Lust of the flesh is a desire gone awry. It is often thought of as immoral sexual desires. But if you want to really understand the lust of the flesh and how to overcome it, you need to be aware that fleshly desires are often what drive us to act. When those actions do not align with God’s desires, we know they are of the flesh.
Think about Jesus’ time in the wilderness. He was hungry. He needed and desired nourishment. However, He refused to get that need met through ungodly methods—from the devil himself.
“And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him…”—Matthew 4:2-3 (emphasis added)
The desires you have may not be evil in and of themselves. But when we use the enemy’s ways of meeting them, as opposed to God’s, we have just traded joy for temporary satisfaction.
God does want us to have desires. He just wants to be the source of them.
“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”—Psalm 37:4
What Does the Bible Say about the Lust of the Flesh?
“For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”—1 John 2:16
There is no place for earthly desires in the presence of God. The Holy Spirit and the Word provide direction and revelation about what is of the flesh and what is from God. When we lust after things of the flesh, we can know who is really behind our motivation.
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”—Galatians 5:16
“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”—James 1:14-15
Fleshly desire—that is pleasure-seeking behavior—is what draws us away from God’s presence. And when it takes over in your life, it brings forth death.
“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”—Colossians 3:5 (emphasis added)
Put. To. Death. Those are strong words. But this tells you how serious these earthly desires can be and how they can prevent us from stepping into our assignment.
[Go HERE to read more about how Jesus overcame and how the Lord is perfecting your faith.]
When we leave room for the lust of the flesh in our lives, it opens doors for the enemy to steal our blessings and inheritance.
How Did Jesus Respond to the Lust of the Flesh?
In the wilderness, Jesus responded to temptation by waiting for the Father to provide. He could have made bread from a stone, but He wanted nothing the devil had to offer.
Because He knew if he took it, destruction would continue. There would be no hope of reconciliation between us and the Father. So, He waited.
What happened while He waited? The enemy threw more offers at Him. But He maintained His resistance and, “then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him” (see Matthew 4:11).
When the enemy tempts you to give into the flesh, and you resist, he will then try a different tactic. But when you remain faithful, the devil flees, and another exchange happens on the trading floors of heaven…
“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”—Revelation 3:21 (emphasis added)
What Are the Symptoms of the Lust of the Flesh? Signs the Lust of the Flesh Is Operating in Your Life
The lust of the flesh is often thought of as “sexual desires or immorality.” But it can be anything that tempts you to overindulge. If you identify with any of these signs of fleshly desires, you could be chained by the lust of the flesh.
- Pleasure-Seeking Behavior | Addiction
Addiction is a very real struggle for many today, from drugs and alcohol to pornography and food. It is something we use to meet our needs that are not from God. Today, we even struggle with addiction to technology.
What is the first thing you do when you wake up? If you answered, “look at my phone,” it could be time to ask the Lord to do a work in your heart. The phone is not evil. It can be used to connect with the ones you love and it provides an abundance of useful information. But it is our obsession with it that crosses the line.
Ask the Lord to reveal what is vying for your heart.
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”—1 Corinthians 6:12
- Idle Hands | Laziness
Most people would not describe themselves as being lazy, but when we are seeking pleasure, sometimes that means we want what is comfortable and easy. We don’t want to take on anything that is challenging because it is “too hard.” In reality, it could be that we are fearful of failure.
The Bible warns against idleness. Not only is it self-serving, but the consequences can also leave you “hungry.” That is an open door for the enemy to put things not from heaven in front of you (see James 1:17).
Laziness makes our faith idle, and we cannot hear the voice of God as loud as we once could. We start to go through the motions rather than move mountains.
Ask the Lord what He wants your next step to be. He has something great for you just ahead.
“Laziness casts one into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger.”—Proverbs 19:15
- Satisfying Hunger | Gluttony
Food is everywhere. It is the center of gatherings with family and friends and holiday celebrations. Food is obviously not bad; it is something we need. However, if overindulgence becomes part of your regular routine, you could be satisfying your hunger with earthly desires.
God has prepared a place at His table, and He wants you to enjoy, but He still wants His temple— your body—healthy.
“Do not mix with winebibbers, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.”—Proverbs 23:20-21
The food we feed our body is meant to sustain us so that we can fulfill our assignment.
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”—1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Ask God to reveal to you what your real needs are, and petition for Him to fulfill them. Ask Him to manifest the spirit of self-control in your life so that you can step into and focus on your assignment.
- Words that Tear Down | Gossip
Think about the words you speak. Do they build up or tear down? A close cousin to idleness is gossip.
Words are powerful, and God wants us to use them to further His kingdom, not tear it down from the inside out.
“And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.”—1 Timothy 5:13
Before words come out of the mouth, they begin as thoughts. Take those thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ, seasoned with salt so that they may benefit all who hear.
Breaking the Chains of Lust of the Flesh (Pleasures of the Flesh) in Your Life
Take each distortion and disarm it with God’s Word. Come before the Righteous Judge and break the chains of fleshly desires. Are any of these issues part of the norm in your family? Perhaps overindulgence seems to have been passed down from generation to generation.
The Bible is useful for teaching and correcting (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Ask the Holy Spirit now to cleanse your heart and renew a right spirit with you. Let these words wash over and penetrate those hidden places in your heart.
Because you belong to the Lord, you are not a slave to sin anymore! You have the power to overcome!
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”—2 Corinthians 10:4-6
Schedule your 1-on-1 prayer appointment today! We would love to come into agreement with you for your breakthrough and freedom from the spirit of the lust of the flesh!
Did you miss the other articles in this series? You can get caught up by clicking on the links below.