July 15, 2017

Crucify the Flesh

Galatians 5:16-26

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

—  Galatians 5:24

“I couldn’t help it,” said Jack. “It” was his lust, which he frequently fed. “I just lost it,” said Jill. What she lost was control of her sharp tongue, which she regularly used to cut people down. Some think there’s no use fighting “it.”

A Far Side cartoon by Gary Lar­son depicts a woman clinging for dear life to a parking meter. She is being sucked off her feet, as if by a huge vacuum, pulled toward the door of a candy store. I understand the temptation, since I absolutely love chocolate! But, of course, eating chocolate is not a sin. Obsessing over it or overindulging in it, though, can be sinful. For any of us, temptations to sin can be so strong that they can be hard to resist.

Paul says we must crucify “the flesh”—our sinful passions and desires. We might think this is simply a vivid metaphor. But that is not the case. Believing in Christ, our spirits are united with him in his death on the cross.

Every day we must put to death “the acts of the flesh,” such as sexual immorality, hatred, jealousy—today’s verses list a host of offenses. Such sins wage war on our souls and play havoc with our relationships.

Crucifying the flesh—saying “No!” to the passions that besiege us—is torture, just as crucifixion was a form of torture. But with God’s help and through the power of the Holy Spirit, it can be done.

Thank you Father, that we are united with Christ in his death and resurrection, and that your Spirit lives within us. Help us to grow in godliness. Amen.

About the author — George Young

George Young, a native New Yorker, worked as a taxi driver in New York City before studying to become a pastor. Then he, his wife Ruth, and their children were missionaries for many years in northeastern Japan. They worked with ministers and believers from the Reformed Church in Japan to spread the good news of salvation in Christ and ­establish new churches. Now George and Ruth are retired and live in the northeastern United States, nearer to their children and grandchildren.

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