Don’t Put Your Confidence in the Flesh

“Your flesh will get you in trouble!” As a teenager growing up in the south, this is something my grandmother said often. A Christian woman with high morals and a keen sense about people, my grandmother professed that she could smell when any of us were walking around with mischievous intentions. Her warning that our flesh would get us into trouble often went on deaf ears. Although we didn’t quite understand what all this talk about the flesh meant, we knew that she could see right through us. Consequences didn’t cross our minds, and during the times of our youthful lusts, we deemed the trouble we’d invite more enjoyable than any punishment for its deed; that was rarely the case.

As we mature, we learn that the consequences we face in life can indeed be brutal. They deter us from what we desire most, cause us to struggle, bring strife into our lives, and most dreadfully, they injure our relationships with God. Consequences cause us to lose time, momentum, and stamina on this journey of life. We miss opportunities for promotion and advancement, and sometimes go around in circles because we don’t learn the lessons of our missteps, hiccups, and mistakes. We would do well to remember that momentum and stamina we can often regain, but time is lost forever. Time is a very valuable commodity, and God commands us in Colossians 4:5 to make the most of every opportunity by using our time wisely.

Most of us think that the way to make the most of our lives and to maximize our time on earth is to focus on our own efforts and ability. We might use trendy gimmicks and trust that physical strength and mental resources are the key to success. This works for worldly pursuits, especially in business, but the pay-off is much less than optimum. When the root of our motivation and effort isn’t anchored in the Spirit, nothing is added to the benefit of our souls.

Galatians 5:16(NIV) tells us, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” To walk by the Spirit is to be led by God’s Spirit. This means that we must seek Him first before we make decisions and choices in life. Proverbs 3:5-6(NLT) tells us, “5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Not only does God show us what path to take, but He gives us the strength, wisdom, and authority to follow the path to His blessings.

Society teaches us to do the exact opposite of this. It teaches us to depend on the resources of human effort and on individuals that think they are the preeminent authority on humanity and its problems. This is what most of us learn to do because we were born into a sinful world. We learn to set whatever goals we have a mind to do, because we are taught that we can achieve anything we desire. Our purpose in God’s Will and Plan never enters this equation, because again, the world tells us to focus on human effort and it doesn’t teach us to walk by God’s Spirit.

Through disappointments and setbacks, most of us learn fairly quickly that we can’t do whatever we want, and some of our goals fall by the wayside. This is because the component we miss is the practice of checking in with what the Lord requires us to do. This should be the priority. Any time that we take matters into our own hands without consulting God, we’re placing our confidence in the flesh. Walking in the Spirit means that our motivation is to please God. Philippians 3:3(NLT) tells us, “For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort.” God is the One that has empowered us to do anything and everything we are blessed to enjoy each day. Each of us is alive at this very moment only because He has allowed it. He is the reason we exist, and Acts 17:28 declares that it is only in Him that we live, move, and have our being.

God doesn’t fellowship with our flesh; He fellowships with our spirits through His Holy Spirit. Sin cannot touch the Father because He is holy. He has set us apart as His holy people, and we must trust in the leadership and guidance of His Spirit. Jesus Christ affirmed in John 4:23(NLT), “But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.” Life on earth is training ground for decreasing in the flesh and increasing in God’s Spirit. This is our privilege and responsibility as His children.

We must stop looking for happiness from pleasures that only benefit this temporary housing that we refer to as our earthly bodies. Our joy is in the Spirit and walking by the Spirit means that we seek God first for healing, fulfillment, wisdom, provision, protection, and care. This doesn’t mean that we can’t be helped by other people. God blesses us through others, and this cannot be denied, but our responsibility is to allow God to lead us to the who, what, when, and where. He always knows what is best for us. He instructs us in Proverbs 3:7-8(NLT), “7 Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil. 8 Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.”

God has empowered us through Jesus Christ to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. This is the greatest thing in all of eternity that any of us could ever hope to do. Operating in the flesh is the way we used to occupy our time. The Lord tells us in Romans 8:7(NIV) that this flesh-oriented mindset is an enemy to Him. This verse states, “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” This isn’t what we want. Through Jesus Christ, we have received a new nature. We must make a shift in our minds so that all day long, we’re in the higher place of peace and authority because our thoughts are in line with the mind of Christ. As God’s set-apart ones, we are being perfected in Christ, and every day we should be committed to put on more of him so that we grow in the Spirit and depend less on the flesh.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

“Don’t Put Your Confidence in the Flesh”, written for Copyright© 2023. All rights reserved. All praise and honor to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

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