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Episode 12 of Kindavangelical just released! The Art and Joy of Civil Conversation

Figuring Out the Flesh You Battle—Part 2

There is no way to win the war by fighting the wrong battles. —Unknown

Yesterday we looked at the first kind of flesh that Billy Gillham identified. The second kind of flesh Billy Gillham identifies is Homemade Vanilla flesh. It looks pretty generic because so many of us live with it. The Bible says:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of range, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. (Galatians 5:19-21)

Homemade Vanilla flesh tries really hard to cut out these acts. They win some; they lose some. I think it could actually be called “octopus-flavored flesh,” but who is going to admit to being that?! The octopus has this big head and all these arms going out. For the sake of analogy, let’s say that the arms represent the sins in that list. Everyone is struggling with one or two of them, right? So what do you do? You chop, and you hack, and you saw away at that arm, but just when one arm seems severed, and you start to focus on hacking off another, “Bip!”—the other arm grows back.

Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? (Galatians 3:3)

It’s interesting to note that the words human effort in that verse are translated from the Greek word sarx. Paul is again talking about the flesh!

Listen to me, brothers and sisters. You don’t kill an octopus one tentacle at a time. You kill it by chopping off its head. The head of the octopus is your flesh. That’s where sin, the “acts of the flesh,” come from. The way you overcome those sin-struggles is to stop doing things in your own strength. You walk in the Spirit, trusting Christ to live through you in all areas.

You say, “It sounds so simple.” You know, at the end of the day, it kind of is.

Spirit, vanilla-flavored flesh is so common it almost seems right! But take me out of that losing battle. I quit trying to hack off one aspect of my sin in my own strength. I rest in You today. I cease trying on my own. I choose to let You live through me instead. Amen.

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