fleshing it out
"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires." —Galatians 5:24
By "the flesh," the Bible refers to our fallen human nature. "The tendency of the flesh is toward death" (Rm 8:6). "The flesh in its tendency is at enmity with God; it is not subject to God's law. Indeed, it cannot be; those who are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rm 8:7-8). A few of the works of the flesh are: "lewd conduct, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, bickering, jealousy, outbursts of rage, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like" (Gal 5:19-21). The flesh can be used to enslave us (see Rm 7:14) and will try to start a civil war against our own souls (1 Pt 2:11). Therefore, it is unrealistic and foolish to make provisions for the desires of the flesh (see Rm 13:14; 8:12). The flesh must not only be controlled, but crucified (Gal 5:24). Otherwise, we will stifle the Spirit (see Gal 5:17), become slaves, and destroy ourselves.
We crucify "the flesh with its passions and desires" by living in the Spirit and following the Spirit's lead (Gal 5:25). The Spirit lusts "against the flesh; the two are directly opposed" (Gal 5:17). "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" (Rm 8:13). The Holy Spirit wants to get all our attention, time, and energy. Then there's nothing left for the flesh, which then dies of neglect and starvation. Even when the flesh tries to assert itself, its desires are ignored because of our immersion into, that is, baptism in the Spirit. May we live in the Spirit and with the Spirit in us. May we be so Spirit-filled that there is no room for the flesh.
Prayer: Father, may I love You so much that I will crucify my flesh and be crucified to the world (Gal 6:14).
Promise: "In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness, and chastity." —Gal 5:22-23
Praise: St. Teresa wrote: "How different (our love) would be, how much more like that of heaven, if we really knew our Lord!"
Rescript: †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 24, 2014
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