One of the best ways to grow spiritually is to stop indulging the flesh.
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men…for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not mere men? (1 Corinthians 3:1-4)
It sounds like the church in Corinth struggled primarily with envy, offense, and division (putting more emphasis on earthly leaders than Jesus Himself). But whatever our personal battles, when we get rid of the things of the flesh, we have more room in us for things of the Spirit. We also clear ourselves of the ‘static’ of the world, so that we can better focus on God and His voice.
So how do we get rid of the stubborn parts of our flesh?
- We continually make an active choice in our hearts to submit to God and war against our flesh (through prayer, deliberate choice, and maybe even the intervention of other Christians)—the point isn’t whether we are initially successful, but that we earnestly and diligently desire righteousness
- We stop feeding our lusts by choosing not to do, watch, read or listen to the “permissible” things that are preventing us from fully focusing on the Lord
- We welcome the conviction of the Holy Spirit and desire to work out our salvation with fear and trembling through repentance
- In fact, we ask the Lord to search our hearts, that we may be purified–as we repent–of hidden fleshly desires
- We abide in His Word and immerse ourselves in His truth so that we continue to grow in righteous qualities (2 Peter 1:5-8)
In my own life, I’ve found that the more I pursue the Lord and consider Him in my everyday choices, the freer I become and the easier it is to walk more in His Spirit and less in my flesh. Jesus’ grace gives us the power to choose righteousness, so let’s discipline our bodies and lay aside every encumbrance that we may effectively run the race set before us (1 Cor 9:24-27, Heb 12:1-2).