Spirit v. Flesh; Pursuing Righteousness

Matthew 6:33 … But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Spirit v Flesh

There is a battle that goes on within every Christian, no matter how young or old in the faith.  It is a struggle between the Spirit and the flesh. Do we allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit, or do we give into the desires of our flesh?

When we are seeking after God, reading Scripture, praying, or serving Him in some way, it is much easier to avoid temptation.  Avoiding those situations that we know are risky is essential for walking in freedom.

We see two very different approaches to dealing with temptation in the Bible. The first of these is the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife.

Genesis 39 … 1 Joseph was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian captain of the guard. 2 The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered in the house of his Egyptian master. 4 Joseph found favor in Potiphar’s eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 Because of Joseph, the blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had. 6 Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

8 But he refused. “My master has entrusted everything he owns to my care. 9 He has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”

11 One day while Joseph was attending to his household duties, while no servants were inside, 12 she caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

Joseph’s response to this powerful temptation was to flee immediately from the “danger zone”. He knew if he stayed in that place it would grow more and more difficult to resist. Fleeing from temptations should always be one of our first responses.

1 Corinthians 10:13 … with the temptation God will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

The second scripture on this subject of temptation, is 2 Samuel 11 and 12. The story of David’s fall with Bathsheba.

2 Samuel 11 … 1 In the spring, when kings go off to war, David sent Joab and the whole Israelite army to destroy the Ammonites, while David remained in Jerusalem. 2 One evening from the roof of the palace, David saw a beautiful woman bathing.  3 He was told, “She is Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 David sent for her, and slept with her. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”

6 David told Joab: “Send me Uriah.” 7 When Uriah came to David, David said, “Go to your house.” 9 But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace and did not go down to his house. 10 David asked Uriah, “Why didn’t you go home?” 11 Uriah said, “my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!” 13 At David’s invitation, Uriah ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But Uriah still did not go home.

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”

17 When Uriah the Hittite died 26 and his wife heard of it, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.

2 Samuel 12 … 1 The Lord sent Nathan to David to say, “Two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had many sheep, 3 but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb. It grew up with him and his children, shared his food, drank from his cup and slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.

4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but rather than taking one of his own sheep to prepare a meal he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the traveler.”

5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”

7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!

In our second story we find a man who was blessed abundantly by the Lord, but who was seeking fulfillment in the things of this world. David was not with his armies, where he should have been. To make matters worse, when he encountered a strong temptation, he embraced it and pursued it, rather than running from it. Then after sinning, he tried to cover it up instead of bringing it into the light and confessing to God.

Matthew 6:24 … “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other.

Joseph had one master, his Lord always came first. While David, straddled the fence. He declared his love for God, but his actions demonstrated that he also had a love for the things of the earth.

Romans 8:5 … For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

Joseph was clearly living according to the Spirit. David on the other hand was inconsistent. Although he certainly loved the Lord, and was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), he also gave into the lusts of the flesh.

Matthew 22:37 … “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

Are we like Joseph, whose heart, soul and mind belonged completely to God? Do we seek to grow closer to Him through reading His Word, prayer and service?

Or are we like David? Do we love the Lord, but also desire the things of the flesh that hinder our walk with the Lord?

If we want to do all we can to put God first in our lives, we can get no better instruction than the words of our Lord and Savior.

John 15:5 … I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.


~ a BeFreeinChrist writing ~