“Death to the Flesh!”

I am currently on furlough in Musoma. At the same time there is a brother from the church in Dar es Salaam who is on leave and, having visited us here, he is keeping me company in my house. We share many stories with Director (that is his real name) particularly in the evenings when we are alone together. Recently, he told me an incident concerning an anthill that he witnessed when he was a small child. He says there was an anthill on their farm and his father thought that it was drying up the crops. He therefore ordered his elder sons to flatten it. They did so but within a week it was back again, big as ever. They flattened it again, but within no time the ants had built it up again exactly as it was before.

One day their grandmother saw them digging up the anthill. She had seen them dig up the anthill again and again without success. On that particular day she called out to the young men: “That anthill will never go away until you dig up and kill their queen!”

The boys seemed to understand her meaning and the next day they attacked the anthill in earnest. It took them two days to excavate the entire anthill. They dug until they reached far down where they found the ant ‘queen’ whom they brought up and laid out in the sun to dry. All the young children, Director included, came to watch the big, fat, shiny object as it lay writhing on the bare ground.

“It was the ugliest thing I ever saw”, concluded Director.

Which brings us to the subject of the flesh. The flesh may appear beautiful and desirable to the natural eye, but in the spirit it is the ugliest thing. Not only so, but it is a silent killer. The flesh will have you hollering “Hallelujah!”, but you are an empty shell on the inside, full of every kind of wickedness. And, as with the ant ‘queen’ it is hidden far deep within us. Comfortably wrapped up in a cloak of religious ‘holiness’ we are hardly likely to realize it when we are walking in the flesh. It requires a revelation from God and a deep work of some sort to uproot it from our system. The bottom line is that there is no way to arrive at true spiritual victory without dealing permanently with the flesh.

That is why we need a spiritual understanding of the Cross of Jesus. Let us see what the Apostle Peter has to say in 1 Peter:

Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” 1:11

“But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 4:13

“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed” 5:1

Peter talks a lot about suffering in these verses. Suffering is a word we would rather not hear. And yet, a revelation of the Church is a revelation of the Cross of Christ, which in turn points to the sufferings of Christ – and His death. All the men and women whom the Lord used throughout history to bring out His purpose in the Spirit were men and women who saw and experienced the sufferings of Christ in one way or another. Our father, Abraham, obtained his son Isaac when he was “as good as dead” Heb. 11:12. God went beyond there and demanded that Abraham sacrifice Isaac on the altar.

Many of the apostles died in martyrdom. They should have retired with great honor and better ‘benefits’, but they expired in ignominy.

The Bible, however, states that these men experienced a far greater glory in the eternal Kingdom by going through these experiences.

These are things that the Church today ought to consider very carefully. The Church should consider the role of the Cross in their lives. Logically speaking, if there is no revelation of the Cross in our lives, then we might as well forget the life of Christ springing forth from us. Yes, we will still be Christians, but carnal ones.

Nowadays you hear self-styled prophets ‘prophesying’ about this and that successful venture over hapless Christians. These are false apostles, men who answer to the call of the flesh. That is why there are so many manifestations of the flesh – and even demonic ones – in the Church today!

The true ministries of Christ will confront and uproot completely the flesh and all its works in the Church. We need to arrive at the place where we have truly died with Christ (Col.2:20); a place where, since we are still living in this sinful world, of necessity death is daily working in us (1 Cor. 15:31) to bring out that Christ-like character (Php 3:11) that caused the early saints to be called Christians by the Antiochians.

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5 thoughts on ““Death to the Flesh!”

  1. Sometimes I forget the worth of my suffering and get all caught up in the pain not realizing the glory that awaits. Thank you for this reminder, dear brother.

  2. Great post! But I wonder (as you mentioned above) if there really is such a thing as a carnal Christian. It sounds like an oxymoron. I understand that Christians can still struggle with the flesh, but it no longer has dominion over them. I’ve heard the term before, but I cringe when I hear it. Sadly, many have abused it by living a sinful life while claiming the name of Christ.

    • If I may, I will add my two cents about “carnal Christians” :”All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:23, 24 NIV
      Paul also said: “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do? this I keep on doing. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Romans 7:19 & 24 *NIV
      My understanding of our carnal selves comes entirely from the book of Romans when Paul addresses this specifically. Yes, we are all carnal and we stumble even in our righteousness. Because the fall of mankind we will struggle with sin in this flesh. We cannot get away from it until we die but while we are here we can call on God to overcome the obstacles before us. Some of us fail in that regard but thank God for His wonderful grace we are not condemned because of it. In fact, it is because of that grace that our gratitude is shown in the way that we TRY(operative word, here) to live. I love the entire book of Romans because it explains it all so well….this carnal way….this sinful way…that is my weakness, not my excuse…because my heart wants to do good. I am aware of my sins so I can be forgiven of my sins. I love Jesus so very much because I am made whole in God’s sight through the blood of Christ. I hope this helps with the “oxymoron” of “carnal Christian”…I hope I haven’t stepped out of line addressing this for Especially Made. God bless the reader. I am just a struggling sinner passing through.

    • In 1 Cor. 3 Paul uses the term ‘carnal’ to describe Christians who are walking after the flesh. They are Christians all right, but they have not allowed a transformation to take place in their lives and they carry all these offshoots of the flesh. We all do, of course, but the key is to catch the revelation of the Cross. When you are on that foundation death to the flesh will begin and we will witness spiritual growth in our lives. The Christian calling is a very high calling and we cannot boast until we arrive at the place of total crucifixion of the flesh. That is why we cannot take lightly the revelation (or spiritual understanding) of the Cross in our lives.

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