“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit, think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under control of their sinful nature can never please God.”
A few weeks ago I picked up some food from Bonchon – a Chinese restaurant chain that does their food with a twist. I ordered chicken fried rice and potstickers. The food was excellent! I was savoring more potstickers before I had finished eating the ones right in front of me. The flavor was delicious. Days after I found myself craving the taste of these delicacies and looking for more. In fact, I must confess, they were so good I looked them up on the internet to see if there was any way I could possibly make them.
I ended up telling one of my friends about the potstickers who agreed they were scrumptious. So good that I have thought about going to get some almost every weekend since then. My imagination drifted as I thought about the taste and the flavor that is released when you bite into one of the tasty treats. It almost made me take a trip several miles from my home. However, I resisted the temptation to purchase any more. There was one reality that I could not get beyond-they were fried. Fried foods don’t really stick (no pun intended) so well with me. I knew the temporary satisfaction of those delightful, little things would cost me in the long run. Don’t get me wrong they were truly delightful but the feeling I had after eating the sixth one, wasn’t. I had to make a decision beyond my feelings to deny the thought.
The potstickers were a reminder of just how we treat sin or bad behavior at times. There are times when I have self-control and want to do the right thing, recognizing the benefits will be worth it. And there are times when I have partaken in the temptation knowing that I should not due to how I will feel afterwards. You see we have two natures, sinful and Holy- which controls us? Just like my urge for potstickers -we must watch what we intake and how that can control us. There is nothing wrong with liking good food but if the food is not good for my system- do I have enough control to say “No” because of the effects it will have on me after the moment of satisfaction. The ultimate question is, “Am I able to overcome what I want for the moment for long term consequences?”
Paul presents it in a way that it gives us the choice that we must decide what is most important to us, flesh or Spirit man? Just as our Heavenly Father is a gentleman and He will not violate our will but gives us the onus to decide, we make a choice to submit to the flesh (even if for the moment the choice may be satisfying) but in the end what will be the long term effects.
“The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”(Romans 6:23)
This lets us know there are consequences to our choices- so we must watch what we take in. I love good food but if I know the effects of that food on me and I still decide to take it in, then what happens after that is on me. Perhaps you too enjoy good food, maybe not pot stickers- yours may be pork, chicken, sweets or maybe other weaknesses, such as pornography, gossip, illicit relationships, drug use, alcohol; all things that gratify the flesh for the moment but lead to bad consequences.
So I think there are a few things we can do to help with what we take in. The first thing is submitting our mind to the control of the Holy Spirit. This is important because just as anything else we do if we are not completely surrendered to God then we have kept ourselves on the throne. This all comes down to relinquishing control of our inner man, Spirit man and the flesh. James 4:7 reads, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” The scripture says submit yourselves-that means it is something that we have to do, no one can do this for us. The act of submission means to lay down. We must lay down our mind and control to something greater than us. Just like in the example of the potstickers I had to convince my mind that they were not in my best interest to continue taking in. We must make the same decision with sin and the fleshly nature by bringing our mind under submission.
The second thing is be careful what you expose yourself too. Somethings you just need to not touch, taste or even see because exposure can be detrimental. We must guard ourselves from certain things. If I know that I am trying to change eating habits I cannot go down the chip and cookies aisle in the grocery store. We have to avoid certain things. 1 Corinthians 10:13:
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
Recognize those things or situations that bring us trouble. The Holy Spirit will remind us and even warn us of danger or things to avoid. I’m so thankful for an advocate that looks out for and reaffirms us so to keep us from taking in those things that are detrimental.
Be mindful of what you “take-in” and you will not have to be concerned with certain consequences.