There are words that we talk about in Scripture such as “persevere” and “endure,” but the only way we can have true understanding is through the heart. In looking at the word “flesh,” there needs to be an understanding of the spiritual things that counter the flesh.
We need to know and understand that the Holy Spirit is what empowers each of us to overcome the desires of the flesh. Without the Spirit of God, we are unable to control the flesh. The flesh will merely feed upon its own desires.
We’re going to look at three people today as a matter of focus in the book of Mark, which will give us a demonstration of what the flesh can and will do. We’re going to look at Solome, Herod and Herodius. None of these persons are born again, but each of them will give us clues about the power of the flesh.
Jesus warns about the power of the Spirit and the flesh, as well.
5 Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. 8 The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
To say that one follows Christ must live according to the Spirit of God. If a life does not demonstrate life for Jesus but instead for the flesh is a contradiction of one’s testimony of Christ.
The body or flesh is the outward and visible sign of the flesh or spirit being in control of the person.
Flesh and spirit suggest only two ways for people to live: you will either live according to the flesh, or live according to the Spirit. There is no “gray area” or “middle ground.”
It is God’s will that none should perish, but He allows people to decide for themselves where they desire to be. Is there evidence in how you live your life that will show people that you really love The Lord and desire to live for Him?
The flesh has power to control people.
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. (Romans 8:5 NIV)
14 King Herod heard of this, because Jesus’ name had become well known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that’s why supernatural powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He’s Elijah.” Still others said, “He’s a prophet—like one of the prophets.”
16 When Herod heard of it, he said, “John, the one I beheaded, has been raised!” 17 For Herod himself had given orders to arrest John and to chain him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18 John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife!” 19 So Herodias held a grudge against him and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 because Herod was in awe of John and was protecting him, knowing he was a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard him he would be very disturbed, yet would hear him gladly.
21 Now an opportune time came on his birthday, when Herod gave a banquet for his nobles, military commanders, and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When Herodias’s own daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me whatever you want, and I’ll give it to you.” 23 So he swore oaths to her: “Whatever you ask me I will give you, up to half my kingdom.”
24 Then she went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?”
“John the Baptist’s head!” she said.
25 Immediately she hurried to the king and said, “I want you to give me John the Baptist’s head on a platter—right now!”
26 Though the king was deeply distressed, because of his oaths and the guests he did not want to refuse her. 27 The king immediately sent for an executioner and commanded him to bring John’s head. So he went and beheaded him in prison, 28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother.
Josephus the Jewish historian gives us insight into the life of Herodias, the wife of Herod.
Here incestuous marriage shocked the Jews. She was first married to a step-brother by who she had a daughter named Salome. Next, she married her uncle Philip, then she married Philip’s brother, Herod.
Herod enjoyed listening to the words of John the Baptist, who told him the truth about his relationship with Herodias. Even in this you can see how God was trying to reach Herod, but note that the flesh was still in control, and that Herodias had no shame in her relationships; furthermore, it was the flesh that allowed for the manipulation of Salome.
In Mark 6:14-25, observe Herod’s behavior and how he responds to Salome over his wife, Herodias. That is telling in their present relationship.
John was arrested because of Herodias. Herod was hearing truth, and actually wanted to protect John from Herodias by putting him in prison. When Herodias’ daughter danced, she pleased Herod. The idea of exciting one’s emotions is to be taken away by one’s senses. When the flesh is out of control, it will undo your reasoning and common sense. The flesh will suspend your mind from taking action. In verse 22, the flesh has overtaken Herod. He did something that was out of his control because he responded to the flesh. The flesh cause him to lose all memory of John and what he valued of him. The act of succumbing to the desires of the flesh had tremendous consequences, and later moved Herod to regret his actions.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Note that the Spirit gives you the power to be in control, while the flesh is the essence of being completely out of control.
The true follower of the Spirit through Jesus Christ cannot stay in, or remain in, sin. God disciplines those that he loves.
1 John 5:18
We know that everyone who has been born of God does not sin, but the One who is born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.
Psalm 38:1-10, 18, 21-22
1 Lord, do not punish me in Your anger or discipline me in Your wrath. 2 For Your arrows have sunk into me, and Your hand has pressed down on me.
3 There is no soundness in my body because of Your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. 4 For my sins have flooded over my head; they are a burden too heavy for me to bear.
5 My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness. 6 I am bent over and brought low; all day long I go around in mourning. 7 For my loins are full of burning pain, and there is no health in my body. 8 I am faint and severely crushed; I groan because of the anguish of my heart.
9 Lord, my every desire is known to You; my sighting is not hidden from You. 10 My heart races, my strength leaves me, and even the light of my eyes has faded.
18 So I confess my guilt; I am anxious because of my sin.
21 Lord, do not abandon me; my God, do not be far from me. 22 Hurry to help me, Lord, my Savior.
Thank you, Lord, for revealing unto us your Word. For that who is born to the Spirit will live in the Spirit and grow in the grace and knowledge of God. Thank you for showing us how the flesh can destroy us. We want to be a people dependent upon the Spirit of the living God. Lord, minister to us in this day and age and help us to overcome the flesh. Put within us a hunger for righteousness and Your truth, and the desire to please You. Thank you, in Jesus’ name, Amen.