20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” (Mark 7:20–23, NKJV)
Billions of people do not regard sin as sin. That word has been all but stricken from the lexicons of languages around the world. What Jesus said here reminds us that we are dual beings, made of both flesh and spirit; both mortal and immortal. The inner person – the person possessing identity, volition, conscience, intelligence and emotions – is identified as the heart, from which comes our words and actions. Jesus identified sexual immorality of all sorts (including adultery, homosexuality and premarital sex) as sin that comes from the heart. Oppression of one’s neighbor, whether by murder, thievery, covetousness or deceit, is also sinful. See how pride is considered evil along with all the rest. Sin is real, and we must define sin the way Jesus does. If not, we will likely call evil good, and good evil (Isa. 5:20). “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).
1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1–2, NKJV)
Christ suffered for us; “the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18). His suffering in the flesh compels Christians to equip ourselves with His mind or attitude; the decision to do good and, if need be, “to suffer for doing good” (1 Pet. 3:17; 4:1). Contrary to the “health and wealth gospel” taught by false teachers, being a Christian does not free one from suffering. The devoted Christian accepts a life of suffering for doing the will of God. In verse two, Peter says such suffering includes no longer living to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Our devotion is to the will of God. Even when your former companions in sin think you are odd, and speak evil of you for no longer joining them in sin, remember that you have “ceased from sin” and cannot continue to practice it (1 Pet. 4:3-4, 1). Peer pressure is powerful, but we must see it for what it is; the attempt of sinful people to draw us into sinning along with them. Resist. Suffer (when it comes to that). Live for the will of God. Do not live for the lusts of men.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:14, NKJV)
Having already told Christians to wake up and clean up, the apostle now tells us to grow up (Rom. 13:11-13). While it is true we put on Christ when we “first believed” (when we were baptized into Christ, Gal. 3:27), we must continue to clothe ourselves with the Lord. Successful godly living requires spiritual growth in order to make decisions that glorify God and avoid sin. If we fail to grow up in Christ it will become easier to provide for sin. Do not plan to sin. Guard your heart against lustful thinking and cast off the darkness that gives occasion to fulfilling sinful desires. Starve the flesh of sinful lusts; put it to death. Be clothed with the Lord Jesus Christ. Be filled with and comforted by His righteous truth. He abundantly provides all things for life and godliness. Remember, salvation is nearer than when you first believed (Rom. 13:11).
2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:2–4)
The devil tempted Jesus to set fleshly desires as His priority when he urged Jesus to use His power to feed Himself. After all, the Son of God had not eaten in forty days. And, He certainly had the power to command food into existence (as He did when He fed the multitude, Matt. 14:13-21). But, the flesh was not Jesus’ priority; doing the will of God was what sustained Him. He would live by every word of God, and since God did not approve such a selfish use of His power, He would not yield. He refused to choose the flesh over the Father’s will. Likewise, the devil tempts us to live for the flesh. The tempter says, “The desires of the flesh are natural, so why deprive yourself of satisfaction?” But, God says to feed on His word and not upon fleshly lust. To yield is to make the flesh your priority instead of God. Children of God must love the Father, not the flesh. Resist the temptations of the flesh and live by faith (1 Jno. 2:15-17).