Are you ever faced with something that you know you shouldn’t do? Yet deep down if you’re honest with yourself, you really want to do it? My guess is that you can relate. This battle inside is real, even for Christians. Sometimes we’d like to think that Christianity makes everything easy, full of puppy dogs and rainbows. We have this thought that this is what we’re entitled to…but Jesus didn’t promise this.
“For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:5-8
Here there are clearly two types of people: those that live according to the flesh and those according to the Spirit. When we are in the world, our flesh is our god. We do what WE want all the time! We think that WE know best for our lives. I’ll go to that bar, hook up with that person, pursue that career, spend my money on that item, and enjoy that thing because it makes me feel good. We follow our own path, desires, and thoughts. It’s all about ME. But once we believe in Christ, this all changes. Our minds are to be set on the Spirit of God and what pleases Him. We must realize that now we have peace with God through Jesus and are no longer our own. We’ve been bought and now we have NO RIGHTS. We now live under a new reign and king-no longer our prideful selves but the Lord of all lords.
Focusing on one’s sexuality does run the danger of “setting one’s mind on the flesh.” This is one reason why I choose to and advise others NOT to identify as gay. When we take on any label, it can become our self-imposed box and prison. Doing so actually empowers the hold of that label over us.
So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Romans 8:12-14
When we are born again, we are first buried to our former ways and the power of sin. We then get new life and are a new creature in Christ. We no longer get to define ourselves by or live according to the flesh. I much choose to die to my unwanted same-sex desires and live by the Spirit of God.
So how do I do this?
I’ve found that you can’t just say no to something and expect everything to be OK. You also MUST be running toward something to counteract the pull of the opposite thing. Pursuing healthy relationship with God and with others in the Body is the key. The more that I “starve” same-sex attraction by not giving it overwhelming thought, internal dialogue, or any open door for lust with my eyes, the more I find new life and freedom. I find myself connecting with God and others in the heart that satisfies my soul. This doesn’t mean though that I ignore or avoid when things do surface. That never helps anything or anyone! But when struggle arises, I know I can have an honest conversation about it with God and a few friends that I’ve built trust and vulnerability with. Receiving prayer in these vulnerable times also brings much help when in need. Dying to the flesh in the moment is never pleasant. It’s hard to let go of things sometimes. But when I consider what I’m getting by doing so, it’s worth it. Because the Spirit within me groans for life and for the good stuff that only God can give. This also brings me joy because this is evidence that I really am a son of God. And that is one (and only)label I gladly will take to define me and live by…a son.
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Are there areas that you are setting your mind on the flesh that you need to die to today?