HOW TO EXPERIENCE VICTORY OVER YOUR FLESH
One of the great struggles that Christians battle with is their fleshly desires.
I. Understanding your two natures
A. What is your nature?
The word nature is used many times in the New Testament. When it is used in reference to an unsaved individual it refers to the natural and innate sinful characteristics and desires. The sinful nature of man is what drives and motivates each of us to desire and act out sinful behavior. All mankind are sinners by nature because after Adam sinned he passed on his nature to all his descendants. “Adam…begot a son in his own likeness after his image, and named him Seth” (Gen. 5:3). Paul declares that we are “by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). In addition, your sinful nature is also called the “old man” or the general term of the “flesh” (Rom. 6:6) (Gal. 5:16).
B. You have two natures.
For those who have received Christ as Savior and Lord, God then gives and new nature to enable us to desire and act out godly behavior. God has “given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4). This new nature is also called the “new man” in Scripture (Eph. 4:24) (Col. 3:10). In addition, Paul describes the believers walk under the control of the new nature as “walking in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16).
C. These two natures will always be contrary to one another.
The battle that goes on inside a believer is the surest proof that both of these natures exist at the same time within. You could not desire to do righteousness nor would you feel bad when you failed unless this battle was going on inside you. Paul declared the reality of this battle when he said, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Gal. 5:17). What is the remedy to this battle? “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).
This study is expressly written to explain how you can walk in the Spirit and not be ruled by your sinful nature. Understanding and applying these truths will be fundamental to any Christian’s ability to grow and mature as a believer.
II. Knowing your victory
A. Where victory must begin.
The first step in finding victory over your sinful nature was declared by the apostle Paul in Romans 6:6. “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” He explains in this verse that you first must know something very important, namely, that your old man was crucified with Christ two thousand years ago. The word knowing in this text means to know or perceive a truth personally and experientially. It is the difference between knowing that fire burns because you were told it does and knowing this because you put your finger to close to a lit candle. Therefore, you must know with personal conviction and absolute assurance that your old man was crucified with Christ.
B. Why is this truth so important?
Because to gain victory over your fleshly sinful nature, you must first know that the victory is already won. This is a finished work. Your old man was crucified (past tense). You don’t have to do anything to obtain it, just believe it. In addition, God doesn't want you looking to what you feel because when your old nature seeks to dominate you, your senses tell you that your old nature isn't dead. The finished work of Christ simply needs to be applied to your life. How is this done?
III. Choosing to believe
A. Reckon it to be true.
In Romans 6:11 Paul now reveals the second step to victory over your flesh. “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The word reckon means to account something to be true and factual. In other words, if you saw in your bank statement that you had $25, you would account that to be true and factual. You would believe the bank’s statement of the facts. Likewise you must do the same with the truth declared in Romans 6:6 that your old man was crucified with Christ. This word reckon is also in the present tense which means that your responsibility is to account and believe this fact continually. You must never be moved away from this fact.
Therefore, to reckon yourself dead to sin means that you are accounting that your sinful nature was put to death with Christ and has no right to rule in you anymore. When lust, pride, hatred, envy, or any other sinful desire begins to attempt to rule in you, this is when you must know and be assured that sin doesn't have the right to dominate you. Then you must also reckon yourself alive to God. In other words, this means that you are accounting your life and body to be God’s by surrendering to Him at that moment.
B. Why doesn't it happen?
Again Paul exhorted, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts” (Rom. 6:12). Many times we lose the battle because we choose to obey our lust and refuse to believe the victory we have in Christ. Therefore, if you want victory from the power of your flesh, remember, it’s simply a choice to surrender and believe God’s Word.
IV. Presenting yourself
A. A lasting victory.
In Romans 6:13 Paul taught, “Do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” Here is where lasting victory comes from. The word present again describes a choice, which means that you should choose to yield yourselves to God and not your sinful desires. This is the only place that anyone will find lasting victory over his or her fleshly nature.
B. The promise.
Here is God’s promise to anyone who will believe and obey these instructions. “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Rom. 6:14). Notice that this verse does not promise that you will be free from the presence or temptation of sin. It only promises that your sinful nature does not have the right to have dominion over you. The word dominion means to exercise lordship or power over you. Will you believe this promise and begin to walk in the victory that Christ has given you?