"If you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the evil deeds of the body, you will live." —Romans 8:13
To follow Christ we must deny ourselves (Lk 9:23) and crucify our flesh with its passions and desires (Gal 5:24). We must discipline our bodies so as to master them (1 Cor 9:27). This seems to call for great will power. Nonetheless, overcoming our self-centered flesh is not done by our power or might but by the Holy Spirit (Zec 4:6). We put to death the evil deeds of the body not by will power but by Spirit-power. "The flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; the two are directly opposed" (Gal 5:17).
The Spirit strongly opposes our pleasure-seeking desires. Thus, if we "live in accord with the Spirit" we "will not yield to the cravings of the flesh" (Gal 5:16). For example, how did the flesh get us to give up our prayer time for the last two days? We did not make an act of the will to reject prayer, but we merely didn't find time to pray. So how would we give up cigarettes, TV, alcohol, caffeine, gossip, etc.? We do this by choosing the things of the Spirit and other things thereby get pushed out of our lives. The desires of the flesh breed in a vacuum, in emptiness. In a Spirit-filled life, there's no vacancy for the flesh.
Prayer: Father, I'm busy and cluttered, but I'm not filled. Fill every aspect of my life with the Holy Spirit.
Promise: "Should not this daughter of Abraham here who has been in the bondage of Satan for eighteen years have been released from her shackles on the sabbath?" —Lk 13:16
Praise: Out of love for Jesus, Charlie decided to give up cigarettes for Lent. Out of love for Charlie, Jesus gave him the grace to give up smoking permanently.
Reference: (For a related teaching, order our tape Staying Filled With the Spirit on audio AV 57-1 or video V-57.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 3, 2007
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