According to the world of statisticians, by this time of the year, most New Year's resolutions have gone by the wayside. The diets have been blown, the cigarettes have been relit and the exercise plans have been forgotten. We are such weak creatures, especially we spoiled Americans. We live for convenience and self-gratification.
Paul speaks to the weakness of our flesh many times throughout his writings. He most clearly addresses this when he states: "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection." (I Cor. 9: 27). In other words, we must not allow the flesh to rule our lives. Our fleshly weaknesses and desires will destroy our lives and the lives of those around us. And this goes way beyond a simple diet plan or exercise regimen. Our flesh will take us to places we never thought we would go. I hear this from the men at Huttonsville Correctional Center every day.
Paul's admonition to flee fornication (I Cor. 6: 18-20) is one of those battles that plague many today. Our society is so sexually driven that a Christian must be continually on guard to not get caught up in the lust of the flesh. Fornication in scripture speaks to any sexual act outside of marriage. Paul speaks to the depth of harm sexual sins bring upon an individual. "He that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body." (I Cor. 6:18). Whether it is pornography, prostitution, extramarital, polygamy or any of the other more than 400 recognized sexual deviances, the wound goes deep.
Paul's warning is to be taken seriously, flee from such acts of the flesh. Paul clearly states why - our body is the temple, the dwelling place of God. Once we are saved, our body no longer belongs to us. We have been bought with the blood of Christ; therefore, we should flee fornication.
We must bring our bodies into subjection (I Cor. 9: 24-27) as those who are athletic do to prepare for a race. The problem is that we are such a self-gratifying society that we will never tell our bodies "No" to bring it into subjection. Do you wonder why obesity, high blood pressure and anxiety are such epidemics in America? We are not willing to tell our bodies and minds "No." And church members are no different!
If we are going to run a Godly race, our bodies cannot control our actions. "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, that ye obey it in the lusts thereof." (Rom. 6: 12, 13). As a pastor, it never ceases to amaze me how little of an excuse it takes for people to stay home from church. We leave the comforts of our beautiful homes, which God has given us, to ride to church in our air-conditioned cars. We arrive at church, which is also a beautiful edifice provided by God, just in time to join the service (we can't get up in time to go to Sunday School). We sit in our padded pews (and no one better be sitting in our seat) with the air conditioning cracking, singing "I surrender all to Jesus." I wonder how true this is, what have we truly surrendered? Do we truly have our fleshly bodies in subjection? Remember the world is watching all we do. (Rom. 14: 7)