“When you started talking about your flesh at the conference, suddenly, I became laser-focused on what you were teaching. I knew you. We had been friends for years, but I had never heard you share any of this from your own life and Scripture. I already understood that Christ was my life but I began to realize that I didn’t understand my own flesh.” This was the story of Pastor Dave Bounds in Virginia. I had traveled to his church to teach our Grace Life Conference. He was seated at the back of the church and thought he already knew what I was going to teach. To his surprise, the Conference was a turning point for him. Jesus used it to cause him to experience his freedom in Christ at a depth he had never known. Dave ended up helping me start the ministry now known as Grace Life International. He was our first Vice-President and Director of Training. Today he meets with pastors one-on-one back in Virginia, to help many understand these same truths that transformed his own life.
What Dave experienced is a phenomenon we see regularly in our ministry. Understanding grace from Scripture is deeply needed. We experience grace daily as we depend on Christ as Life, our identity in Christ, freedom from the law, and our complete forgiveness. Without this, people will be unable to move forward from their struggles and/or legalism. Why? It’s because this information is relatively unknown in Christendom. Yet, it doesn’t pack as big of a punch unless a person is shown their unique flesh. One example of this uniqueness is that a wife’s and husband’s flesh are rarely the same.
What is the flesh? It’s the strategies for living we develop to try to meet our own needs depending on our own resources instead of Christ in us. These are unique strategies that are developed around lies. In general, a person may have flesh that is positive, negative, or a combination of the two. This is what our counselors, coaches, and teachers help people discover as an essential part of the grace truths. Here are a few Scriptures about the flesh:
The mind set on the flesh is death but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:6). (It’s very helpful to discover what lies our minds are focusing on so we can replace them with God’s truth.)
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want (Galatians 5:16-17). (We truly want to live like who we are in Christ but our flesh opposes this.)
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction (Galatians 6:8). (This is usually when people come to see us. Their flesh is causing problems that are making them or others miserable.)
Do you know what your unique flesh strategies are that you deal with? It’s important that you do because those are weaknesses that Satan will take advantage of to defeat you. Once you know them, then the Biblical truths of grace will be the sword that you can use to defeat him according to Ephesians 6:17.
As Neil Anderson famously said, “Freedom from spiritual conflicts and bondage is not a power encounter; it’s a truth encounter.”