An Examination: The Flesh
Today, we will explore how the “sins of the flesh” affect our hearts, our freedom and our holy desires. A heart that is bound to the flesh unknowingly becomes a slave to the comforts of this world. The issue is with man ‘in himself’. He sways to what is convenient, comfortable and feels good. The spirit may be willing, but the flesh is weak. In this case, the holy desires which God places in the heart are not taken away altogether, but are left unfulfilled like a star athlete who squanders his talents.
Recall the parable of the Sower and the Seed, considering the seed that fell upon the rocky path, “where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away” (Matthew 13:5-6). Christ himself gives us the interpretation, “...this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away” (Matthew 13:20-21).
We will be initiating a series of examinations of conscience, beginning with the sins of the flesh. Be honest and authentic; no fronts or masks. Keep in mind that God already knows your heart as well as all the answers.
Do I have significant problems with sins of the flesh? Do I struggle with lust, wrath, gluttony or sloth? Some of them? All of them? Take a moment to sit quietly and reflect.
Are sins of the flesh your Pharaoh? Is it one or more specifically within this section: lust, wrath, gluttony, or sloth? If you have discovered your Pharaoh, your source of bondage, name it. Renounce it. As a proactive step, plan to get to confession and begin the process of freedom.
Sometimes after we complete an examination of conscience, like Adam, we are tempted to hide in our shame; or like King David, we selfishly seek to hide or cover up our sin. When we’re exposed like Adam, who was naked before both God and Eve, we sometimes attempt to hide from others (fig leaves) and even vainly venture to hide from God (see Gen 3:8).
The good news is immediately after Adam sinned (in the very next verse) the Lord was already pursuing, “But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” (Gen 3:9). God already knew where Adam was hiding, but in his gentleness, he allowed him to come out of hiding on his own. It’s a recurring theme, right? God grants us the freedom to come out or continue to remain in bondage and shame.
The Lord is calling you. He is asking you. He is pursuing you in this very moment:
“Where are you? Where is your heart? I love you. I am close to you even in your sin. You may run and hide from me but I will never run from you. You may be weary of your sinfulness but I will never grow weary. You may be lost but you can be found. You may be blind but I can give you new sight. Your heart may be wounded but I have come to heal and restore. I have already taken your sin and shame and obliterated it. I have come to set your heart free. I have come to give you a new heart. I have come to give you my heart. My light will shine through your wounds. Will you trust me? Will you enter into my heart? Do you love me?”
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