“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” (Rom. 8:5)
“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Rom. 7:24)
Perhaps you have heard the old Cherokee parable about the grandfather who was telling his grandson that two wolves lived within him. He went on to describe the two wolves: “It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil–he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He went on: “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. “
The grandson then asked, “Which wolf wins?” The grandfather replied simply, “The one I feed.”
Admit it! It’s maddening! Although we know we have been freed from the penalty of sin through Jesus’ blood, we are also painfully aware that we still deal with the power of sin over these weak bodies daily. Yes, the flesh is weak. Jesus said as much to His disciples when he found them sleeping in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:41).
Even the apostle Paul cried out for relief and called himself “wretched.” (scripture above) If the apostle can admit his weakness, I think it is safe for you and me to come clean per 1 John 1:8.
WHAT TO DO? We know what is spiritual – that which feeds the good wolf – but we often find ourselves starving him through everything from mild distraction to deliberate sin and end up feeding the bad wolf. Surely there is help in the scripture for this exasperating problem.
Answer: YES, THERE IS!
The Bible describes this process of feeding the spirit as a kind of dying. Dying to self. Dying to the flesh. It begins by giving no occasion to the flesh.
If you were a recovering alcoholic, would it make sense to keep liquor handy in your house? If you were addicted to porn, would it be helpful for you to have porn sites bookmarked on your browser? If you were struggling with gluttony, would it be prudent for you to keep 3 dozen jelly donuts on hand ? And, if your “friends” were a large part of the problem that led you into this particular sin in the first place, would it be wise to continue to associate with them? The answer to these rhetorical questions is obvious.
Yes, it is a constant struggle against the weaknesses and proclivities of the flesh. But, what did Jesus say to Peter when He found him sleeping? Simply this. “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” That is good advice for all of us who still struggle with the two wolves. The good news is that, for those who are born again, the good wolf is stronger (1 John 4:4).
My prayer today is that, when my willful flesh makes persistent demands on me, I will remember that it won’t kill me to die to self. Choose life!