Identifying and Silencing the Other Voices: The Flesh
Congratulations. You are not crazy. You will be happy to know, you are, in fact, hearing multiple voices in your head. Pretty much all the time.
But did you know that, with practice, you can learn to identify the voices in your head and deal with them in a Biblical way? True story! Loot at this:
In addition to hearing the voice of God, the Bible identifies two other competing voices you hear all the time: the flesh, or the sinful nature (which we will discuss today) and the devil, or evil spirits (which we will talk about next time)
The Flesh, What is it?
Ah…the flesh/sinful nature. We all have one, and, unfortunately, we will fight against it until the day we die. Good times. We may not be able to make it go away (or fit into our skinny jeans), but we can learn how to identify it. Here are a few things good things to know about The Flesh when it speaks:
A. It is always contrary to the Spirit.
B. It is very selfish.
C. It always wants something, it is never happy and it is never satisfied.
D. It is stubborn and unteachable. It can become dogmatic and legalistic. “the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” (Romans 8:7)
E. It is full of pride.
F. It constantly seeks to justify itself.
G. It will often urge us to take the most comfortable way.
H. It lacks self-control. “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” (Romans 7:18)
I. It is deceitful. It doesn’t know what is best for it, and therefore, cannot be trusted. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
“For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.” (Philippians 3:3)
What Does The Flesh Sound Like?
Since we are all uniquely made, the voice of The Flesh sounds different in each person. In me, it speaks with little questions and phrases like this:
What about me?
When am I going to get some time to myself?
Why are my needs always last?
Why can’t I have what she has?
Why are my plans always the ones that have to be changed?
I am completely justified in my feelings/actions/desires.
Leave me alone.
When I listen to this voice and entertain these thoughts, they morph and grow (sometimes within minutes) into fleshly actions and sin that look something like this:
Sleeping too much.
Over-analyzing and over-complicating situations.
Being critical or judgmental of others, especially other writers, moms and Christians.
Becoming overly confident in my ability to handle a situation instead of relying on God.
If you were to make a list, yours would look something like mine, but not exactly—again, because we are unique!
How Do We Handle The Flesh?
What do we do when we discover the voice we are hearing is actually The Flesh or the sinful nature and not God? Here are some Do’s and Don’ts.
1. Don’t ignore it. It only gets louder and stronger.
2. Don’t rebuke it. You can rebuke your flesh all day long and it won’t change a thing. I’ve tried it.
3. Don’t give in to it. This is tricky, because at first, it may feel right, good and God-ish to give in. But the feeling will only last a short time. Before long, you will feel guilty, followed by feeling needy and discontent again, because the flesh is never satisfied.
4. Do take care of your physical needs. Again, tricky. The reality is, we do have to care for our flesh (our physical bodies) while we live on this earth. I firmly believe God wants us to be good stewards of all the things He has given us, including our physical bodies. That means we need to eat healthy food, get proper rest and exercise, and stay warm, dry and clothed. God usually does not require us to deny ourselves our basic health needs. I say “usually” because just as soon as I make a sweeping statement, God’s gonna ask something ridiculous of me—like an extended fast or sleep deprivation or something. So, generally speaking, God expects us to love and take care of our physical bodies. Please keep all that in context as you read the rest of this post. I don’t want any of my readers passing out on me.
5. Do starve the sinful desires of the flesh and feed your spirit with godly things. THIS IS KEY! Anything living thing that is not fed will eventually die. What we feed and nurture will grow and thrive. Practically speaking, that means…
• When the voice inside you tells you to roll over and go back to sleep instead of getting up to pray, starve the desire to sleep and get your bum out of bed. Open up the Word of God. Worship Him. Pray for others.
• When the voice inside you tells you to explode in anger, stop. Remember you have the Spirit of God dwelling in you, and a fruit of that Spirit is self-control. Meditate on scriptures concerning anger and peace.
• When the voice inside you asks, “What about me?” Remind yourself it isn’t about you…it’s about serving God and serving others. Then go do something selfless for someone else.
Crucifixion is ugly. And difficult. And morbid. So, when the Bible tells me to crucify the flesh, I know I’m in for a battle. Not to totally freak you out, but I often picture myself choking the life out of my sinful desires—denying them precious time and energy, and wrestling them to the ground. Sorry. I know that sounds really bizarre, but my flesh can be a very strong opponent! Yet, I am learning that every time I do this—every time I say no to the voice of the flesh and feed my spirit instead—the sinful nature becomes weaker and weaker. And I can hear God’s voice more and more clearly.
And here is the best news of all. God did not call us to be slaves to anything, including our own flesh. His word clearly states that when we have God’s Spirit dwelling in us, we are no longer controlled by our sinful nature. Isn’t that awesome? Take a minute to read this scripture. Don’t skim. It is so very powerful.
What does the voice of the flesh sound like in you? Can you think of a Biblical way to crucify it? Please tell me! Even if it sounds bizarre.
Hi Sandy, what a great post! Very very thought provoking!
About a a year and a half ago I started getting multiple pulmonary embolisms which should have killed me instantly but I survived and I wondered why, why God wanted me here so I began my "conversations with God". I had quite a lot, sometimes they were monologues but a lot of the times I had answers.
Essentially I learned to feed my spirit because my body was becoming so weak anyway through my illnesses. In feeding my spirit, my spirit became stronger, my body naturally became weaker because of illness. I still hear the voices of the flesh. There is a particular scripture that comes to my mind when I need to take care of myself, Matthew 6:28-34
I do all the practical things in life still, I still enjoy my family, I am at the hospital a lot, in my day I find little spots for me to enjoy my garden and talk with God.
Life can get noisy with all the voices but when it's just you and Him it's so beautiful and peaceful.
What a fantastic blog!! I found your blog through Lisa's and I am truly enjoying your writing.
For over 2 years now I have been listening to God's voice and been denying my flesh. God has started this accomplishment through fasting and praying. The more I walk with Him the more I hear His voice and the more I hear His voice the more I yearn to obey Him.
Thanks for using your gift of writing to glorify Him.
Outstanding post. Thank you.
1. I needed this because now i know I'm listening to the WRONG voice (and I'm now mad at myself for not even realising it)
2. This is what i call EXCELLENT!!
3. Sandy you are rocking gal!
Sandy, Your post came at just the right time, isn't God wonderful? I have been able to share your post with several teens in my life whose lives I'm investing in. You put into words things they struggle with (we all struggle with) and it had helped them see practically the voice they are listening to.
Thank you, and know that God is using your words to encourage and teach others. ~Judy
'Just catching up with your posts.
This helped me so much! Often times the voice of the flesh sounds nothing like my voice at all. In fact it sounds like other people are in my head but it’s not a medical issue or demonic, it’s the flesh. Everything that was said lined up exactly with what I’ve been going through. Thanks! God bless!
You’re welcome, Erin. I’m so glad it helped. 🙂
Thank you so much I needed this tonight!