How does a Christian learn how to no longer be in subjection to the cravings and desires of their flesh?

Social IssuesSexuality

  • Author James Rondinone
  • Published January 17, 2023
  • Word count 1,651

PART 9 TESTIMONY

How Do Christians Learn to No Longer Be in Subjection to the Cravings and Desires of Their Flesh?

The person we had been referencing in the article had some spiritual avenues at his disposal. In my hometown, every so often, on a Saturday night on GOD TV, there would be a broadcast of worship, praise, and teaching service from the same church that this person was affiliated with. The staging area would be set up for many musicians to perform. The words from the songs were uplifting and impactful. In some cases, this was followed by a guest speaker, each of whom had a message that was unique and anointed. And then there was the presentation of the gospel to which many unbelievers responded.

I’m unaware of what else was going on for the rest of the week in the church assembly. In this instance, I would assume there were some outreaches and other worship, praise, and teaching services held throughout the week. Might there possibly be Bible studies available? So, here is my point. I have to believe that this church also had its own people in leadership to teach on the various doctrines of the faith, i.e., eternal security, redemption, sanctification, giving financially, eternal rewards, etc.

    

And besides learning about the tenets of the Christian faith, what else is extremely important is learning how to address the weaknesses and strengths of our sin nature. 

It appears that this might have been attempted to be handled according to some of the declarations from the article entitled, “Sex Abuse & Gay Conversion Therapy: The Dark Past of Justin Bieber’s Megachurch Hillsong” that we have mentioned on a couple of occasions. Here is some of what was said in relation to addressing gay behavior. Alex, a former member of this church, quit after a traumatic coming out where he said he was referred to his youth pastor to counseling that proposed to make him straight – the kind of conversion we now know is based on pseudoscience.112

I have never heard of pseudoscience, but what I do know is at salvation, we are made new creatures. However, the experiential realization of this positional reality (as God sees us as being a finished product) is a process. I admit that trying to grasp this and see it coming to fruition in our own lives is mysterious and painful at times. After I got saved, I still attended nightclubs, got drunk, looked for girls, said swear words, smoked cigarettes, had violent tendencies, harbored impure thoughts about others, had fears of speaking in front of people, had pornographic inclinations, and had a very bad view of myself, but the one thing I knew beyond a shadow of doubt was that God had come into my life! However, in my experience, I was an extreme mess.

How could I possibly learn how to be an overcomer in all or any of these areas of weakness?

Like this fellow believer, God provided me with spiritual guidance to attend a particular church, which likewise had a music ministry along with worship, praise, and teaching at least three times a week. It was connected to a headquarters facility located not too far away from the branch ministry I was attending. The headquarters provided live radio broadcasts Monday through Friday, varying educational degrees in Christian ministry, street witnessing outreach, a monthly newsletter, and if a branch church put in a request for a guest speaker, usually this would be granted. I loved this church. The teachings were anointed with God’s saturating presence. I was learning about my new faith. But I still had issues with the inclinations and passions of my sin nature. Old ways of thinking, feeling, speaking, and in some cases, acting remained the same. I needed a heavenly life raft.

Then, one day something dawned on me. As I listened to the pastor of the branch ministry speak, one thing that resonated with me was his expansive knowledge about who he was in Christ, as evidenced in his command of bringing forth pertinent Scripture after Scripture from his tongue without looking in the Bible. And there it was all along. The solution for my many issues was to learn, memorize, meditate, and apply God’s Word concerning each and every area of weakness of my sin nature.

And along with this, there was something else I had learned. Whenever I thought about myself, others, or the circumstances of life from a human perspective, I would lose the presence of God permeating my life. There were many times when I would hear anointed music and messages under the power of the Holy Spirit, and I was unable to be impacted by His individual and corporate ministry because I was operating in the wrong mindset. The following verses illustrate this perfectly.

Romans 8:5-6 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. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

What this tells us [is] that they who live under the influences of the corrupt and sinful desires113 of the sin nature are characterized as being carnally minded, and as such, they focus their thoughts on what their body wants. On the other hand, those who live after the Holy Spirit think about what the Spirit wants, and as [such,] their mind is controlled or dominated by114 Him.                                                  

Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

With these thoughts in mind, we can conclude that if we are carnally minded, i.e., think only about what [our] body wants115, we will experience misery and condemnation. However, if we are spiritually minded, i.e., making His thoughts the object of the mind, the end and aim of the actions, to cultivate the graces of the Spirit, and to submit to His influence; … to seek those feelings and views which the Holy Spirit produces, and to follow His leadings,116 we will experience life (eternal resurrection life; the only path of happiness117) and peace [repose (state of being at rest) and true bliss118].

    

All this sounds great, but how do we cultivate the influences of the Spirit? 

We cultivate His influences by making them the object of our minds. You might be thinking you have some idea of what I mean, but not really. That’s ok. This idea of cultivating the Spirit’s graces is easy to say but not necessarily easy to understand.

    

In respect to the question at hand, how does a Christian learn how to no longer be in subjection to the cravings and desires of their flesh? 

Which grace of the Spirit do you think will help us in this endeavor? There are nine graces of the Spirit per Galatians 5:22-23. Any guesses?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.                                                     

The fruit of the Spirit that will help us is temperance. What is temperance? Temperance means being able to say no to one’s desires.119 It also means to have mastery over one’s desires and impulses.120 Did you hear that? God’s Word says we can have mastery over our desires and impulses, that is, if we want to have mastery over them.

If you keep on referring to yourself by saying, oh, God can’t change me. I am a lying Christian; I am a fornicating Christian; I am an adulterous Christian; I am a gay Christian; etc., and I will never change, then you won’t. You will be a new person in Christ, living as the old person you used to be. Is this how you want to continue to live as a son or daughter of God? If you are not sure whether this is what is going on in your life, then ask yourself these questions.

Do you proclaim that Jesus has changed your life, and yet you exhibit no changes in your behavior?

Do you proclaim that Jesus has changed your life, and yet you express to others, believers and unbelievers, that He condones certain sinful sexual actions?

If the answers are yes and yes, then this question remains to be answered.

Do you really want to exhibit Christ-likeness to others?

    

What is Christ-likeness?

Christ-likeness is operating in the fruit of the Spirit and exhibiting the characteristics of these nine elements toward others while amidst the circumstances of life.

Where you are at right now is where I was years ago in my walk with God, at a crossroads. Do I continue to live to gratify the sinful desires of my sin nature, or do I make the necessary decisions to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in my life? I hope your answer is the latter. If it is, then what I am going to present to you next is what I believe will help you to cultivate the spiritual grace called temperance.

While it’s true that we should learn how to cultivate each of the nine elements, we need to work on them one at a time. And with respect to this study, temperance will be the one we will focus on. Are you ready to embark on making certain decisions that will help you be an overcomer in the area of eros sexual desires or propensities? If so, the next chapter will reveal how to do this.

 

Endnotes

112 Sex Abuse & Gay Conversion Therapy.

113 UBS New Testament.       

114 Weust.

115 UBS New Testament.

116 Barnes’ Notes. 

117 Barnes’ Notes. 

118 Jamieson, Faucet, and Brown Commentary.

119 UBS New Testament.

120 Weust.

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My name is James Rondinone. I am a husband, father, and spiritual leader.

I grew up in Massachusetts and began my own spiritual journey early on in life.

I attended Bible college, having completed a two-year Christian Leadership Course of Study and graduated as valedictorian (Summa Cum Laude).

Studying and teaching the Word of God has been a passion of mine for over 20 years.

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