifested in our actions.

Needy Flesh (Getting life)

This aspect of the flesh seeks to control all surrounding circumstances, including other’s lives, in order to have them available if necessary in order to meet our needs. We all have flesh, so we all express, to varying degrees, Needy Flesh.

Protection Flesh (Preventing hurts)

Protection flesh seeks to control by keeping a safe distance from all surrounding circumstances, including others’ lives, in order to prevent being wounded or rejected. This aspect of the flesh is ever vigilant for any threat to its tenuous control.

Since we all have both aspects of the flesh, we can understand the stress that arises in our lives when we don’t understand the battle raging within. On the one hand, we want to be able to keep control over our environment so that it’s close enough and agreeable enough to give us what we want when we want it. But at the same time, we are fearful of its power to reject and hurt us, or to keep us from getting what we demand.

Here are some of the ways these aspects of the flesh will manifest themselves in our lives.

A primary goal of the flesh is to keep God from controlling or getting too close to us. Most of us have a very poor concept of who God is and how He wants to relate to us. Because we often equate Him with those who have natural authority over us, and have rejected and wounded us in the past, we often behave toward Him in ways that keep us from being wounded again. For instance, we will use smothering control by trying to deserve His blessings and favor; believing that if we are good enough, serve Him well enough, treat those He favors well enough, some of that will earn us His love, acceptance and honor. We use rejecting control by keeping Him at arms length, by not acknowledging our weaknesses or wounds, how we really feel or what we really think. Somehow we think that honesty will garner His displeasure; we may subconsciously (or not so subconsciously) reject Him before He has a chance to reject us (punish us for disobedience, ignore us, etc.). What is often fascinating and confusing is that both of these can be going on at the same time.

Another important goal of the flesh is to keep us from being overwhelmed by circumstances. Because the main goals of the flesh are to gain and maintain control, the flesh is ever vigilant regarding our circumstances, both inwardly and outwardly. Flesh feels good, even when it feels bad, because at least we feel like we’re in control. Smothering control of circumstances will be manifested in our attention to future events, everyday details, and both minor and major decisions. This distraction can turn into obsession and result in being consumed with the cares of this life. Conversely, rejecting control of our circumstances is demonstrated by someone with the attitude of not being at all affected by their environment. Even when they need to make decisions or deal with a situation they leave it for someone else or take the first choice offered to them, often to their later regret. This isn’t to say that there are no overwhelming circumstances. There certainly are times in most people’s lives where any semblance of control is taken out of their hands.

The third goal of the flesh is to protect myself from others—to be sure I control others rather than allowing them to control me. Since none of us have experienced true grace growing up, we expect those around us—family, friends and strangers alike—to in some way expect something from us. For most of us even acting out of love is tinged with manipulation of one kind or another. We control others through smothering them with our needs, our demands, our expectations, hoping that the love we so desperately desire can be kept available if only we can control the one(s) who meets our needs. At the same time we fear their rejection, so we push them away even as we draw them close. This is one reason many Christians are just as bad at relationships as non-believers are: If we don’t know how to recognize and deal with the flesh, our relationships are based on and ruled by the flesh.

The fourth goal of the flesh is to keep our emotions suppressed. Many of us neither know how to recognize, control or value our emotions in a healthy way, so even as we are refusing to express our emotions we are being controlled by them. For many the expression of emotions is tied deeply to outward circumstances, such as age, gender, circumstance, opportunity. When we think of a loving mother we often picture the stereotype of the embracing woman lavishing hugs and kisses with abandon. But this expression can also simply be a way of getting her needs met, as the recipient learns to accept the emotional expression as well. Yet for many, the worst thing that could happen in their lives is to cry (either for pain or joy), somehow believing that such an expression makes them vulnerable or weak. So they both smother their own emotions and insist on those around them smothering theirs as well. Our flesh wants to keep us from being controlled by emotions or letting them be out of control.

Here are just a few methods the flesh will use to gain and maintain control in the above areas: Critical attitude, body language, silent treatment, sarcasm, seductive behavior, passivity, blackmail and intimidation, favoritism (giving acceptance at a price), politics (what party/denomination/gifting are you?), hostile behavior (by anger), manipulation; religion (control through guilt or fear) and over-protection (or over-permissiveness).

Symptoms of Living Out of the Flesh

How can you tell if you or someone you know is living out of the flesh instead of walking by the spirit? It’s easy and it’s hard, depending on, you guessed it, how much control they have or perceive to have at a given moment. When you think of someone who’s out of control, what’s the common term we use today? STRESS! So it will be easiest to determine a person’s flesh patterns when they are under stress (including our own).

Here are some give-aways that someone is habitually living out of the flesh and consistently missing God’s opportunities to break its hold over their life:

    • They don’t learn from their past mistakes. There will often be a cycle of bad decisions with poor results repeated over time. Everyone else sees this but the person repeating their mistakes, and rare is the friend bold enough to point out the error of living out of the flesh.

 

    • They are crisis-driven, seemingly living from one stressful situation to another. If there was ever a quiet time in their life, it’s lived in anticipation of the other shoe dropping.

 

    • They use whatever means available to gain and maintain control over others, themselves or their circumstances. Their bookshelves are lined with self-help books, financial seminar materials, and exercise videos, discarded after brief use because they didn’t solve the problem or fill the present void.

 

    • They never seem to grow up, but seem to live their life on the fringes.

 

    • Their needs are met vicariously through others, through fantasies, books, television, movies or countless hours on the internet.

 

    • They have a hard time making decisions, and/or change their minds soon after making one.

 

    • They live their lives as victims, of their past, of other’s decisions, or of their own shortcomings.

 

    • Their life is out of balance as far as time, energy or money is concerned.

 

    • They have a hard time relying on God to meet their needs.

 

    • They try to control God, often by either staying out of His reach (not drawing attention to themselves) or by making sure they are doing and/or believing the right thing so God will be pleased with them.

 

    • They have a hard time resting without guilt.

 

    • They blame others or God or the devil for their mistakes.

 

    • They can’t forgive themselves or others.

 

It’s said that if we don’t learn from history we are doomed to repeat it. Well, that’s only partially true—we do all learn from our history, we just may not learn the right lessons. We must take the time to objectively review our history, then apply changes to our lives so we don’t repeat it.

Each temperament will exhibit different symptoms. Basically, anytime a person is unwilling to change, unwilling to give up control, they are living out of the flesh. In other words, we are all living out of our flesh to some degree. Some will remain at the mercy of their flesh, but it is our goal to bring this issue to the attention of believers so we can all cooperate with the freeing process God has paid such a high price to obtain and give.

Eventual Results of Living Out of the Flesh

Living out of the flesh is not a healthy way of life, either for our soul or for our body. Like trying to get blood out of a stone, just trying harder will not meet our needs outside of the spirit. So over time (both on a personal and generational level) continuing to strive to gain and maintain control will wear out the resources we have available. Here are some of the results of trying to live our life “our way”:

1. SOULICAL/SUPERNATURAL PROBLEMS

If our soul was in perfect alignment with our new spiritual nature, the strengths and weaknesses of our individual temperament would be under the control of our spirit, and therefore would neither hinder nor augment our relationship with God, with others, or with how we view ourselves. But because that is not yet reality, and our soul is greatly influenced by our flesh, those relationships are also greatly influenced and out-of-balance.

Our flesh is most easily identified when we are under stress as evidenced by the problems that arise in the three parts of our soul:

Problems of the mind

Confusion

Short attention span

Forgetfulness

Recall/Memory problems

Trouble with numbers

Mental disorders

Trouble remembering names, dates, events

Thoughts out of control

Problems of the will

Impulsive (feel like something inside of you is forcing you to do, feel or choose a certain way)

Compulsive (feel like something outside of you is forcing you to do, feel or choose a certain way)

Rebellious toward authority (challenge to control)

Submissive toward authority (apathy)

Hitting/Fighting (being physically out of control)

Problems of the emotions

Uncontrolled Anger

Depression

Mood swings

Stuffing emotions

Jealousy

Road (and other) Rage

At the mercy of your emotions

Emotions out of control

When the stress levels in the mind, will and emotions get to be too much or last for an extended period of time, the body is also affected.

2. PHYSICAL/NATURAL PROBLEMS

Migraines

Depression

Poor sleeping habits

Weight gain

Weight loss

Obsession with weight or appearance

Ulcers

Lack of attention to one’s health

Poor nutrition

Lack of exercise

Lack of attention to one’s life

Inability to be still or be active

Lack of energy/overactive

Panic/anxiety attacks

Learning disorders

Eating disorders

Clumsiness/accident-prone

Under achievement

Over achievement

Any kind of addiction or compulsion

Allergies

PMS

Though there may be other natural explanations for the above as well, we want to recognize that flesh, and the wound (misbelief) that causes the flesh, needs to be considered when looking to deal with the stress.

3. WALKING AFTER THE FLESH MAKES US VULNERABLE ON THE OTHER TWO BATTLEFIELDS AS WELL.

Walking according to the flesh makes us vulnerable to demonic attack. This is true for at least two reasons:

First, because flesh infringes on the communication between our soul and our spirit (and therefore God as well), we are hindered from receiving direction and warning concerning the plans of the enemy toward us or what concerns us. Often we are not aware of the enemy’s attacks until after they’ve done damage. However, as we become healed from our wounds, and our flesh interferes with hearing from God to a lesser and lesser extent, we eventually are able to discern the enemy’s attacks, either directly because we have learned our vulnerabilities and our senses have been tuned, or through receiving warning or an alert from headquarters. God has His own terror alert system, but we need to recognize how He communicates it to us, and then what to do about it.

Second, when we are walking in the flesh we are more vulnerable to demonic attack because the enemy has a legal right to feed off death and decay. Remember that flesh is an indication of a wound, or somewhere you are believing a lie about God, yourself or others, about your needs not being met. So flesh is where the enemy can get his hooks into us, with God’s permission!

We must learn to recognize the attacks of the enemy, because his legal attacks (those that God has given Him permission to launch) indicate an area in us which needs to be healed. So in a sense we can thank God that He has left the devil here to expose our wounds so we can get them healed!

Also, please remember that the enemy may also have received permission to attack us so that we can learn a new dependence skill in defeating him.

Walking according to the flesh makes us vulnerable to manipulation by the world system.

Because we are looking to our environment and to others to meet our needs or as a threat, we will be more sensitive to the expectations and demands of others. The more we are living according to the flesh, the more we will take on the standards and values of the world system. So as we learn to depend on God, we will recognize the flesh when His standards come into conflict with the standards and values the world system has set.

Unfortunately, the world system has found a friend in the religious system (this has always been true, as many of Paul’s letters attest). Some of these standards will be evidenced by how much we let those in religious circles manipulate, shame and motivate us, rather than relying on Jesus to meet our needs. We let those in authority in the church define what fellowship is, when and how often we go to church, even what marriage and a Christian really is. Even though this may not appear to be the world system, it is a set of self-standards apart from dependence on God that measures success based on independent behavior just as much as any other measurement of the world system may be.

The results and symptoms a person exhibits will depend largely on their temperament. No matter how well it works or how successful it appears to others, all flesh is manipulation and infringes on the personhood of the other (and of course our selves). Any relationships based on flesh attributes are bound to fail, and even as one or all parties involved in a relationship become free from the influence of their flesh, the relationship will and must change, as the true personality and strengths and weaknesses gradually emerge.

Flesh Flags

Anytime you are making a choice between God and “something else” you have identified an aspect of your flesh. There are only two ways of walking, we are either walking by the spirit or by the flesh. So anytime you are having to make a choice between depending on God and anything else—your own mind, will or emotions, or someone else’s resources, strategy, book, teaching, etc., you’ve identified an area where you are living out of the flesh.

Flesh builds an identity around itself. We begin to believe that we are what our flesh says we are. Perhaps you have gotten trapped in the fail-give-up-try-harder cycle, and now consider yourself a backslider. Or you are asked to be guest speaker at the most widely-attended conference in your state, and are therefore a success. Or you have said something that was unkind, and now feel condemned. You are hopeless. None of these are true, but believing what the flesh says about us keeps the flesh in control.

Flesh tries to cope with or without God’s help. Flesh is independent. Anytime we try to do something ourselves, out of our own strength, including fighting the flesh, we are walking in flesh. So a good flag is when we find our selves getting stressed out about our present, past or future plans or mistakes, and then try harder to correct the mistake or prevent them from happening again. Fear, stress and anxiety are all signs you are trying to do God’s job.

Flesh hinders our development of an accurate concept of God. Flesh will attempt to get us to judge our relationship with God based on factors under its control: how we feel, think, or behave about or toward Him, or how we believe He feels, thinks or behaves toward us. As we are freed from flesh over time, we more and more see Him as He truly is, and learn to accept and enjoy how He relates to us as well. Remember He loves you, values you, approves and accepts you now, and meets all your needs as well. We learn to distinguish between the two voices, the one that tears us down and the one that encourages us to depend. Knowing God as He is and overcoming flesh go hand in hand.

Flesh gets us to be fighting the wrong fight. The goal of the flesh is to remain in control, and it uses a variety of ways to achieve that goal. One way is to remain hidden, often by distracting our conscious awareness away from what’s going on in us to the other battlefields, or even to a cause, belief, or by a certain circumstance in our life, either positive or negative. Remaining focused on the three purposes of God for us (getting healed, exposing our flesh and learning to depend on God) will keep us from being distracted by the flesh and putting our energy into things that don’t contribute to our long term goals. And when we do get distracted, remembering our purpose will help us regain our focus and use the circumstance that allowed the flesh to distract us to our greatest advantage.

It’s important to note here that living out of your flesh DOES NOT interfere with your spiritual identity, how pleasing or acceptable you are to God, or whether your spiritual needs are met or not. What is affected is your completeness, and your ability to receive life from the Spirit. Flesh separates your soul and body from your spirit, preventing you from functioning as a complete being.

Overview and Examples of Temperaments and Flesh Types

Our purpose here is to review a limited number of categories of flesh, not to develop a comprehensive list. The point is that flesh is flesh, and is an enemy of dependence on Christ. We will refer to temperament types in terms of the concepts developed by Hippocrates; Sanguine, Melancholy, Choleric and Phlegmatic. The way your soul is put together was decided by God, so it is neither a strength nor a weakness, but part of our living here on this earth is to learn to live with our soul in its proper dependent perspective to our spirit.


 

Popular Sanguine—Optimist, Talker, Extroverted

Greatest Strengths: Cheerful, Fun, Spontaneous, Enthusiastic, Likes People

Greatest Weaknesses: Thoughtless (if you get in the way of their fun); Careless (will forget if it’s not important to them); Uncaring (has a hard time empathizing), Uses People

Flesh based on temperament: Sanguines will use these strengths and weaknesses to get their God-given needs for attention, value and recognition from others, themselves, God and their circumstances.

Needy flesh/coping mechanisms

PEOPLE USER flesh: In relationships the sanguine is more like a bee visiting flower after flower taking what feeds them then moving on. Sanguines do not form deep, long-term relationships easily. This will be manifested by the forgetting of obligations, lack of involvement in the activities of others, and criticism or anger when other’s activities intrude on their own. Because Sanguines love people, they will object strongly when it is suggested the other’s feelings have been hurt or an appointment missed.

Protection flesh/coping mechanisms

SHALLOW flesh: Though sanguines value people, they do not naturally value friendships, which involve give-and-take, risk, work and time. Sanguines must be the one to set the boundaries, relationships must center around them. What it looks like: Forgetfulness—don’t depend on sanguines unless it’s something they want to do/be involved in. This controls other’s expectations of them, and basically keeps them from being put in a position of responsibility or accountability.

Socially acceptable flesh/coping mechanisms

FUN flesh: Sanguine is a good storyteller and will go to great lengths to hold the attention of an audience. They are a welcome addition to social gatherings, and even in a crisis situation will rally the troops, not to overcome an obstacle or achieve a goal, but to have a good time in spite of the circumstances, regardless of the cost or consequences. So they will avoid situations where their actions will be reviewed or the validity of their stories questioned.

Socially unacceptable flesh/coping mechanisms

RUDE flesh: When fun flesh fails, the sanguine may become rude and interrupt conversations already in progress, steering the conversation toward something they want to talk about. Sanguines may even become argumentative, belligerent or abusive in order to get attention. Just as Fun flesh draws attention by being entertaining and interesting, Rude flesh draws attention by being biting and sharp. For some people, this can even become a way of life: we use the flesh that works. If being abusive is accepted, it will become a ready ally. Rudeness can also be a helpful tool for extricating a sanguine out of a situation where they are not getting enough attention. Perhaps someone has a more interesting story, and is therefore getting more attention. What better “out” than to walk off in a huff over a perceived or real slight from someone else.

As the sanguine temperament receives healing, it will become more able to submit to the love God Himself has for His people, and able to accept the admiration and attention from the Spirit that is available for the believer at all times.


Perfect Melancholy—Pessimist, Thinker/Feeler, Introverted

Greatest Strengths: Sets high standards, sensitive to others, giving of self, feels and thinks deeply

Greatest Weaknesses: Perfectionism, hard on others, self, God; will not start something if they don’t think they can do it right the first time, gets stuck on details, emotion-driven reality

Flesh based on temperament: Melancholies will use these strengths and weaknesses to get their God-given needs for order, beauty and deep relationships from others, themselves, God and their circumstances.

Needy flesh/coping mechanisms

EMOTIONAL flesh: Melancholies measure how they are doing by how good they feel emotionally, and vice versa. Because they also have high standards, for themselves and others, they are quick to notice shortcomings, which in turn is depressing, translating into seeing themselves as a failure. So they will try harder to achieve their goals, change, or act on compulsion, not so that change is made, but so they will feel better. Because emotions don’t reflect reality (don’t have meaning in and of themselves), Emotional flesh will often not reflect the true circumstances of that person’s life. At an extreme, the person may have won the lottery, established peace in the Middle East, won a Pulitzer Prize and have stable, long-term healthy relationships, but if they feel like something is out of whack, their emotions will override the objective facts, and they will conclude that they are a failure, everyone hates them, and that their life isn’t worth living.

Protection flesh/coping mechanisms

WITHDRAWAL flesh: The first option for the melancholy under stress is to withdraw emotionally. Depending on the situation and degree of stress, work versus home, etc., this is accomplished in a variety of ways. At work, the melancholy may bury themselves in work, while at home they may either bury themselves in work or opt for strict solitude. Emotional withdrawal may also be used as a way to punish the offending party.

Socially acceptable flesh/coping mechanisms

SELF-SACRIFICING (RELIGIOUS) flesh: Self-sacrificing flesh serves others (and God) in order to feel good about themselves. As a temperament characteristic, giving and compassion do contribute to society, but the melancholy uses these characteristics for their own ends, often manipulating others to achieve their goal of making themselves feel better. This could look like getting so involved in church, civic, or political activities that the needs of the family or self are sacrificed. But because it’s for a good cause, any attempt to make a claim on the melancholy’s use of time and resources will be met with a reasonable-sounding argument that they are needed elsewhere more. Most volunteer organizations, especially religious organizations, could not survive without people with this kind of flesh, since they are not only easy to manipulate, but are well-organized, easy to motivate through guilt and rewards, and hard-working.

Socially unacceptable flesh/coping mechanisms

SELF-PITY (MARTYR) flesh: Melancholies come with a full set of negative emotions ready to be called upon at a moment’s notice. When a melancholy perceives that their needs are not being met, one of the options is to use their strong emotions to draw compassion and pity out of those around them. If this tactic is successful, self-pity will be used to manipulate people and circumstances. They justify this self-pitying by turning it into pity for others (for having to put up with them), and God (“He’s got a job on His hands with me…”).


 

Powerful Choleric—Optimist, Doer, Extroverted

Greatest Strengths: Independent, leader, confident, motivating, usually-right, decisive

Greatest Weaknesses: Bossy, manipulative, causes trouble by finding and fixing other’s problems and telling others how to do it the right way, arrogant, doesn’t need others

Flesh based on temperament: Cholerics will use these strengths and weaknesses to get their God-given needs for independence, results and recognition from others, themselves, God and their circumstances.

Needy flesh/coping mechanisms

DEMANDING flesh: Because the choleric is focused on results, s/he will become ever harder on themselves and others to produce whatever is perceived necessary to meet their needs. The choleric temperament is motivated in part by its need for recognition of its good works, and if it is not forthcoming voluntarily, will demand it through force, whether verbal, physical or emotional coercion. It is not wise to cross a choleric who is living out of their flesh.

Protection flesh/coping mechanisms

ARROGANT/ALOOF flesh: Since “control” is another word for flesh, and the choleric by temperament openly values control as power, cholerics use their force of personality to control not only the behavior of others but also their emotions. By withdrawing their own emotions, or sometimes their input into decisions or even physical withdrawal, the choleric can force those standing in the way to modify their actions and/or submit to the choleric in order to regain protection or leadership. So the choleric may use his flesh to regain control by purposefully relinquishing control, in order to gain appreciation and respect for that control.

Socially acceptable flesh/coping mechanisms

DECISIVE flesh: Cholerics have leadership characteristics built into their temperaments, so non-cholerics are naturally drawn to them. Because they automatically believe they see things as they truly are and have great confidence in their own judgment, they are quick to make decisions, most often the correct ones. So they are often put in leadership positions of all kinds, in which quick-thinking and action is required. As this is one of the cholerics strongest traits, he will often perceive any situation as an opportunity to make the decisions, or do what’s right. Because this world is in great need of decisive leaders, the cholerics negative traits, such as bossiness and disrespect of others, are tolerated and excused.

Socially unacceptable flesh/coping mechanisms

CRITICAL (Self-Righteous / Try-Harder) flesh: Cholerics are truly convinced that there is a right way to do and perceive everything, and that everyone sees and knows what it is. When others (or life circumstances) fail in some way to measure up, the choleric takes it personally, that someone is out to subvert what is right, or that the other person or people involved are just plain stupid. Until the choleric realizes that other people see things totally different than he does, and that their perception is just as “right” (from their perspective) as his, he will measure others’ behavior and life’s circumstances against his own personal measuring stick, against which all are likely to fail. Likewise, once the choleric realizes this tunnel-vision, he is the most motivated to accept reality, since that would be the “right” and practical thing to do, and begin to if not understand, at least allow others to believe and perceive from their own perspectives.


 

Peaceful Phlegmatic—Pessimist, Watcher, Introverted

Greatest Strengths: Easygoing, gets along with everyone; patient, consistent, unflappable

Greatest Weaknesses: Doesn’t like to work, doesn’t get enthused easily, doesn’t make decisions, doesn’t have strong likes or dislikes, wants or don’t wants, is stubborn, hard to motivate, unhelpful, unencouraging

Flesh based on temperament: Phlegmatics will use these strengths and weaknesses to get their God-given needs for peace, stability and uninvolvement from others, themselves, God and their circumstances.

Needy flesh/coping mechanisms

GO-ALONG flesh: The phlegmatic is the professional follower. Go-Along flesh manifests itself by not expressing an opinion, even if it has one, in deference to other’s opinions and decisions. They will agree with whoever has the most power in a situation (in their own estimation) even if they don’t agree, so it is often hard to know where they stand or what they think or feel. Because of this they are easily swayed according to the power shift.

Protection flesh/coping mechanisms

AVOIDANCE flesh: Needs to have control over circumstances and others in order to prevent unpleasantness or crisis, so Avoidance flesh seeks out the path of least resistance. Will avoid people or situations which put them in positions where decisions have to be made by them or in which conflicts may arise. Phlegmatics look for the easiest solution to a problem, so are often short-sighted, which manifests itself in procrastination in dealing with problems that actually need decisions to be made.

Socially acceptable flesh/coping mechanisms

PEACEMAKER flesh: Because phlegmatics are unflappable and desire peace, they are great to have around in stressful situations. But if the phlegmatic doesn’t understand their flesh, their peacemaker flesh will wage peace at any price, stifling conflict even when conflict is helpful or necessary. Because the end—peace—is more important to them than the facts of the situation, or what the long-term effects may be—peacemaker flesh can be both helpful and detrimental.

Socially unacceptable flesh/coping mechanisms

UNINVOLVED flesh: Most human relationships involve both conflict and work at one time or another. Phlegmatics often develop Uninvolved Flesh as a way to prevent themselves from getting emotionally or even figuratively involved in a situation in which conflict may arise. They will even develop their belief systems around the philosophy that “God is in control, so I don’t need to get involved,” as a way to prevent risk. So even though they may be in risky situations or relationships, by keeping emotionally or practically unattached, they can maintain a level of control. One way this is manifested is in the philosophy: “As long as it doesn’t affect me, I don’t need or want to know about it.” For this reason they are hard to motivate, and they will refuse to commit, often simply by not showing up or following through on commitments.

COMMON FLESH PATTERNS

We’ve been looking at a few of the ways flesh and coping mechanisms are formed around our individual temperaments. But there are at least two manifestations of the flesh that are common to everyone, to some degree. These are Co-Dependent Flesh and Performance-Based Flesh. Because they are so common, they are easily excused as part of “normal” behavior, but we are not looking for what’s normal, but healthy and, ultimately, holy.

Co-Dependent Flesh

Most of us have heard of co-dependency in some context or another. For our purposes, co-dependency is defined as meeting needs, either our own, other people’s, or God’s, in order to meet our God-given needs on our terms. In most contexts co-dependency is most obvious on an emotional level; we want to meet other’s needs in order to make ourselves feel better in some way, but this is also applicable to the will (waiting to make a decision until someone else has) and mind (I’ll believe what others believe). The bottom line is whenever we depend on something other than God to meet our needs, we are walking in the flesh. Co-dependency is focusing on another’s needs in order to meet our needs for love, acceptance and recognition.

Performance-Based Flesh

All of us judge ourselves and others on how well or poorly we are “doing.” Our definition of “doing” may vary depending on our temperament, but will always come down to how well we are achieving some kind of goal. For instance, are we getting closer to God, loving our neighbors, moving in the gifts of the spirit, or fulfilling our call? Are we overcoming our flesh, growing in dependence on God, getting healed fast enough? In other words, we are looking at what we are thinking, feeling and doing in order to draw a conclusion as to how well we are meeting a set of standards. As we learn to rest, we will realize more and more that those standards are superficial and fleeting, and that God has already accepted us because we are in Him.

As we’ve discussed, this doesn’t mean we don’t cooperate with God in these other areas, but we realize that whether we pass or fail, miss the mark or greatly excel, fall behind or lead the pack (however we define these terms), does not affect how God thinks of us, how much He loves, accepts and respects us. Neither does it truly affect how much we love, accept and value ourselves and others. But until we are completely healed and therefore free from the tyranny of the law and our flesh, we will all experience some level of performance-based flesh. To cooperate with God in its removal we want to learn to quickly recognize the standards we are using to judge ourselves and others, and revise and adjust our thinking, feeling and behaving as appropriate.

Flesh Factors

You may have recognized patterns of your flesh or behavior in several places in the above that may not necessarily reflect what you believe your temperament to be. That’s expected, as our flesh and coping mechanisms reflect other factors besides our temperament, and we all have a combination of temperaments. Our goal here is not to pin down the exact connection between temperament and flesh, but to open the topic for discussion, bring it out in the open so we can hear from the Lord, from ourselves and others to discover the wounds and the healing and freedom the Lord is bringing into our lives.

Again, our purpose here is not to inclusively discuss all manifestations of flesh in relation to the temperaments, but to give some indications of how our flesh is formed and predominantly determined by our temperaments. This will help in the healing process as we learn to distinguish between our flesh and temperament, since the flesh is something God hates, and is out to destroy, and our temperament is God-given and valued by Him, and an asset to us when under the control of our spirit.

Remember that neither your temperament nor your flesh ARE YOU! You are a spirit being; only God can remove your flesh! But we can join Him in the journey, which enhances our intimacy and relationship with God.

How to Overcome the Flesh

In all the above instances, we generally get distracted and drained trying to get rid of our flesh ourselves. We can’t do it that way, this is God’s job. We can only join Him in that job by giving Him our time and attention. By cooperating with Him in understanding we will learn dependence on Him, which will prevent us from developing more flesh.

Overcoming the Flesh Depends on God’s Timing

Most of us want what we want NOW! Nothing happens quickly enough for us, especially when we are in pain. So one of the things we learn as we practice depending on God is patience, knowing that God’s timing is not our timing. We can be encouraged, however, that by the time God lets us know He’s working on something, 99% of the work is done, and He’s just including us at the end (past the time that our involvement could jeopardize His work). We can also be encouraged that at the opposite times, when nothing seems to be happening, perhaps the most is happening on His part. The more we can wait with confidence the more we enter His rest. And the more He can trust our soul—our mind, will and emotions—with insight into His plans, knowing that we will not jeopardize those plans by trying to take them into our own hands. We can let patience have its perfect work in our lives as we see that God’s timing is contrary to our flesh, the world system and the enemy’s anxious strategies.

Overcoming the Flesh Depends on God’s Priorities

As in most areas of our lives, we want God to deal with those areas of our flesh that are causing us the most pain or keeping us from achieving our goals. But God has a specific approach that He is taking in each one of our lives. And He is not about to deviate from that plan just because we put up a little fuss. Even people who share temperament traits, and therefore stress points and flesh patterns, may not experience similar handling by God. He cares for us as individuals, and has customized His program accordingly.

Overcoming the Flesh Depends on God’s Motivation

Remember that God is dealing with your flesh because He loves you. The presence of flesh in your life points to an area where you harbor an unhealed wound. The reason God hates the flesh is because it separates us from living as a whole being dependent on Him, because the flesh is keeping us wounded. God is motivated to get rid of our flesh not because it is keeping us from being a good witness for Him, from accomplishing His will, or because He hates flesh. God is getting rid of our flesh because He loves us, and walking after the flesh is death to us.

You Can Cooperate with God by…

Identifying Your Temperament

Whatever structure or program you use to develop a profile of the way God has put your soul together, be sure to remember that your temperament is God-given, exactly the one God wanted you to have. It ain’t broke, so it doesn’t need to be fixed. It just needs to be set free, brought into alignment with your spirit, and given the proper diet of life from your spirit (from God’s Spirit). As you become free and whole, you will join God in appreciating both your strengths and weaknesses that came with the package, and not take them personally, try to change them or use them to achieve a goal.

Identifying Your Flesh

A great place to start in identifying your flesh is in identifying what causes you stress, and what you are thinking, feeling, doing at the time you notice you are under stress. Remember that as you become more and more aware of your flesh, it is precisely this awareness that IS cooperation with God as He acts to remove your flesh. He will reveal your flesh as He is working on it; so you can be sure that as you see it, it is being dealt with.

Identifying Your Coping Mechanisms(How You React to Stress)

Work at identifying the behaviors, thoughts and emotional reactions you have developed in order to control others and feel better (deal with stress). As you do this, you will be able to be on guard for them, realizing that as long as we are here on this earth and our flesh hasn’t been totally dealt with, we will at times walk after the flesh. But we can more quickly recognize our flesh-walk when we identify our coping behaviors, recognize the flesh, and turn both the flesh and the behavior over to God.

Repent

Change your mind as He reveals the truth about who you are, who He is, and the truth about others as well. This will involve changing our beliefs. If we want to be healed, our beliefs must change, since it is the lies we believe that are causing the wounds. Repentance is both changing our mind and agreeing with God. As we lay down the lies we have believed, we will also pick up the truth. As we experience His nature, His truth, we will begin to be motivated in a whole new way—by His leading, love and true inspiration.

Responding to His Healing

As we depend on Him, He will crucify the flesh and provide the healing, encouragement and training we need in order to depend on Him more. As we give this process our time and our attention, God takes care of the rest. Realize that throughout this process as our beliefs change, so will our behaviors. This will put stress on our present circumstances and relationships, and it is likely that choices will have to be made about those circumstances.

Realize That You Are in a Battle

Your flesh is in a battle for its life, and the flesh dies hard. We are admonished to count the cost before we begin the building. Realize that our God-originated desire for freedom will be opposed by all three earthly enemies—the world, the flesh and the devil—so that when these battles are waged we are not taken by surprise. It is often through this process that we find out how much we have compromised with these areas, and have truly been sleeping with our enemy.

Be Willing to Change Your Concept of God

A big part of overcoming our flesh is being willing to change our minds regarding what we believe God to be. The idea that God loves, accepts and honors us just because we are in His family is contrary to the way most of us were raised to believe and treat God, others and ourselves. But this fundamental truth is the very heart of Christianity. Because Jesus died for all sins, when we partake of His resurrection, we are made a new creation, truly born anew, and born into a new heritage and inheritance based on our new spiritual genetics. Over time God reveals and makes this truth real, which is one of His ultimate goals for our time here on earth.

Be Willing to Change Your Concept of Yourself

Accept the way God made you, both as a spirit, with a soul, living in a body, and with a soul that is unique in mind, will and emotions. As He heals and frees each aspect of your soul, learn also to accept those aspects of yourself you may not necessarily find likeable. Always remember, however, that your soul is not who you are, and though you accept your soul as God-given, you are not to be controlled by your temperament. As you are released from being under the influence of your flesh, your mind, will and emotions become more and more whole, and more and more under the control of your spirit.

Be Willing to Change Your Concept of Others

Just as you distinguish between your temperament and your flesh, recognizing this distinction in others as well will set you free to accept them unconditionally now. As with ourselves, as we acknowledge that the behaviors of the flesh are not acceptable to God, we learn to be able to identify the true nature (living versus dead) of others, and can therefore appropriately judge the behavior without judging the person.

Learn to Recognize Hindrances, Distractions, Condemnation

We overcome the flesh by recognizing the hindrances, distractions and tactics that the flesh uses to get us to be fighting the wrong fight. The flesh is deceptive, controlling, subtle and tireless, and will use whatever works to keep us from resting in dependence on God: simply accepting the life He gives us now by His Spirit through our spirit to our soul and body. The more we recognize these hindrances, the more our misbeliefs are uncovered, and the more we can accept His life and see how much we DON’T need the flesh, joining God even more in His crusade to abolish it from our life.

HINDRANCES TO OVERCOMING THE FLESH

The more we depend on Him for life, the more He refines our ability to recognize and overcome the hindrances that keep us walking in the flesh. Our job, then, is to recognize that the battle is His, and that He’s already won it. So as we enter into His rest, we also labor to agree and believe. Even this ability is given by the Spirit, Who now resides within us.

We are Hindered from Overcoming the Flesh by the Devil

One of the devil’s main goals for us is to keep us from getting healed and coming into wholeness and dependence on God. The devil’s greatest enemy is the soul freely submitted to God and available to contain and funnel the freely-flowing Life of God. So the enemy will use every available tactic to keep our flesh from being exposed or dealt with. We will be discussing specific ways to deal with demonic interference in the following chapter, so we won’t go into much depth here, except to say that your flesh is the nourishment of the devil. Though his efforts to distract, condemn, and tempt us will never end, his ability to influence us is limited by the amount of flesh we have. If you want to be impervious to the attacks of the enemy, join God in getting rid of your flesh! Because of this, God is not going to let the enemy stop Him from getting rid of your flesh. But do prepare to learn how to battle and overcome the enemy.

We are Hindered from Overcoming the Flesh by the World System

Our flesh is developed over time to accommodate and cooperate with the world system. So we must know going into this that as we become more and more free from our flesh, we will fit into and be accepted by the world system less and less. Our priorities, values and perspectives will change, and the world system will, through its very existence, exert restrictions on our efforts to become free. We are admonished to be in the world yet not of it; as we recognize the methods and effects of the world system, we can partake of the wonders of the time we are living in without succumbing to its distractions and influences. We can run away to live in the woods, free from the tyranny of civilization, without ever leaving our house, changing jobs or giving up the blessings and benefits available to us today.

We are Hindered from Overcoming the Flesh by Wanting to be Involved

Finding the balance between being engaged with God’s efforts to bring us into dependence, and the urge to have an influence on it ourselves is one of the most challenging aspects of learning to walk in the spirit. We want to know exactly what God is doing, and how we can help, so we can make it go faster or make it be less painful, or even take credit for it. This is one reason that for most of us most of the time, by the time God reveals an aspect of flesh He is purging, 99% of the work is already done. God not only doesn’t need our help, our interference can prolong our agony. So it’s best to accept His timetable and approach.

We are Hindered from Overcoming the Flesh by Not being Willing to Change

Over time we have built our lives around our flesh. As our flesh is exposed and consumed, other aspects of our lives will have to change as well. The way we treat others and ourselves, what we expect, how we evaluate how we are doing, will all be scrutinized to see if they line up with the truth about how the Lord sees us. If we are not willing to change our mind, beliefs, and habits, even though the Lord may consume our flesh in an area, we will re-grow it, or develop stronger flesh in another area. Knowing the truth not only sets us free (a one-time event) but makes us free (a life-long process).

We are Hindered from Overcoming the Flesh through Lack of Knowledge

If we don’t understand what is causing our problems—flesh—we will continue to do everything but what is necessary. We need to work with God on our personal issues, learning from Him how to identify and overcome our flesh patterns, coping mechanisms and how to learn to enjoy but not be dependent upon our temperaments. As we are freed from our misconceptions, His truth brings us into greater and greater knowledge and understanding, so we are then able to share with others this great grace which He has shared with us.

We are Hindered from Overcoming the Flesh through Distractions and Wrong Priorities

The flesh is deceptive, and will always find something to keep us busy, even positive, helpful, sacrificial things that contribute to the so-called building of the kingdom of God. Anything to keep us from focusing on what God wants us to focus on. Dependence on God will become like blinders to a race horse, so that we become unaware of what is going on around us, other than the way set before us and the direction of our master’s hands guiding and leading us. Everything that the Lord asks us to do is first priority; there are no other priorities. Our family is not second, or ourselves third. Simply put, being dependent on God is the only priority, and affects all these other aspects of our lives here on earth as they are appropriately included in that first priority.

We are Hindered from Overcoming the Flesh by being Fully Dominated by an Aspect of Our Flesh

Some of us are just not able to respond consciously. We are under such flesh bondage that we can’t hear and we can’t respond. We use an aspect of our mind, will or emotions to judge how we are doing to such a degree that we are incapable of being objective. Our desire to run from pain can be so strong that even when we know confronting our flesh is necessary, we avoid it anyway. This is often made stronger through the false belief that if we are in the perfect will of God we will never experience negative circumstances, make mistakes, or feel depressed or in pain. But the process of the crucifixion of our flesh is a painful experience; our greatest contribution can only be to lie still under the surgeon’s scalpel. Thank God that He doesn’t wait for our response, but does whatever is necessary to free us from the flesh, eventually bringing us into an acknowledgment of the work He has done.

We are Hindered from Overcoming the Flesh Because We haven’t Given Up Our Rights

Part of growing in dependence on the Lord is giving up our rights (see “Relinquishing Our Rights”). Our flesh is built around the premise that we have a say in and a right to determine how and when our needs are met. As long as we cling to those rights, we are protecting the flesh, and God must take more and more drastic measures to reveal the futility of this act. We must not only acknowledge the sovereignty of God over the universe, but submit to His sovereignty over our lives individually.

How Does God Convict Us of the Flesh?

We will continue to walk in the flesh for as long as it works at its primary functions: getting our needs met our way and protecting us from getting hurt. God convicts us of the flesh, or convinces us of our flesh, by revealing it to us for what it is. He arranges circumstances in which our flesh gets out of control, exposing it. Here we can try harder to regain control on our terms (strengthen our flesh) or repent (agree with God that it is flesh, and that our needs are already met) and relinquish the flesh to Him to deal with in His time and on His terms.

Most of us can look back over our lives and see a pattern of poor choices or behaviors that we wish we could do over. There is that old saying that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Well there’s more to it than that; we must not only observe our own history, we must reflect on it objectively, honestly evaluating what has worked and what hasn’t. It is often through this exercise that God will reveal to us our most pervasive flesh patterns. Since the flesh is so subtle, it is often only revealed as recurring behavior problems over a period of time. So when God is ready to deal with it, He arranges circumstances that will once again bring those flesh patterns and coping mechanisms to the surface.

If you have trouble with this exercise you may want to consider asking a family member or trusted friend to walk through your history with you to provide some helpful objectivity and encouragement.

Why Does God Convict Us of the Flesh?

God convicts us of the flesh in order to free us from its influence. He wants us free to embrace our temperament the way He made it, to accept, love and honor our selves as He created us. Through this process we learn to receive our life from our spirit, instead of trying to substitute our self-life. This is the concept presented in religious circles as becoming dead to the self-life, or crucifying the flesh. Through the conviction of our flesh we join God in His purposes in our lives, and learn how to love, accept and help free others. We are also encouraged as we see the true, lasting changes in our lives, which in turn encourages us to depend more and more on God, preventing new flesh from forming.

How Can You Know if You’re Resisting Conviction of the Flesh?

The most significant indication that you are resisting God’s conviction of your flesh is if you are in any way avoiding getting close to God. Withholding emotional intimacy, not going to Him when making decisions, not relying on Him to meet your needs or letting Him change your mind are indications of resistance. Avoiding even one area of relationship with the Lord is an indication the flesh is maintaining its control in that area by keeping itself out of the exposing light of His presence.

The other two main warning flags that you are resisting the conviction of your flesh is if you are experiencing cyclical troublesome circumstances (keep losing jobs, jump from one relationship to another, etc.) or if you have chronic health problems. Though there are other explanations for all of these, it is always wise to ask the Lord if you are running from His conviction when these are noticed. As we grow in dependence in Him, we become more aware of His revealing of our flesh, so the methods He uses over time will become less and less dramatic. Instead of just trying to fix the problem or blame the situation or another person, start with an objective analysis of the situation. One way to do this is to ask yourself what would you tell a friend who came to you with your particular problem.

Here are some subtle warning flags that may indicate you’re resisting His conviction:

  • Refusal or inability to seek and accept opposing advice when making decisions
  • Impatience with your self; making snap or impulse decisions or purchases
  • Insisting on having something to “do”; refusing to rest
  • Avoiding appropriate responsibility
  • Being incapable of objectivity
  • Fear of feeling
  • Fear of making a decision
  • Fear of making a mistake
  • Behaving out of control
  • Fear of change
  • Physical outbursts/violence

Results of Overcoming the Flesh

Who you are as a spirit being is not capable of walking in or being influenced by the flesh. Your soul, on the other hand, has two options. Either walking in union with your spirit (which is already joined with God’s Spirit), therefore walking after or in dependence on the spirit, or walking independently, accessing its own resources, walking according to the flesh. Over time, according to God’s timetable and priorities, what are the results of overcoming the flesh that we can expect to see in our own lives? Broadly, we begin to experience the complete meeting of our needs in our soul in all areas—mind, will and emotions—and in turn begin to experience not only health in our bodies, but wholeness in our being as we become one in Him, spirit, soul and body.

The Main Result of Overcoming the Flesh Can Be Summed Up as:

~ F R E E D O M ~

Since flesh is a controller, and in the spirit there is liberty, as we are freed from the flesh we are set free to live as we were created by God, and join Him by letting His life flow to and through us.

  • Free to love and be loved by God, others and our selves.
  • Free to accept and be accepted by God, others and our selves.
  • Free to honor and be honored by God, others and our selves.
  • Free to join Him in His purposes for our lives and to be a vessel through which His life can reach others.
  • Free to enter into His rest
  • Free to enjoy intimacy with Him
  • Free to be led by Him
  • Free to be fully protected by Him
  • Free to take risks with Him
  • Free to be comforted by Him
  • Free to be rejected with Him

For each of us, freedom from flesh will be a unique experience. But through the process we learn dependence and intimacy, knowing and being known by God in a greater and greater way. Because our mind, will and emotions are as yet blurred by our flesh, we are unable to comprehend the wonderful life God has in store for each of us now. We can be confident, however, that it will be worth the pain of change God is asking of us today.

Adapted from Getting Healed by Dianne Thomas