The Seven Enemies of the Flesh
This study will take a lesson from the Biblical book of Joshua as it concerns taking possession of the land and conquering the enemies in it in order to do so. Joshua in this case, as it relates to our spiritual life/land and territory, pictures for us Jesus our savior, commander, and chief. The enemies that are confronted will expose the real foes that lie within us as we attempt to give Christ all the territory of our lives. The enemies in Joshua are named and will help us to identify them as well as overcome them.
A warning the Lord gave His children concerning their conquering was this.
"if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell".
— Numbers 33:55
This works for us as well, in that, what we choose to tolerate in our self-indulged flesh will become these very things to us in our Christian walk and lives. This gives us a lesson to have no mercy on ugly fleshy, strongholds of attitude and behavior.
Laying the Foundation
Before we begin this lesson I would like to lay a foundation of understanding that will assist us in comprehending the Old Testament lesson imaged for us in the conquering of territory, and overcoming enemies, as it applies to our Christian walk and life.
whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope
— Romans 15:4
Many dismiss the Old Testament as irrelevant and of no application but Paul tells us otherwise in his first letter to the Corinthians.
Now all these things (Old Testament events) happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come
— I Corinthians 10:11
The Old Testament gives us stunning imagery in a physical example of spiritual realities and truths that are timeless and applicable.
In terms of this lesson let us first understand that our enemies are not people. In chapter 6 of Ephesians Paul explains that the New Testament battle is more realistically with that which has dominion over us and over others.
He also reveals that the territory of this battle as being a heavenly/spiritual one rather than physical, and teaches in chapter 5 of Ephesians that the way to give God dominion in us, is through submission to Him in all of these areas of relationship and living. He reminds us that...
we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
— Ephesians 6:12
Our enemies (our own flesh and the devil's kingdom) gain dominion in the territory of our lives, attitudes, and actions, through our submission to our own selfishness, unbelief, and pride under which all flesh is categorized
the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life
— I John 2:16
Three Main Venues of Flesh
it was through these three main venues that Eve succumbed to the temptation of the serpent according to Genesis chapter three. Although the serpent issued the temptations. It was her own appetite, unbelief, and, pride that led her astray. James informs us that...
each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed
— James 1:14
1. The fall began when...
the woman saw that the tree was good for food (Lust of the flesh— Appetite)...
The truth is...
You (God) open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing
— Psalm 145:16
Compare this with the first temptation Jesus experienced in the throes of a ravaging 40-day hunger.
"command that these stones become bread"
— Matthew 4:3
“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
— Matthew 4
He conquered the flesh that always conjures up a fantasy and illusion of satisfactions that require nothing of us. Eve stood in the midst of all provision and chose something else. Christ stood in the midst of nothing and maintained loyalty to God with the true understanding of what life and satisfaction really are.
2. After consulting her appetite alone, she concluded that the tree was also
pleasant to the eyes (Lust of the eyes—unbelief in that she saw what God had offered)
— Genesis 3
The truth is...
we walk by faith, not by sight
— II Corinthians 5;7
because we know that...
faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen
— Hebrews 11:1
God's provisions are full of substance and are more real than the physical that we see. There is no true reality or true substance to anything apart from God.
It is also interesting to note that the order of God's provision was changed in Eve's surmising. God's original order was sight an image of faith then provision.
the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food
— Genesis 2:9
Appetite was second to faith and vision in God's account. When appetite is first it sincerely skews our vision and our faith. Appetites, put first, actually make us blind to God's provision.
whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe
— II Corinthians 4:4
Jesus second temptation in Matthew was...
throw Yourself down For it is written ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
— Matthew 4:6
“It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’
— Matthew 4:7
The quote that Jesus used here was in reference to an Old Testament incident that happened at the waters of Massah where the children of Israel were in need of water. Rather than seek God for their water and believe Him to provide, they uttered these faithless words,
“Is the Lord among us or not?”
— Exodus 17:7
This helps us understand that the temptation to throw himself down would be an attempt at asking God to prove Himself.
3. The third and final category defined in this last temptation by Eve was that it was...
...a tree desirable to make one wise
— Genesis 4
The Hebrew word for wise "shakal" used in this passage, means more than simple knowledge of hidden and maybe forbidden insight but also included the idea of success, prosperity, and power and fits the category of pride
The truth is...
you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth
— Deuteronomy 8:18
The God of heaven will prosper us
— Nehemiah 2:20
the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful and prosperous man
— Genesis 39:2
The temptation Jesus faced in this area of flesh, categorized as pride and self-exaltation through fame, fortune, and power, was the following;
the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
— Matthew 4:8-9
Jesus reply was;
‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve
— Matthew 4:10
This last and final category reveals that whoever sits on the throne of our hearts and whoever we obey is who we worship as well as who rules the land of our hearts.
Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
— Romans 6:16
Compare as well the devil's beginning statement of each temptation of Christ of; "If you are the Son of God..." and his statement of temptation to Eve; "you will be like God". Eve stumbles in her desire for self-exaltation which leads to a great fall of humiliation. Jesus is exalted in humility. Eve was already like God as in created in His image living in a glorious place. Jesus is God and left the beauty of His glorious dwelling place to become one of us.
Psalm chapter one gives us image of these three main areas in showing how they also work progressively
Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful
— Psalm 1:1
In this, we see that Eve took counsel from the serpent to put her appetite first, then stood in the path of sinners with her focus now shifted to what she determined best for her. She then sat in the seat of the scorn rooted in pride with the disillusionment of achievement apart from God.
The following chart puts all of these together, showing us God's ever consistent patterns of revelation.
Three Main Categories of Flesh
I John 2:16
Lust of the flesh
Lust of the eye
Pride of life
Eve saw the tree was good for food - appetite
pleasant to the eyes -Eve saw what God had offered, didn't believe it to be sufficient
desirable to make one wise, successful and prosperous
"Turn these stones into bread"
"Throw yourself down" - See if God will save you
"obtain the kingdoms of this world"
Psalm 1 Showing Progression
Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly
Nor stands in the path of sinners
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful
Jesus Our Answer to All
Jesus the way
Jesus the truth
Jesus the life
Our Faith in Him Exhibited
Territory and Dominion
Continuing on with laying the foundation this time in terms of territory - It is necessary to observe that there are two major themes of the Bible that concern the ideas of territory and dominion which are significant to our study as it relates to the area in which the life of flesh or faith is played out. God begins in the first chapter of Genesis with granting the man that He created dominion over the territory of the earth and all its contents.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
— Genesis 1:26
God placed Adam in the territory of the Garden and command him to serve and protect it. I like Young's literal translation of God's command to Adam to work at protecting what God had given him.
And Jehovah God taketh the man, and causeth him to rest in the garden of Eden, to serve it, and to keep it
— Genesis 2:15
In obeying and serving God Adam and Eve dwelt freely in a territory in which tranquility and rest were the atmospheres of the kingdom.
When we are in submission to anything else but God alone it is, entirely, the opposite.
They chose new gods; then was war in the gates ~ Judges 5:8
In the beginning, God established a piece of land, a specific place where Adam and Eve could exercise the dominion they were given by God. It was a sort of microcosmic kingdom of sorts. In their adulterous rebellion in defecting to another lord through their own lusts and desires and the devil's temptation, the tranquility and rest they once enjoyed were gone and they forced to leave that domain or remain separate from God in perpetual guilt for eternity.
There is a great lesson in this story that we should not fool ourselves into thinking that we can remain in fellowship and presence with God while habitually living a lifestyle of sin with the thought that God doesn't mind.
No one who abides in Him [who lives and remains in communion with and in obedience to Him—deliberately, knowingly and habitually, practices sin
— I John 3:6 (Amplified)
We all sin daily but to knowingly ignore habitual sin, and outright accept it, as to settle down into it, is riding on a dangerously thin line of presumption.
For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins
— Hebrews 10:26
Back to the domain of Eden. There is a curious phrase that is used when God comes to look for Adam that is key to understanding this concept of dominion throughout the remainder of scripture
And they hear the sound of Jehovah God walking up and down in the garden
— Genesis 3:8
To and Fro
The phrase walking or looking up and down, to and fro, back and forth, all have to do with either surveying for potential possession or exercise of dominion. God tells Abraham...
“Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendant
— Genesis 13:14-15
God tells the children of Israel...
Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours
Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you
— Joshua 1:3
Take this verse into account as to what God was doing as He walked up and down in the garden after the fateful treason.
the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him
— II Chronicles 16:9
Is God checking up on them to see if they have done wrong? Quite the contrary. He is looking to seize the opportunity to exercise His dominion and show Himself strong to them. Their disloyalty disqualified them and the battle began.
The I Chronicles verse is in reference to king Asa who took the temple treasures, gold, and silver to pay off another nation to protect him and as it was in Eden this was an issue of disloyalty and faithlessness that disqualified him from God's provision and protection.
“Because you have relied on the king of Syria, and have not relied on the Lord your God, therefore the army of the king of Syria has escaped from your hand
— II Chronicles 16:7
Gold in the Bible is symbolic of godliness and silver is a symbol of redemption. Asa imaged for us how we might sell out to our selfish flesh by forfeiting the godliness he has given us and indescribable gift of redemption for much lesser things.
Let's look at another verse in Job, with this similar phrase as it concerns what Satan was doing when God questions him as to what he is doing and where he is going.
Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.
— Job 1:7
He was the also the one who once...
walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones of God's holy mountain.
— Ezekiel 28:4
What was Satan doing based on this revelation of territory and to and fro? He was looking to seize an opportunity and legal place and right to possess and exercise his dominion in the territory or land of Job's life. He technically had no right to Job because he...
...was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.
— Job 1:1
The devil has no rights to the territory of hearts, minds, and lives that are submitted to God. When Balaam tries to curse the children of Israel at the request of a Midianite king he is unable to do so because
“He (God) has not observed iniquity in Jacob, Nor has He seen wickedness in Israel. The Lord his God is with him,
— Numbers 23:21
After three failed attempts at cursing them, they could find no way to penetrate the protection of the Lord God almighty as long as they were obedient and faithful to Him. Shortly after this incident.
the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab... And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand.
— Numbers 25:2,9
When we set foot outside of God's covenant love and protection through the unfaithfulness of blatant disobedience to Him, in favor of our fleshly desires, we make ourselves targets and opportunities for evil and chaos.
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands,you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded
— James 4:7-8
The Battle Begins
Now that we understand the role and dominion of flesh as it applies to the territory of our lives in terms of who rules and reigns over it, and how, we can continue with subject of this lesson beginning with this portion of scripture from the book of Joshua that takes place at the end of the 40 year wilderness wanderings of God's children whom He delivered from the Egyptians and promised a permanent land of their own where He (God) would be their king ever present with them that would satisfy all their needs.
And Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites.
— Joshua 3:10
There were seven enemies that had to be conquered before the children of Israel would be able to take possession of the land God had promised them.
The meanings of their names lend to some interesting insights that are reflective of the spiritual enemies of our flesh that we are confronted with as we enter and take possession of the promised land of an eternal relationship with God and the life He intended us to have.
Joshua in this portion of scripture, who leads his people into a land flowing with an abundance of everything they ever wanted or needed, represents Jesus.
In the verse above we see Joshua telling the Israelites that God will drive out from before them these seven enemies. One might conclude that the children of Israel would just step across the Jordan and "poof" new land, new life, enemies are gone with no participation on their part. We know from the scriptures that follow, that this wasn't how it happened. There is always participation required on our part that invites God to do His part. There is no such thing as dual citizenship in the Kingdom of God. You either serve Him or another and whoever that has rightful jurisdiction over you.
You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons
— I Corinthians 10:21
This concept is in conflict with modern Churchianity which preaches the gospel of don't change a thing, just come to Jesus and hang out with church people and you will just "poof" change. We must take those steps towards Him of conquering the territory of our lives through repentance and submission to Him. Repentance is the first word of the Gospel and although it is God that does the work in us it is our job to turn towards Him and not towards sin, the flesh, or any of the wares the devil would try to peddle us. Paul exhorts us to...
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure
— Philippians 2:12-13
So it is with us. Sometimes in our walk with God into the eternal life God intended for us, we are surprised to learn of these enemies and equally surprised at the realization that we play a role in the personal defeat of them and rather than evict these enemies we make friends with them and let them to our own demise. This is a progressive work that will continue this side of eternity but we must be headed in the right direction.
Jesus has gone before us and defeated our foes...
And the hostile princes and rulers He shook off from Himself, and boldly displayed them as His conquests, when by the Cross He triumphed over them.”
— Colossians 2:15 (Weymouth)
...but we have a good fight of faith to fight in seeing this victory come to completion in us personally and living in that reality. just as the children of Israel had to stand, fight, and resist their physical enemies. God invites us to engage in this battle of removing the fleshly occupants that don't belong in our relationship with Him - the ultimate promised land.
those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
— Galations 5:24
The enemies in this chapter represent the fleshly occupants of the territories of our soul that must be conquered through faith in the completed work of Jesus on the cross so God can take possession of the territory of our lives.
The names of these enemies show a progression and downward spiral of allowing these fleshly enemies, invited by and empowered by our sin and rebellion, to dwell in the land of our lives. Let's take a brief look at each one and then we will see how they operate and function in us that we would not be ignorant of his devices. (II Corinthians 2:11)
The first enemies mentioned were the Canaanites. The lessons from this enemy will lay the foundation for the concept of legal transactions that vie for rights of dominion, as discussed earlier, and will be important in understanding the other occupants of which many were sons of Canaan.
Canaan carries a couple of meanings and attributes that are both applicable and relevant. The first attribute this clan is associated with is that of trading or trafficking. It comes from a root that means lowland and includes the idea of being brought under and into subjection.
This rightly describes a portion of scripture in Ezekiel that gives image through an earthly king of Tyre, of what occurred in the spirit realm with the evil one himself and points to where all of this comes from. See here God's confrontation and how through Satan's trading he was cast out of the mountain of God. He is described as a covering Cherub that loses his position and territory.
“By the abundance of your trading You became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing Out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones
— Ezekiel 28:16
Isn't this what really took place in the garden with Adam and Eve. A transaction with the devil and a trade was made. A truth for a lie and they were cast out of the land of the garden.
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
— Genesis 3:13
According to both Strong's and Gesenius, the Hebrew word for deceived in the above verse includes the idea of purchasing something on credit, as in a buy now and pay later transaction, the definitions also included the burdensome consequences of oppression, taxation, and being seized with a debt to a creditor that cannot not be afforded. Isn't that what the devil does? Like a crafty snake oil salesman, he offers up something that is really nothing then takes all you have and leaves you with a debt you cannot pay and in turn, requires your servitude.
the borrower is servant to the lender
— Proverbs 22:7
Who you buy from is who you owe. Compare this with God's proposal.
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price.
— Isaiah 55:1
God's invitation is upfront and free to us but not without cost. Two chapters prior in Isaiah 53 the prophet describes the suffering servant who paid the ransom for our release from the kingdom of darkness.
The second meaning given to Canaan is humiliated and related to the lowland definition introduced with this enemy. Could we say this enemy of the flesh speaks of living the low life that inevitably leads to humiliation?
"The world does not object to your being a Christian for a time if she can but tempt you to cease your pilgrimage, and settle down to buy and sell with her in Vanity Fair"
— Charles Spurgeon
The second enemy was the Hittites. Hitti comes from a word meaning terror and lends to the idea of being shattered, broken, and confused. When we sell out to the snake oil salesman and make trades that lead us into a low life, this one comes with it. This enemy of the flesh is about the fear and anxiety that creeps into a life filled with fears of every kind but that of God Himself The Bible tells us that
In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence
— Proverbs 14:26
Anxiety can be self-focused, and I would also venture to guess that the fear of man and the opinions of man rank pretty high on the terror list as well.
The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe
— Proverbs 29:25
This enemy wants us to want to look really good in the eyes of man as well as be so self-focused that we become distracted and fragmented by it that we really won't care what God thinks.
Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings
— Isaiah 51:7
The third enemies were the Hivites meaning nomadic tent dwellers and speak of a restlessness and unsettled life. It images that of wandering aimlessly and without purpose or vision. In fact, one of the descriptions of this word from an Arabic standpoint, according to Gesenius, is to roll oneself in a circle which is altogether needless. Could we say an unfocused and unpurposed life is a futile life of running in circles and accomplishing nothing like a dog chasing its tail?
Where there is no vision from God, the people run wild
— Proverbs 29:18 (The Voice)
God calls us to know our calling and is full of vision and productivity according to His will.
be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him,being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy
— Colossians 1:9-11
The fourth enemies were the Perrizites and they were known as inhabitants of the open country characterized by unprotected villages and cities without walls. This illustrates for us the undisciplined life without boundaries.
Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls
— Proverbs 25:28
The Hebrew understanding of a relationship with God centered around the walls and canopy of a covenant as described in Isaiah
Violence shall no longer be heard in your land,
Neither wasting nor destruction within your borders;
But you shall call your walls Salvation,
And your gates Praise
— Isaiah 60:18
To walk outside those boundaries through disobedience to God's will and ways by catering to the whims of the flesh we to step outside of God's protection. This enemy would like us to believe that we can have our cake and eat it too but in reality, it will only lead us to a vulnerable place where we can be trodden down and plundered.
The fifth enemies were the Girgashites. Gergashi according to Gesenius means "clayey soil" and images for us how our flesh gets us off track and stuck in the mud by leaving the path of righteousness as described in Proverbs.
those who leave the paths of uprightness To walk in the ways of darkness; Who rejoice in doing evil, And delight in the perversity of the wicked; Whose ways are crooked, And who are devious in their paths(ruts, cycles, and courses)
— Proverbs 2:10-15 (NET Bible)
This enemy wants us to remain in the familiar paths and return to our old ways.
But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit, a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.
— II Peter 2:22
God has delivered us from the miry clay. Let us not return there again. The Lord gets us unstuck from the mud and establishes our goings.
He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings
— Psalm 40:2
The Sixth enemies were the Amorites. The Hebrew word Amori has to do with the need for publicity. If it isn't obvious already, pride plays a major role in this enemy of our flesh and is characterized by boasting. Our flesh wants to be popular and well liked and will tend to do unrighteous things to obtain this type of affirmation.
the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire; He blesses the greedy and renounces the Lord
— Psalm 10:3
Self and God cannot both sit on the throne.
the workers of iniquity boast in themselves
— Psalm 94:4
Temptation buster on this one...
let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the Lord
— Jeremiah 9:24
The Seventh enemies were the Jebusites and their name means to trod down with the feet can be in reference to a holy place as in polluting and profaning it.
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
— I Corinthians 3:16
This fleshly quality treats the grace of God as a cheap thing
Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
— Hebrews 10:29
This fleshly attribute could very well sum up what all of the fleshly characteristics do when we voluntarily and habitually live in them. God warned the Israelites as well as us that to live in fellowship with these is to our own demise
they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the Lord your God has given you
— Joshua 23:13
We can see what happens when sin operating through our flesh is the ruling force in our souls there is a progressive downward spiral of its destroying forces.
Pulling It All Together
The Canaanites illustrate for us the humiliation and shame when we lower God's standards of right living to make provision for our flesh. It is essentially living the low life.
...make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
— Romans 13:14
Jesus invites us to come up higher.
as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways
— Isaiah 55
The Hittites revealed that when satisfying the self and flesh is the focus of our lives this ultimately leads to fears that drive us to make many bad decisions and away from God's comfort and confidence. and progresses to an aimless unproductive existence, of careless living and a casting off of restraint as shown in the definition of the Hivites. In leaving the path of righteousness our lives next become like cities without walls, boundaries, or standard of living represented by the Perizzites and we get stuck in ruts and cycles of sin and defeat imaged by the Girgashites who also convince us to minimize both sin and consequence. The Amorites reveal how pride attempts to mask and hide all of the above and deny that living under these dictates truly does trample the blood of Christ shed to deliver us from these very things, underfoot exhibited by the Jebusites.
Cain and Abel are other examples of faith in our own flesh or faith in God's sacrifice. Able offered a blood sacrifice acknowledging a true understanding of his condition. Cain offered the fruit of his own work denying his need for atonement. Cain became upset because he thought that God liked Able better. The real difference was that Able understood and humbled himself admitting the real price of His sin. Wherein lies another huge universal lie - "Our sin isn't really that bad".
Cain refused to acknowledge the gravity of his sin. God even came to him and explained that if he would do well that he too would experience Gods favor too. His pride tainted reasoning had now twisted his thinking to believe that it was his brother's fault that he felt so small and insignificant rather than his own disobedience.
This deceptive type of thinking is what led him to believe that eliminating his brother would solve his problem instead of facing the truth about himself. Blame is a great indicator of pride in action. Anger and defensiveness as seen in this story are common evidence of pride
God's Battle Strategy
The first step to defeating these fleshly enemies is to acknowledge their existence and the problems they are causing, acknowledging that have we have either made a god of ourselves, others, or things. It is important to look at how we take life into our own hands without considering what God might do for us. When God is not on the throne of our hearts our flesh is.
The next phase after discovery is to forgive and be forgiven. Both our sin and the sins committed against us were born by and suffered for by Jesus who hung on a cross bearing it all in His body. His blood covered it all.
Next, we must repent and turn away from our old ways, attitudes, behaviors, and fleshly reactions as we discover each unconquered territory of our soul.
We need put our faith in God for every insecurity and need we have and consciously choose not to worship ourselves by doing what we want nor do we worship others by doing what we think they want us to be and do.
These patterns of living in the flesh become what is known in the Bible as strongholds and are the fortresses that keep us in bondage.
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds...
— II Corinthians 10:4
We can live in the awful patterns of sin and addiction or maybe the patterns of relationship troubles and issues for the rest of our lives which the cycles these enemies create show us. The Israelites circled the mountain for 40 years because their flesh always seemed to overrule their faith or we can break out of their grips through submission to God in repentance, forgiveness, and faith in our Mighty Conqueror by...
casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ
— II Corinthians 10:5
Walking in the flesh is always about rebellion no matter how cleverly disguised it is. The excuses we come up with to maintain our flesh and its desires are infinite. therefore I would also like to take a look at the fine line between freedom and rebellion, considering we often give in to our flesh with misled ideas of freedom.
Websters Dictionary interestingly defines freedom as a state of exemption from power or control of another. Exemption from slavery or servitude or confinement.
Rebellion is defined and open renunciation of authority, open resistance to lawful authority.
From the definitions above, these sound a bit alike except for freedom which is a state of being through submission to authority. Rebellion is a behavior that is chosen. It is an open resistance which eventually leads to the exact opposite of the definition of freedom. Freedom through submission to God and His ways comes with a fence of protection. Rebellion through fleshly desires is a city without walls
Isaiah offers us this warning
Woe to those going down to Egypt (picture of the flesh)
expecting help — relying on horses;
trusting in chariots, because they have many,
and in the strength of their cavalrymen (looking to self, people, programs, procedures and powers governmental or otherwise) —
but not looking to the Holy One of Isra’el,
not consulting Adonai
— Isaiah 31:1 (Complete Jewish Bible)
A lot of times we mistake God's fence of protection (boundaries) as confinement when it was never meant to keep us in as much as keep the enemy out.
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility,for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
— 1 Peter 5:5-11
Whenever the children of Israel succumbed to their fleshly natures in following after the gods and practices of the other nations they were overcome by these same enemies and were eventually oppressed by a foreign enemy.
We would do well to do spiritual battle against the enemies of our flesh as Joshua and the children of Israel did by eradicating the sin and unforgiveness in our lives that invite and empower them so that we may live in the plans of peace and wholeness God intended.
For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
— Jeremiah 28:11
put to death the earthly parts of your nature...and...put on the new self, which is continually being renewed in fuller and fuller knowledge, closer and closer to the image of its Creator
— Colossians 3:5,10
© 2010 Tamarajo