A Compilation of messages that explain Bible verses on this topic.
WE CANNOT DO ALL WE WANT, BECAUSE THE DESIRES OF OUR CARNAL NATURE ARE OPPOSED TO THOSE OF THE SPIRIT
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. – Galatians 5:17
We are all born with a fallen human nature, driven by sin. All it naturally desires it contrary to the Word of God. After we are born-again in our spirits and transformed by the Holy Spirit, we desire only what is pure and good. Even though our “spirits” are completely changed, our “fleshly nature” is still very much alive and strong. The fleshly nature is what urges us to sin, and the Holy Spirit urges to do God's will. We are in a continuous war.
Jesus told us that in order to follow Him, we must deny ourselves and pick up our crosses daily (Luke 9:23-26). In order to grow spiritually, we must stop the lusts of our carnal nature, on a daily basis. The fleshly nature does not want to pray, praise the Lord, study the Bible or help others. Our carnal nature causes us to be offended, not forgive, seeks excuses and reasons to sin. We cannot do what the flesh wants, if we want to belong to the Lord!
THE FREEDOM WE HAVE IN CHRIST IS NOT FOR LIVING IN SIN
Everything is permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything [and brought under its power, allowing it to control me]. – 1 Corinthians 6:12 (AMP)
What does the apostle Paul mean by this verse: “Everything is permissible for me...”? Does this mean that we are allowed to sin? Let us not forget that in his letter, Paul replies to those from the Corinthian church and he cites parts of their letter in replying to them. Paul wrote on more occasions that we are free in Christ, but we are not to make our freedom a reason to live for the flesh (Galatians 5:13).
Yes, we have the freedom to choose sin. But if we willfully choose it, knowing what we choose is wrong, sin will take a hold of us, and we will no longer belong to Jesus, but to the devil, who is the source of sin. Paul repeats the above statement in 1 Corinthians 10:23, except that it ends with “... all things are lawful, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].” In the context of both cases, we find the sin of fornication and eating food that was sacrificed to idols, which were big issues in his time. When we love Jesus, we cannot love sin and choose to do it anymore! When someone finds excuses for their sins, their Lord is no longer Jesus, but sin, because we are the slaves of whoever we obey (Romans 6:16).
As Christians, nothing should control our lives or master us. God does not control us, neither does He force us to do His will and follow Him. We always have the freedom to choose who we serve. The devil, instead, does his best to manipulate and deceive us to sin. If we fall into his trap and sin, he will condemn us, trying to convince us that God doesn’t love us anymore and there is no more forgiveness for our sin. For this reason, there are so many warnings in the Bible that tell us to hate sin and flee from it, so that we will not fall into it’s trap.
BY THE HOLY SPIRIT WE CAN STOP FULFILLING THE LUSTS OF OUR CARNAL NATURE AND HAVE ETERNAL LIFE
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. - Romans 8:12-13
God has bought us with the highest price, the life of His beloved Son. We do not belong to ourselves anymore, so we cannot live as we please, if we want to continue to belong to God. We are debtors to do God’s will, because we belong to Him. On the other hand, we have no obligations to live according to the desires of our flesh and end up spiritually dead.
If a Christian chooses to habitually and repeatedly live in sin, according to the corrupt lusts of their flesh and never truly repents, will end up doomed and separated from God for eternity, which is the spiritual death. On the contrary, we have to put the deeds and desires of our carnal nature to death, by not obeying the flesh anymore and choosing to do God’s will instead. We can do it only with the help of the Holy Spirit and He is ready to help us, whenever we ask Him to. God wants us to succeed and live with Him forever, so He equipped us with all we need, to make it to heaven.
WE HAVE TO CRUCIFY OUR CARNAL NATURE DAILY AND OBEY GOD’S WILL
Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience - Colossians 3:5-6
The message of these verses is very clear. It is up to us to crucify our flesh daily, to kill our sinful nature and stop committing every sin, whether it is listed in the verses above or not. How does something that is alive, die? It only dies if it is not fed. And how do we do that? If fornication is the problem, we need to avoid anything that could stir up our lust, including sensual commercials from television or any media; if it is about any other passion, we must avoid what reminds us of that, including going to the places connected to that sin or avoiding the people whom we sinned with in the past; if anger is the problem, the solution is to stop, take a deep breath, maybe even step back from the person or the problem that caused our anger; then open our hearts to the Lord, telling Him what bothers us and pray for His help to calm down and to show us how to defuse the tense situation and what to do; then, once we calm down, we will see things more clearly and can avoid much harm and arguing; to be able to overcome gluttony, we will avoid having the foods that we are weak about, handy, or go to the places where it they are easily accessible. Someone told me that if they had a cake tray they could not stop eating until they finished it and the solution was to stop baking desserts for a long time and to not go to any bakeries until they learned that they are the boss, not the sweets. We have to control what we eat and do, not vice versa.
Through the Holy Spirit, after we have been "born-again," we have the fruit of "self-control" inside us. The devil uses our old lifestyle and habits to make us believe that we cannot change, but it is a deception, because in fact "we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us." (Philippians 4:13).
OUR FLESH LUSTS AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. - Galatians 5:17-18
Our sinful nature’s desires are opposed to the Holy Spirit. There is a constant conflict between our flesh and God’s Spirit. Our fleshly nature desires the worldly, prideful, selfish things. The Holy Spirit is God and His desires bring glory and honor to our Lord in everything He does. Jesus says that the Holy Spirit guides us “into all the truth” as He speaks in not on His own authority and “will tell us the things to come” (John 16:13).
The Mosaic Law was given to the Jewish people, to guide and help them to live right for God. We are no longer under the Law, since Jesus fulfilled it by being the perfect sacrifice for all sins, once and for all. We have the guidance of the Holy Spirit as He constantly teaches us how to live right and reveals to us the truth of the Scriptures so that we may live accordingly.
THE SOONER WE RETURN TO THE LORD, THE BETTER
Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them” - Ecclesiastes 12:1
Someone may say that it is better for them to enjoy their life while young and they will come to God in their later years. But these are just lies of the enemy, to think that life with Jesus is not a happy life and to get one to postpone their salvation moment until there is no other chance to do it. None of us can be sure when we will leave this earth. It is time to seriously check our spiritual condition and make all the changes or adjustments needed to be done, so that we would be truly right standing with God.
Being right with God is the best place to be and we need to never forget that we are not our own, we belong to God. He created us and His Son died in our place to redeem us. If we choose the so called “pleasures of this life,” instead of obeying God, the price is very high and the longer we wait to decide to repent and follow Jesus, the less chances we have to be willing to do it. As Solomon wrote, getting older is not fun and the physical pleasures will become no pleasures at all. If we choose to follow the lusts of our flesh, instead of living right for God, we will be empty handed at the end and eternally damned.