In all of us lies a passion to do good and a lust to do whatever “feels good” in the moment. I know this all too well. I live it every day, and I am shocked with how difficult and constant the battle is. You see, I became a Christian when I was 18 years old. I will never forget the feeling when the unconditional love of God flooded my heart when I submitted my life to Jesus in my barracks room in Pensacola, FL. I was shocked that even though I had done so much evil in my life God could still forgive and love me. It literally changed everything in my life.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
I remember the rest of that day like it was yesterday. I felt untouchable. There was no way I would ever do anything evil again! I was so full of love, hope, forgiveness and mercy that I knew nothing would ever stop me again. I knew no drug, no drink, no lustful action, no temptation would satisfy like the love of Jesus I felt in my heart…I knew I had been set free.
“So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”John 8:36 (NLT)
It was amazing, but unfortunately that high lasted about a week. Then one morning I woke up and realized there was something still alive in me, something that craved the lusts that I used to live in… I couldn’t believe it, I had no idea what was happening, and I had no idea how to fight it.
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”Galatians 5:16-17 (NIV)
I will never forget hearing this scripture read in a men’s Bible study for the first time. It had to have been months after I realized there was a hungry beast inside of me that was not hungry for anything the Bible talked about. It was hungry for everything I had before I was a Christian. But this verse brought me so much peace, I felt normal. But at the same time frustrated with God. I felt normal because I realized I wasn’t the only one in this struggle, I knew the men I was with struggled too, and there is a wonderful peace knowing you’re not alone in a battle. I felt frustrated because I was questioning God’s plan for the redemption of humanity. I kept thinking, “Why on earth would God leave these desires alive in me when He knows, if fed, they could destroy my life?”
“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”Romans 8:6 (NLT)
Over time I started to realize the beauty in God’s plan. I started to realize that He wants me to depend on His strength and not my own, every day. He wants a personal relationship with me where I give Him the respect He deserves, by depending on His ability and not my own. The more I walk in this, the more joy and strength I have, the more intimacy with the Lord I have, and the more productive I am with the calling He has given me on this Earth. But I have to be honest, even though I know how to fight now, and I understand the war inside, I still struggle with the desire to let my life be governed by the desires of my flesh, instead of the Spirit.
There is one side of me that is joyful, encouraging, and loves people; then there’s a side of me that loves praise, gets frustrated with people easily, and wants to take the glory for everything “I” accomplish. Ugh!! The struggle is real… And the victory in each day comes down to what I sow seeds into. I want to share three tips with you that I use to help feed the Spirit and starve my flesh:
Since I know the beast of my flesh wants praise, I beat it to the punch. I look for ways to give praise to others. I start this with time on my knees in the morning giving praise to God for sending His son to live and die to save sinners like me. I have nothing good in my life is because of “me”, it’s by His grace, I strive to show God that respect every morning whether I feel like it or not. Then I look for opportunities to praise others throughout the day. This helps keep the attention off of me and it starves my desire to be praised – because it’s always there, waiting to be fed.
I could write all day on this one. I love speaking and teaching on controlling your mind by submitting to the Spirit, but this verse summarizes it better than I could ever explain it. I work to live this, and it helps me keep evil and lustful thoughts out of my mind. We need to guard what we look at and think about with a high level of vigilance. I’m going to do a future blog on the impact this has on the brain, but for now, commit to putting this scripture into practice daily.
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”Philippians 4:8 (The Message)
I’m sure we’ve all heard the quote that Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I believe this is something we have to remember daily. If we want to be trained in Godliness (I pray we all do), then we have to train. There are no shortcuts, we have got to practice. And if you have ever played sports you know the practices are not the glamorous times, but they are hands down the most important times of any team or athlete. So look at every time you pray, every time you forgive a person and pray for them, every time you control your mind from thinking lustful thoughts and focus on purity, even every time you pick a healthy meal over a meal that will bring instant gratification to the desires of your flesh, as practicing for the big game. Because when it’s game time, and no matter who you are, prepared or not, in life, game time is coming.
So let’s train our minds to practice holiness in Christ, and RUN from the lusts of our flesh. I pray we all do this together, and if you’re a man and you want a push to the next level, commit today to join the Gibborim. Sign up at gibborim.com/join and we’ll email you an invite code for the members-only app.
Here’s to living the life God longs for us to live! I hope this blog blesses your day, if it did, please share it to help spread the word. Thank you!
Cody Bobay, CEO of Gibborim Studios