Feeding the Spirit and Starving the Flesh

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“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41

When I come across this verse, I immediately relate it to this verse:

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

If a lion is roaming around looking for his next prey, it makes sense that we are told to “watch and pray” to avoid “falling into the trap”.

The NLT version suggests that instead of falling into temptation it is more about not giving into temptation.

Falling into temptation is a matter of watching where you step, and Not giving into temptation is a matter of keeping your guard up through prayer.

We all have certain weaknesses or vices that are easy for us to fall into. Every temptation we come against has been handcrafted to draw us away from God.

What is most tempting to you probably is different than what is most tempting to me because we all have different “lusts”  of this world that entice us.

For everything in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–comes not from the Father but from the world. 1 John 2:16

All of these “lusts of the world” are not things that we happen across, they are what we are bombarded with everyday.

How do we fight against temptation?

Well in our own strength and ability, these temptations that surround us will always overcome us, but through the power of God inside of us we can withstand these temptations.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41

The second part of this verse shows us our true nature without the saving power of Jesus inside of us. Our flesh is drawn to feels good now without thought of consequences of our actions. Doing what feels good to us in the moment to please the flesh will only make it harder to ignore it in the long run.

Have you every fed a stray cat? What happens once you feed the cat just one time? In my experience the cat keeps coming back and even seems to tell a few of his friends!

Our flesh is like that stray cat, keeping feeding it and instead of going away it will come back consistently and grow louder.

That is why it is so important to we are praying in the spirit to withstand these temptations.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Ephesians 6:18

Praying in the spirit is our strongest defense against all of the temptations of this world. Whenever we feel tempted we can know that all of the power we need to withstand this temptation is already inside of us.

Despite how we feel in the moment we are never forced to sin, we always have a choice.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Be comforted dear friends that just as Satan has crafted “traps” to trick us, God has given us His strength to overcome them!

“There are parts of our calling, works of the Holy Spirit, and defeats of the darkness that will come no other way than through furious, fervent, faith-filled, unceasing prayer.” – Beth Moore

Focus challenge:

Practice praying in the spirit when you feel tempted. Of course for this to work you must be aware of your greatest temptations. Make a list of what you are most easily tempted by. What “worldly lusts” seem to lure you in? Ask God to reveal these to you if you are not sure, and when you come across a situation where you are tempted, turn to prayer instead. Sure it is not a natural response for us to pray during those times, but it is in the those times you can be sure that you will defeat the devil by tapping into the Spirit inside of you!

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Romans 8:11

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