“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:” – Colossians 3:5-6
These verses are pretty straight forward, they deal with the fleshes desire to stand in disobedience to God for the sake of satisfying our feelings. It addresses God’s dire view and reaction to those who choose pleasing self over pleasing God, warning us to “mortify” the flesh. The word “mortify” used here in its original Greek was “nekroo” meaning “to make dead, to slay, to deprive of power, or to destroy the strength of“. Therefore, when selfish wants rise up pulling us, our obedience, or even just our attention away from God for the sake of self gratification, it is our job (not Gods) to deprive it of power. The same way it is a wife or husbands responsibility to deprive “themselves” of the desire to commit adultery for the sake of the one they love and are in covenant with. We must do the same lest we be in spiritual adultery, and self idolatry. We must choose to deprive the flesh of power, destroying the strength thereof, and eventually it will die because the devil will not waste his time continuing to tempt you with a tactic that is no longer working. This is the essence of the meaning of the verse in James chapter 4 and verse 7 which says: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Going back to our original passage let’s look at one more unfamiliar word. The word “concupiscence” was not looked upon as an inherently “bad” thing. In fact the puritans taught that it could be a very good thing, depending on the context in which it was applied. You see the word “concupiscence” simply means, “strong desire“. This is probably why the author of Colossians made it a point to identify it as “evil concupiscence“, or a strong desire for something that is in opposition to God’s will. Again we can take this back to the marriage analogy. A strong desire to spend time with your wife is not evil, but a strong desire to spend time with an other woman, is.” In the same way a strong desire to please God is good but a strong desire to please the flesh, when not resisted, is self idolatry. Letting things like pride, lust, gluttony (excess in any form, not just food), jealousy, and even things that are not inherently evil like strong desires, (yet they become evil when we allow them to pull our hearts and minds away from God or His will) when left unchecked will cause us to fall into disobedience, which is sin.
You will prioritize, make time for, and give your attention and energy to what matters most to you. What’s your priority? Feeding your flesh, or your Spirit? You see, there is a battle being waged between our flesh and our spirit, which one wins depends on which one you strengthen, and you strengthen the one you feed the most. This is represented in the act of fasting when one starves the flesh, while feeding the spirit. God will only use those whom He knows He can trust to walk in obedience to His will. Therefore, if we want to be used of God we must choose to deprive our flesh (the essence of fasting) in all areas of selfish fleshly desires, training our flesh to come into submission to the Spirit. We have free will, therefore, we have to choose to follow God’s.
Take the time today to examine your heart’s priorities and desires, that which you give yourself to. If you find that your strong desires are focused more toward pleasing yourself and your flesh then they are toward pleasing God, then do as the adulterous woman did in John 8. Acknowledge your failure, ask God to forgive you, refocus your desire, then go and sin no more.
“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” – Galatians 5:24-25
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” – Matthew 16:24