The flesh dies hard. It’s resistant and resilient—resisting every attempt to slay it and recovering despite my repeated attempts to put it to death.

An emphasis of the Christian life is putting to death the works of the flesh.

We don’t have to look far to find the flesh trying to thwart God’s best plan for our life. The Lord puts high priority on self-denial and self-discipline. The flesh craves self-indulgence.

Self is not used to being denied. Anything it wants, usually it gets. Denial is an unfamiliar word.

My spoiled Self hasn’t pulled me into any big trouble lately. It’s been content dabbling in a little naughtiness—fear, ingratitude, discouragement.

I wanted a closer walk with Jesus, but Self kept clinging to the old life. God wanted my whole heart, but Self rebelled every inch of the way. How well I identify with Paul’s predicament in Romans 7.

“For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [which my moral instinct condemns]” (v. 15).

“For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.] For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am [ever] doing” (v. 18-19).

“O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death?” (v. 24).

Following that cry of desperation comes this confident declaration, “O thank God! [He will!] through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) our Lord!” (v. 25).

Jesus laid out the plan for following him. “If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also]” ” (Matthew 16:24).

I wanted to know more about these two aspects of following Jesus—cleave steadfastly and conform wholly.

I wanted to know more about these two aspects of following Jesus—cleave steadfastly and conform wholly. Click To Tweet

Webster’s dictionary and my computer Thesaurus gave insight.

Steadfast: firmly fixed in place; immovable; not subject to change; unwavering, unfaltering, unswerving.

This brought to mind a favorite verse, Hebrews 10:36. “For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised.”

Paul wrote this in 2 Thessalonians 1:4. “And this is a cause of our mentioning you with pride among the churches (assemblies) of God for your steadfastness (your unflinching endurance and patience) and your firm faith in the midst of all the persecutions and crushing distresses and afflictions under which you are holding up.”

Unflinching is an awesome word—unwavering, constant, steady, undaunted, persistent, resolute (Thesaurus).

Hebrews 11:27 says this about Moses. “[Motivated] by faith he left Egypt behind him, being unawed and undismayed by the wrath of the king; for he never flinched but held staunchly to his purpose and endured steadfastly as one who gazed on Him Who is invisible.”

Second Timothy 4:5 says, “As for you, be calm and cool and steady, accept and suffer unflinchingly every hardship…”

Conform wholly means to the full or entire extent; completely; to the exclusion of other things; solely.

Steadfast. Unflinching. Conforming wholly to Christ’s example. That’s how I want to live. That’s how I choose to live.

God never intended for us to struggle through this life day after day. He meant for us to empty ourselves—of self—so he can fill us to overflowing with the luscious fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Our inner life dominated by the Holy Spirit should impact our outer life so we are no longer controlled by the flesh clamoring to have its own way. We can say no to our stubborn flesh!

Our inner life dominated by the Holy Spirit should impact our outer life so we are no longer controlled by the flesh. Click To Tweet

The Christian life is a process of being conformed to the image of Jesus. I used to think we must stay as close to him as we can get. It’s easier than that. We recognize we are attached to the Vine and abide there with full confidence in him.

Jesus said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5 KJV).

Would you tell me how the presence of Christ makes a difference in your life and decision-making? And please share this with your friends!

© Dianne Barker 2019

(Scriptures from The Amplified Bible unless noted)