“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” Romans 12:2
Friend to Friend
Of all the activities ten-year-old Miriam enjoyed, she loved riding horses the most. Charlie, her favorite horse, had a sleek chestnut mane, well-defined muscular legs, and a fierce, strong will to match. Miriam felt powerful and self-assured when controlling this massive animal—except when he caught a glimpse of the barn. Whenever Miriam and Charlie returned from a jaunt in the woods, as soon as they got close enough for him to see the barn, he bolted homeward, forcing Miriam to hang on to the reins for dear life.
One day her riding instructor witnessed this strong-willed animal taking control of his master.
“Miriam! What are you doing?” she called out. “You cannot let that animal control you in that manner! Bring that horse back out of the barn this instant.”
Dutifully, Miriam mounted Charlie and led him a distance away from the stalls.
“Now,” the wiser, older woman instructed, “when you turn around and Charlie sees the barn and begins to run toward it, turn your reins all the way to the right. Do not let him go forward.”
On cue, Miriam steered her horse toward the stalls. On cue, Charlie began to bolt.
“Turn him! Turn him!” the instructor shouted.
Young Miriam pulled the reins to the right as hard as she could until the horse’s head was inches away from touching his right shoulder. But instead of obeying her lead, Charlie fought her with 950 pounds of bone and muscle. Round and round the horse and rider circled.
“Don’t let go,” the instructor shouted. “You must break his will!”
After ten long minutes of going in circles, Miriam and Charlie both grew exhausted and quite dizzy. He stopped circling. She stopped pulling.
“Now gently tap him to see if he will walk toward the barn instead of run,” the instructor commanded.
Charlie did not bolt, but walked at a steady pace. Miriam had broken this beautiful animal’s will and regained control of him as he submitted to his master.
I see myself in Charlie. I have the tendency to do what I’ve always done—to revert to old habit patterns and thought patterns. To keep making the same mistakes over and over.
Why does that happen? From the time we are born, we receive messages about ourselves—some true, some false. We go through our lives doing whatever we think necessary to feel safe, secure, and significant. Between the times we’re born physically and the time we’re born again spiritually, we form certain habit patterns and thought patterns. Our unique way of getting our God-given needs met by our own strength and our own means is our unique version of the flesh.
The word, flesh, has several meanings in the Bible. One meaning is simply our bodies—our literal flesh and bones. The Bible says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Jesus came in bodily form—flesh and bones.
But another use of the flesh refers to our sinful thought patterns and actions that develop over time, our mechanism for getting our needs met apart from Christ. Once we become a Christian, the desire to do things our way and in our own strength apart from God does not instantly go away.
No one pushes the delete button on our old programming—our old thought patterns and actions. We experience a struggle between the flesh, with its pre-programmed thought patterns and actions that seek to please self, and the spirit, with its new thought patterns and actions that seek to please God.
When we become Christians, we’re born again and have a new spirit within us. We are saved from the penalty of sin. However, as long as we live in an earthly body, we will battle with the power of sin. Our old fleshly desires war against our new spiritual desires. While we fight battles with the world on the outside, we also fight battles with the flesh on the inside—our mind, will, and emotions.
The flesh’s lies will say:
- I’ve got to look out for myself because no one else will.
- I deserve to eat that bag of chips.
- I’m going to get even.
- I’m going to quit. This is too hard.
- I want what I want, and I want it now.
- I’m better than that person.
- My parents didn’t love me, so no one ever will.
- I’ve worked hard all week. I deserve as much wine as I want.
But you and I don’t have to be controlled by the flesh. Because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross and His Sprit in us, we can control our actions…and it begins by controlling our thoughts.
Let’s conclude where we started: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2 NIV).
God, there are certain mistakes that I keep making over and over again. I know that thoughts come before actions. Help me to renew my mind with Your truth so that I can live according to Your Word.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Go back to the list of “what the flesh says” in today’s devotion.
Can you think of any truths from God’s Word that would correct that faulty thinking?
I’d love to hear your answers. Click over to my Facebook page, look for today’s devotion, and leave your response.
More from the Girlfriends
Do you ever feel that you’re not good enough, smart enough, or just not enough, period? If so, it’s time to silence the lies that steal your confidence and awaken the truth that you’re amazingly created and equipped by God. Today’s devotion was adapted from my new book being released April 3, 2018, Enough: Silencing the Lies that Steal Your Confidence. It is an expanded and revised version of the book, I’m Not Good Enough, with 50-percent new material. If you pre-order before April 3, you’ll receive a passel of free goodies including 3 FREE e-books: Your Scars are Beautiful to God, Listening to God Day-by-Day, and 5 Dreams of Every Woman. Click www.sharonjaynes.com/enough for more details.