When we think about crucifying “fleshly desires” we often cringe. But have you ever prayed to be closer to God? I have. What we probably mean by that is desiring to become more spiritually mature.
I think God is going to answer that prayer whether we’ve prayed it or not because He is bringing us through a process of sanctification (Philippians 1:6). He’s working to refine us, to free us from impurities. He’s freeing us from the sins that are in our heart, making us more holy as He is holy.
And while He does that, He will allow opportunities to come into our day to see if we’ll respond by doing the Word, choosing to love, and obeying Him.
Some days will seem worse than others. Problems will visit—some might even move in. If I’m having trouble, first I can go into warfare and command any devil bothering me to leave. But after that? I could cast out devils all I want, but if I’m still giving into my fleshly desires I’ll still be in hot water.
Mama always told me that you can’t cast out the flesh; it needs to be crucified.
What do I mean? Let me begin by sharing a few verses.*
What Does the Bible Say About Crucifying Fleshly Desires?
The Bible is for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). It admonishes us to dig deep and deny ourselves of fleshly tendencies. Check out these passages:
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24 ESV
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23 ESV
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:13 ESV
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5 ESV
Why Should We Crucify Fleshly Desires?
Reason #1—Less Headaches Later
Remember that time-consuming, overwhelming homeschool organizational project that I procrastinated for years? Right. You don’t. Because I didn’t want to do it, I pushed it out of my head. So I didn’t talk about it to anyone.
When I finally began tackling the dreaded, yet necessary project, I noticed a recurring sound—me groaning in regret for letting it pile up. The molehill had definitely turned into a mountain this time.
In hindsight, I noticed several reasons it would have been more helpful to just deal with it. But I was lazy about it. Sometimes I’m the same way when it comes to dealing with my flesh. I want to deal with my issues now because that means I’ll have less headaches later. If I’m always walking in anger, or lust, or pride, it’s just going to get worse.
Reason #2—More Joy
Have you ever been scrolling through social media when life is good, and you come across a verse like “love is patient; love is kind”? It’s easy to click “like” on days like that. But what about when that family member rubbed you the wrong way? (Let’s be real here.) What about when you’re still giving into your fleshly desires, completely “fleshing out”?
James says to count it all joy when you come into various trials. Why should I be joyful when I’m meeting all kinds of trouble? When I’m tempted to be impatient or irritable with my family? If I’m jealous of the other person? When pride rises?
Because God is working on ME.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 ESV
The word perfect in the Greek is referring to spiritual maturity. God is causing me to grow spiritually and that gives me joy!
Reason #3—I Can Help Others
My life is an example to everyone around me. They notice how I respond to life’s problems or if I give into temptation.
If I’m spiritually immature, I’m giving into my old nature instead of walking in my new nature. And that’s going to negatively affect and hurt the people around me.
If I am in the habit of crucifying my fleshly desires, that means I’m going to walk in the Spirit instead of my flesh. That means I’m not going to let sin have it’s way in me, but retrain my thinking according to the Word of God.
When I do that, I grow spiritually.
It’s the same for any follower of Jesus. Those who are becoming more spiritually mature are looking more like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). Then others see Jesus in us. That’s going to be a good example. And that’s going to help others.
Nobody ever said it was easy! But having less headaches later, having more joy, and being able to help someone else all seem like good reasons to crucify fleshly desires to me!
What are other reasons to crucify the flesh?
You can't cast out the flesh; it needs to be crucified.Click To Tweet
In this post we talked about why it’s good to crucify fleshly desires. If you want to know how, check out A Process for Overcoming Weakness.
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