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Jeremiah 18:1-6 (Message Version)God told Jeremiah,
“Up on your feet! Go to the potter’s house. When you get there, I’ll tell you what I have to say.”
So I went to the potter’s house, and sure enough, the potter was there, working away at his wheel.
Whenever the pot the potter was working on turned out badly, as sometimes happens when you are working with clay, the potter would simply start over and use the same clay to make another pot.
“Can’t I do just as this potter does, people of Israel?” God’s Decree! “Watch this potter. In the same way that this potter works his clay, I work on you, people of Israel.”
Psalms 23:6 (Message Bible)
“Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.”
Have you ever thought about it? The Holy Spirit helps and encourages believers to do what’s right. And if we yield to the Holy Spirit, we can do what is right. But even though He helps us do what is right, we can’t really say it is the Holy Spirit who does right—we do. The Triumphant Church We ultimately make the choice to yield to the Holy Spirit and walk in line with the Word and do what’s right. The Holy Spirit assists us, of course, but we have to yield to His gentle promptings. It’s the same way with the devil. The devil will help and encourage people—saved and unsaved alike if they will allow him—to do what’s wrong in every way he possibly can. The Christian is not under his dominion, but Satan will still try to work through a Christian’s flesh to get him to do wrong if the person allows it. Satan has dominion over those who walk in darkness, so he can greatly assist them in wrongdoing. But in one respect, you can’t say that all the evil committed by those in darkness is entirely the work of the devil either. According to the Scriptures, the lust of their own fleshly nature is also involved in wrongdoing. Just as the Holy Spirit assists us to do right, the devil assists anyone walking in darkness to do wrong. But it’s still the person’s responsibility what they do because people have free choice. EPHESIANS 2:1-3 1 And you hath he quickened [made alive], who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now WORKETH in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation [lifestyle] in times past in THE LUSTS OF OUR FLESH, fulfilling the DESIRES of the FLESH and of the MIND; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. The Scriptures tell us that the devil, or “the princeof the power of the air,” works in people for evil, just as the Holy Spirit works in God’s people for good. PHILIPPIANS 2:13 13 For it is God which WORKETH IN YOU both to will and to do of his GOOD pleasure. People can’t lay everything off on the devil and blame him for all the bad things that happen to them. Not all evil is directly the work of a demon. Indirectly, of course, everything that is evil originated with the devil. But the point I’m trying to make is that people still have their own part to play in wrongdoing—the choice is theirs. On one side of the ditch, just as believers try to lay everything off on the devil, on the other side of the ditch, they can’t lay everything off on the Holy Spirit either. In other words, they cannot put all the responsibility for their actions on the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit prompts us and gently leads us, but we have to yield to Him and respond to His instructions. We still have to choose to do what is right or choose to do what is wrong. When you choose to do wrong, that’s not the devil making the choice—it’s you. He may tempt you, of course, but you ultimately make the choice to whom you are going to yield—Satan or the Holy Spirit.
MATTHEW 5:29,30 29 And if thy right eye offend thee, PLUCK IT OUT, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy MEMBERS should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, CUT IT OFF, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy MEMBERS should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. Jesus’ instructions about how to deal with the flesh were just as direct as Paul’s. In these scriptures, Jesus wasn’t saying to literally pull your eye out or cut your hand off. That’s symbolic. He was saying that sometimes it will hurt you to deal with your fleshly lusts and appetites just about as much as it would be to cut off one of your bodily members. It will be painful to your flesh to put these cravings away from you. That’s why the Bible uses the words “crucify” and “mortify”; it’s not pleasant. It hurts the flesh. Just as Paul did, Jesus also emphasized that you are the one who has to pluck out the evil tendencies, lusts, appetites, and cravings of your own flesh and put them away from you. God is not going to do that for you. God will strengthen and encourage you, of course, but He won’t do it for you. It won’t be pleasant, but this is one way you become Spirit-ruled and Spirit-led instead of body-ruled, body-conscious, body-led and open prey to the devil. Actually, this is one way you submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7)God, Take the Snuff!’ There was a woman down in Texas who came to one of my meetings. After everyone else left, this woman prayed at the altar, just bawling and squalling. Every now and then, she’d yell, “Take it away from me, Lord! You know I don’t want it!” And then she’d get to screaming like a freight train going through a tunnel. I finally said to her, “Sister! What is it you don’t want?” She said, “Why, that old snuff.” I said, “God isn’t going to take snuff away from you. What would He do with it if He had it? He doesn’t dip snuff. You’re going to have to do something about it yourself. You’re going to have to crucify your own flesh.” She said, “Oh, but I couldn’t give up good ole snuff!” Remember, Jesus said if your hand offends you— you cut it off. He didn’t mean to get an axe and cut your hand off. But when you put away the lusts and the cravings of your own flesh, it’s going to “crucify,” “kill,” and “put to death” your flesh. Most folks today would have wanted to cast a “snuff” devil out of that woman! That’s what she wanted too—the easy way out. You will have to crucify your own flesh and bring our fleshly appetites, lusts, and carnal cravings into subjection. The devil will try to gain access to you any way he can, and he will use the cravings of your own flesh to do it if you allow him to. But you don’t have to allow him to. When the devil tries to use your flesh to gain access to you, it doesn’t mean you’re demon possessed. The devil will always work through the flesh because your body isn’t redeemed and your five physical senses contact this world where Satan is god (2 Cor. 4:4). But if you don’t furnish the devil anything to work with—if you don’t give him any place in you—he won’t have any access to you. So the Bible says there are lusts of the human carnal nature which have nothing to do with evil spirits. You can’t cast the flesh out; you have to crucify or mortify the deeds of the flesh. However, if you continue to give place to the lusts of your flesh, you will eventually open the door to an evil spirit. The devil will accommodate believers and help them fulfill the lust of their own fleshly desires. And eventually an evil spirit can get a hold of believers who continually indulge in the lust of their carnal, sensual nature. That is one way Satan gains access, even to believers.Continue reading “Jesus’ Remedy for ‘Flesh’ Problems”
If an evil spirit is involved trying to work through your flesh, you have authority over it. The devil and evil spirits have no dominion over you, as long as you’re walking in line with the Word and doing what you’re supposed to with your flesh. Stand against Satan and his wiles, because the Bible says he has to flee (James 4:7). But if it’s just the flesh you’re dealing with, you won’t be able to cast it out like you could an evil spirit. No, you have to crucify or mortify the deeds of the body (Gal. 5:24; Col. 3:5). Everyone—preacher and layperson alike—must crucify the lusts of his own flesh and the cravings of his own carnal nature. In Paul’s epistles, he talks about “mortifying” the deeds of the body. COLOSSIANS 3:5 5 MORTIFY therefore YOUR MEMBERS [your body] which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, affection, evil inordinate concupiscence, andcovetousness, which is idolatry. ROMANS 8:5-8,12-14 5 For they that are after the FLESH do mind the things of the FLESH; but they that are after the SPIRIT the things of the SPIRIT. 6 For to be CARNALLY MINDED IS DEATH; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the CARNAL MIND IS ENMITY AGAINST GOD: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the FLESH [those who are dominated by their fleshly carnal nature] CANNOT PLEASE GOD…. 12 … brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the FLESH, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do MORTIFY the DEEDS OF THE BODY, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, they are the sons of God. To “mortify” means to kill, become dead, cause to be dead, put to death, or subdue. Mortifying or crucifying the flesh is something each believer must do for himself; God can’t do that for him. Your husband, your wife, or your pastor can’t mortify the deeds of your flesh for you. You must “kill,” “put to death,” and subdue the lust of your own carnal, fleshly nature. That is part of your “spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1,2) in presenting your body as a living sacrifice to God. It s part of submitting to God so you can resist the devil. Those who continually practice putting to death the deeds of their unregenerate nature won’t have the problems with the devil that carnal Christians do. That doesn’t mean the devil won’t try to attack them, but they will know how to keep from giving the devil any place in them. GALATIANS 5:24 24 And they that are Christ’s have CRUCIFIED the FLESH with the AFFECTIONS and LUSTS. Crucifying the flesh is not pleasurable. Every Christian has the same way of escape from falling prey to the devil through the lusts of his own flesh. But not every Christian takes the way of escape provided for him by crucifying his own flesh. Why? Because it hurts to deny the flesh. We don’t have much teaching on crucifying the flesh in the Charismatic Movement. That’s one reason some people have taken the teaching on demons to the extreme and thought that everything bad that happens is the devil at work. No, not everything bad is the direct result of the devil or a demon. Much of what believers call the devil is just the work of the flesh. And no one can do anything about your flesh for you; you have to crucify it yourself (Col. 3:5). These folks who are always trying to cast out a devil want the easy way out. It’s easier for a believer to get someone else to try to cast a demon out of him than it is to crucify and mortify his own flesh with its lusts and affections because it hurts to do that. Years ago a woman came up to me after one of my meetings wanting deliverance from a devil. She said, “Brother Hagin, I wish you would cast this ole unforgiving spirit out of me.” She explained that another Christian woman had offended her. “Sister Soand-so did me wrong. God knows I want to forgive her,but I can’t. Please cast this ole unforgiving spirit out of me!” I asked her, “Have you ever forgiven your husband?” She said, “Yes, of course.” I said, “I thought you said you couldn’t forgive because you have an unforgiving spirit in you. No, if you can forgive one person, you can forgive another person. The real problem is you don’t want to forgive this sister. You want to hold a grudge against her. “You don’t need a devil cast out of you. That unforgiveness is just your flesh, and you’re going to have to deal with that yourself. You just need to do what the Word of God says in Ephesians 4:32: ‘And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.'” If God told us to be kind and forgive each other as He’s forgiven us, that means we can do it. But you won’t be able to forgive if you allow your flesh to control you. But God wouldn’t tell you to do something you couldn’t do, because He would be unjust if He did. And God is not unjust. We can forgive just as God forgives because the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts (Rom. 5:5). So most of the time it’s not a matter of casting out an evil spirit; it’s a matter of crucifying the flesh so the love of God in our hearts can be manifested in the outward man. God doesn’t have any “quick fixes,” and He isn’t running any fast-food joints or ninety-nine cent sales! If you want to experience a triumphant Christian walk over the devil, the flesh, and the world, then it costs the same price as it always has. You’ll have to be thoroughly Word-based, living by the principles in God’s Word. And you start by crucifying your own flesh and learning to walk in the God-kind of love! You’re not going to solve all your problems by just trying to deal with the devil all the time. Yes, there are times to deal with the devil, but much of the time it’s your own flesh causing you the problems!
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And It’s Not the Devil You need to realize something else about the flesh. It has its own lusts and appetites, and it’s not a devil at work or even demonic activity. Look again at Ephesians 4:22. EPHESIANS 4:22 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation [lifestyle] THE OLD MAN, which is CORRUPT according to the DECEITFUL LUSTS. We can learn something else about the lusts of the flesh from the Book of Romans. ROMANS 1:24-28 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the LUSTS OF THEIR OWN HEARTS, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, BURNED IN THEIR LUST one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient. In the margin of my Bible, the word “reprobate” is defined as a mind void of judgment. The Bible isn’t talking about a spirit of lust here. Notice in verse 27, the Bible doesn’t call this a “spirit of lust.” It Just says those in disobedience burned in their lust toward one another. Verse 24 says, “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the LUSTS OF THEIR OWN HEARTS….” It’s the lust of their own hearts—the unredeemed thoughts and feelings of man—that caused those walking in darkness to finally be turned over to a reprobate mind. Then in verse 27 it says they “burned in their lust” toward one another. That’s man’s unregenerated nature apart from God. The Bible doesn’t call that a devil; it calls it the “lusts of their own hearts.” The flesh—the unredeemed nature of man—has its own lusts because it is degenerate; it’s never been born again. The lusts of the flesh have nothing to do with a “spirit” of lust. The flesh has its own appetites or “fleshly cravings.” 1 PETER 2:11 11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from FLESHLY LUSTS, which WAR AGAINST THE SOUL. As long as you allow your fleshly lusts to dominate you, you will always have trouble in your soul—your mind, will, and emotions. And that will give Satan an open door. JAMES 1:13-15 13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of HIS OWN LUST, and ENTICED. 15 Then when LUST hath conceived, it bringeth forth SIN: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth DEATH. According to this Scripture, it’s the lust of a person’s own unredeemed nature that draws him into error. Some people mistake the corruption that lust, sin, and death produce, and think it’s demonic activity at workBut it isn’t. It’s the fruit of the flesh left unchecked. Ephesians also talks about the lusts of the flesh and of the mind or soul. EPHESIANS 2:3 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation [lifestyle] in times past in the LUSTS OF OUR FLESH, fulfilling the DESIRES OF THE FLESH and OF THE MIND; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Let’s look in Colossians chapter 3, to see how the new creature in Christ acts and to see what we are commanded to “put on.” COLOSSIANS 3:12-14 12 PUT ON therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, BOWELS OF MERCIES, KINDNESS, HUMBLENESS OF MIND, MEEKNESS, LONGSUFFERING; 13 FORBEARING ONE ANOTHER, and FORGIVING ONE ANOTHER, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14 And above all these things PUT ON CHARITY, which is the bond of perfectness. In verse 13, the phrase “forbearing one another” means putting up with one another. When we begin to get agitated and impatient with one another, it isn’t necessarily a devil at work. We just need to exercise forbearance and forgive one another, even as Christ forgave us (v. 13). The word translated in verse 14 as “charity” is the Greek word, “agape”—the God-kind of love. We are to put on love. Putting on love is a protection against the enemy because then we don’t give the devil any place in us (Eph. 4:27). When we’re born again, the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost (Rom. 5:5). But we’re going to have to take the love that’s in our hearts and put it on our outward man because the love of God hasn’t been shed abroad in our flesh. If we don’t put on the love of God on our outward man, Satan can have a heyday in our lives through our flesh.
Anger—Flesh, Not ‘the Irish,’
And Not the Devil
I heard one fellow talking about his grandpa. With the least little provocation, his grandpa would fly off the handle and go into a rage. This man’s grandfather always used the excuse, “Well, that’s just the Irish in me.” No, it wasn’t “the Irish” in him. It was the flesh! EPHESIANS 4:26 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath. According to Ephesians 4:26, putting off the old man and putting on the new man is a choice: “Be ye angry, and sin not….” That means if you get angry about something, you don’t have to let your flesh take over. You don’t have to lose control of your temper. You have a choice. You don’t have to give in to the dictates of your fleshly, carnal nature. If you let the flesh dominate you, you can get out of control and do and say things you’ll regret later on. Many people want to blame the devil when they lose control and go into a rage or a fit of anger. But they’re just giving in to their flesh and letting it dominate them. And by not keeping their flesh in check, they are opening a door to the devil. Some folks think you can get so “sanctified” that you won’t ever have any more problems with the flesh or Satan. But the only way you won’t have problems with the flesh or Satan is to die and leave this world! A fellow came to me one time after one of my morning meetings. He said, “Brother Hagin, I want you to pray that I won’t ever have any more trouble with the devil.” I asked, “Do you want me to pray that you’ll die?” He said, “No, I don’t want to die.” I said, “The only way you’ll never have any more trouble with the devil is to die and get out of this world!” Much of the trouble this man thought was coming from the devil was really nothing more than his flesh, but he hadn’t learned to distinguish the difference. To be perfectly honest with you, I’m persuaded that Christians have more trouble with their flesh than they do with the devil. Often Christians who are having problems with the flesh think if they could just “get away” from it all, or move to another state, or change jobs or churches, things would be different. But you can’t get away from the flesh; moving or changing churches isn’t going to solve the problem if it’s your unredeemed flesh you’re dealing with. Wherever you go, your flesh is still going to be there. You might as well go ahead and stay right where you are and learn to bring it in subjection to your recreated spirit.
Some things that folks attribute to the devil are really nothing more than works of the flesh. It is important to realize that everything that’s wrong in life is not directly the work of an evil spirit. When the Bible talks about keeping the flesh under the dominion of the spirit, too many times folks think that only refers to keeping sexual desires under control. Well, it’s true you’ll have to keep your body under subjection in that area. But right on the other hand, did you ever notice what else the Bible lists as works of the flesh or the old man nature? The Works of the Flesh Galatians chapter 5 lists the works of the flesh. GALATIANS 5:17,19-21 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would…. 19 Now the WORKS OF THE FLESH are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like What many folks call works of “the devil,” the Bible calls the works of the flesh. In Ephesians 4:25-32, Paul lists some of the traits of the “old man”—the flesh or man’s unregenerated nature: lying, stealing, corrupt communication, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking, and malice. And he also describes some of the traits of the new man in Christ: truthfulness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness. You can see that keeping the flesh under control or under the dominion of the new man in Christ involves more than just keeping sexual desires under control. It involves keeping all the evil tendencies of the flesh in check and under the dominion of the recreated spirit. ‘Put Off’ the Flesh The Bible tells us how to deal with the body and soul—man’s carnal, fleshly nature. We are to “put off” the old man with his fleshly lusts. And we are to “put on” the new man in Christ. EPHESIANS 4:22-24 22 THAT YE PUT OFF concerning the former conversation [lifestyle] THE OLD MAN, which is corrupt according to the DECEITFUL LUSTS; 23 And [you] be RENEWED in the spirit of your MIND; 24 And that YE PUT ON THE NEW MAN, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Who is to put off the nature of the old man or the works of the flesh? You are! “You” is the subject of verse 22. God is not going to “put off the old man” for you. You will have to put off the old man with his envy, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking. You aren’t dealing with evil spirits when you put off those evil tendencies; you are just dealing with your flesh. All too often believers try to take the easy way out and call these evil tendencies of the flesh a “demon” or an “evil spirit.” That way they don’t have any responsibility; they can blame everything on Satan. But the Bible just calls these evil tendencies man’s fleshly nature, and the believer has to do something about that himself. The only way you can put on “the new man” is to renew your mind with the Word of God. Putting off the old man and putting on the new man is part of your “reasonable service” or your “spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1,2). You’ve got to keep those evil tendencies and attitudes under the dominion of your spirit—the man on the inside—and let the new creature in Christ dominate. As you “put on” Christ you’ll be able to walk in the Spirit of God and not in the flesh where you are an easy prey for Satan. If you didn’t have your flesh and its carnal nature to deal with, you wouldn’t be human. And as long as you’re in your body, you will have your fleshly, carnal nature to contend with. For example, if someone hits you and your flesh isn’t in subjection to your spirit, it will want to retaliate and hit him back. That’s the way the carnal nature acts apart from God. If someone hurts you, your flesh wants to get even and retaliate and hold bitterness and resentment against the person. That’s the old “get-even” nature of the flesh. It’s not a devil or demonic activity. It’s just the carnal nature of man left unchecked. “You hurt me and I’ll get even with you.” Have you ever heard Christians talk that way? Flesh is just that way, and that’s why you’ve got to keep it under the dominion of the man on the inside “…
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