Feeding the Flesh

“A companion of gluttons shames his father”Prov 28:7

The struggle between flesh and Spirit is becoming more clear to me. They are diametrically opposed. Flesh leads to death; Spirit leads to life and peace (Rom 8:5-8). But unlike the Buddhist philosophy, flesh does not refer to all that is physical from which one must strive to be detached. Flesh is the sinful nature, the tendency to make oneself god and his or her pleasure the ultimate end of all. I’m afraid that I still subtly serve my flesh.

As in this proverb, it can be as natural as eating, but it becomes gluttony. This is a perfect example of the distinction that must be made between flesh and the physical. There is nothing wrong with eating (physical), but we can make it an end and enjoyment above God (flesh). There is nothing wrong with the enjoying the pleasure of eating either. And while it seems ridiculous that a person could place it above God, it is quite possible. It is not a conscious choice of worship. It is the longing and drive of the heart. Anything that we live for that is not God is idolatry.

My own concern is not that something like eating motivates my life. My concern, though, is in exercising a certain level of carelessness in eating, such as eating too much of anything and especially that which is not good for me. Not only does this carelessness have definite physical consequences, but it also feeds my flesh. When we take the good things that God gives us and use them outside of the purpose and limits for which he has given them to us, then we are serving the flesh.

Genesis 19: Lot the Loser

Lot was a despicable man. When begging the men of Sodom not to ask for his angelic guests, he offered his own virgin daughter for them to have their way! He reasoned that he was responsible for the men since they “have come under the shelter of my roof.” Are his daughters not even more so under the shelter of his roof? What a gross failure to value, love, and protect his daughters. I would hate to think how he cared for them each day if he would do this. It seems that men should fight and sacrifice to protect their women and children. Then, in the face of grave warnings, Lot lingered in the city. He clearly had allowed his heart to be poisoned by the flesh and sin of the city. He had trouble pulling away. The fact that he dwelt here at all is an obvious statement about his judgment. His wife also had been hooked, evidenced by her disregard for the warning not to look back.

After escaping with only his two daughters, Lot lived in fear. His fear was first revealed when he asked the men not to make him go to the hills. Ultimately, though, fear drove him out of the city to live in a cave. To live in fear is not just cowardly, but a revelation of Lot's lack of relationship with and trust in the Lord.

The scheming of his daughters, in addition to the heart of his wife, also reveals the quality of Lot and how he had failed to teach them the ways of God and his care for them. The abhorrence of Lot is finally emphasized by the ease with which his daughters were able to get him drunk and sleep with him.

Lot was a selfish, cowardly, irresponsible, foolish, fleshly, gullible, undisciplined man. And although I despise him, I pity him. Most of all, I am shaken by the fact that we all have the capacity to come to such a condition. May I entrust myself to God and obey and trust him. May I bravely teach, care for, and protect my family. May I maintain a heart of purity and a disciplined mind and body. May I be alert to evil, danger, and temptation.