The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. [Galatians 5: 19-21]
The moment we come out of our mother’s womb we have a propensity to sin. It comes so natural to us that we hardly think it’s wrong. Yet, deep down in our spirit we know it is. It’s crazy how the flesh can rule our bodies and our minds making us think we have no control. The still small voice that we grew accustomed to listening to is the one that demands that we gratify it, day after day. As living beings, these impulses mature over time and become the ones that Paul talks about thats wrong. But, sometimes these impulses are pre-mature because we may have experienced or seen them as children. It’s no wonder our world is so messed up. How do we know to do better unless the Holy Spirit teaches us?
As a child, I recall indecent things I have done not fully mature enough to know that I shouldn’t because I was more consumed with the way it felt. Can you relate? Have you ever watched Jumanji? I am pretty sure that it’s witchcraft. But it’s a game kids play. When you watch the movie it seems more like an adventure. You see, it’s hard to tell that something is bad because most of the time as children we are so curious. I know I was. Have you played spin the bottle? Maybe that’s not a game these days, but when I was 10 years old I played it. How do children truly know that it’s actually bad to do something without someone telling them? And yet, this is how all the inclinations to sin begin. After a while, the things we did as children become habits. And you know what they say about habits when they are formed…they are hard to change.
Have you had a drunk for a father? or a smoker or drug addicted mother? How does a child undo those experiences from their minds? It takes a strong child to see cigarettes lying around a house and not touch it. And when you see your parents having fits of rage towards each other, don’t you grow up thinking that’s how you speak to your spouse? The way we change is when we learn to become better. When we read, when we see other people’s parents acting civil, maybe even going to see a therapist will show us alternative behaviours. But before then, we are like a body of past experiences acting out in our present. As much as we have this powerful ability to think, we aren’t always using it. We prefer to rely on what we have seen- our experiences.
I am saying that our human nature easily gravitates to the things that aren’t always good for us. And our culture doesn’t help, in fact it encourages such behaviours. When I went to college, I decided that this is when I was supposed to have sex and get drunk. As a seventeen year old leaving home for the first time (especially one that felt that I missed out in high school), I had my mind set on these things and it didn’t matter what order they came in. I wasn’t looking for a long term relationship, I was looking to check the boxes of life experiences. Get drunk at 19 years old- check, go clubbing in university – check. Over the years, I had to learn from the experiences, especially when they left a negative impact.
Paul just wants us to know that the things we think are okay and we have no control over them, they are hurting us deeply. Our sins do not have control over us. According to Romans 6:12-13, “Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.
Have you ever suffered a broken heart and you thought this was never going to go away? But, one day, it does. Or, have you ever been hungry and you weren’t able to eat for a long time, but you realize it wasn’t going to kill you? That’s how sin feels. It is so powerful that you think you have no other choice but to give in- one more drink, indulge in the witchcraft one last time, one more cigarette, buy that gorgeous sports car instead of paying child support… the list goes on. You can change. And you can do it right now.
READ MORE: Do you ever feel powerless?
Finally, “don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living” (Romans 6:16). I say, take control of your own mind and body, and do not let it control you.