Sunday, February 6, 2011

Biological Warfare

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24)

As Christians, I am afraid that we often over-spiritualize the term "flesh". While it is true that flesh means more Biblically than just our skin, it is important to realize that our physical body still plays a huge role. Flesh may not be the whole team, but in certain games, it is the star player!!

 I would like to submit that no one understands the meaning of "deny themselves" better than a person who has overcome a biological tendency for something*. Drugs, alcohol, food, lust, anger etc. The predisposition to perform particular sinful acts is inherent to every person. And though we may not realize it, many of them are prompted biologically. The most obvious example is of a person who has become addicted to a substance and developed a biological dependency. That is a situation that most people know about -- dependency, withdrawals, relapse etc. Less obvious examples would be things like: the chemical reactions in the brain that make a person anxious, stressed, on edge etc. That person's body is "setting them up" for whatever sin that they most readily fall into (i.e. anger, depression etc). The same can be said of a physical impulse for sexual desire. Again, the body acts as a sort of "setup", making the choice to embrace lust via pornography or adultery seem practically inevitable. Food and alcohol are doubly dangerous in this regard because the body prompts a person to eat/drink and then whatever is consumed produces chemical reactions that can prompt in other ways. Obviously, I am not a medical doctor and am speaking from very limited and general knowledge about this sort of thing. Nevertheless, I think these things are important to understand, because things that are prompted biologically can easily be excused. "It just comes naturally," as the saying goes. In truth, all sin comes naturally.

My point in saying all of that is to draw attention to something. Here is an example. It is no accomplishment for me to say that I have never used heroine. I have never wanted to use heroine. I have never had to "deny myself" heroine at any point. I have never even seen it!! Unfortunately, there is an epidemic of morally superior Christians who live their lives with a sense of false pride because of all the things that they "don't do", (i.e. don't smoke, don't drink, don't gamble, don't cuss, don't beat my wife etc). But if you talk to Believer who has trusted in God to overcome a biological dependency on something, they are usually not particularly prideful about it. It was a painful and humbling process. They know what it means to truly "deny themselves".

Let me encourage everyone. Do not be prideful of the things that you "don't do". And do not sweep under the rug the sins that you are giving into regularly just because they seem "natural" or because they aren't as publicly offensive as drug abuse.

Galatians 5:16-17 "So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit..."

*Don't misunderstand me. Everything comes back to a spiritual struggle. There are innumerable, deadly serious, struggles that are not as easily linked to biological tendencies. Either way, we must learn to live by the Spirit to overcome the flesh.


  1. 12 years sober... only by the grace of God.

  2. Thank you for posting this. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and you put it into the perfect words. If I were to talk about this myself now, I would invariably end up lifting this wholesale off your blog (sorry).

    One thing I do want to talk about that I see as at least somewhat relevant to this: when people say something like “cut me a break, I’m only human,” as if this were an excuse for making a mistake of some sort. Maybe they don’t use it as justification; maybe they just use say it to avoid a particularly harsh berating. The thing is, neither of these things is okay. Yes, you are human; yes, you will make mistakes; but that doesn’t make it okay when the mistake is made. A mistake is a mistake, regardless of the reasons surrounding its occurrence. And if no one brings to light the fact that it is a mistake, then it just increases the likelihood that it will happen again. I’m pretty sure there are studies that show as much.
    Hold people accountable for the mistakes they make. Even if they hate it, it will help them. Like you said, overcoming an urge of the flesh is no small task. People are going to need all the help they can get. I guess at this point I’m basically advocating an accountability partner; someone to make sure you don’t get to slide when you fall.

    I kinda ended up rambling towards the end there, but hopefully it all made sense. But once again, thank you for posting this.

  3. I agree an excellent post as usual, and the included scripture was helpful and definitely spoke to me. One thing I wish to add is the fact that God always gives a way out - path away from the temptation of sin. Whether one chooses to take it or not is a person's choice. I recognise that these choices can be affected and swayed by 'outside' pressures or lack of understanding/sight of the options in the decision even. However I thank God that He shows me a way through poor judgement when others would in some ways rightly condemn: it is only His grace that is enough. Thank you again for a challenging and wisely written post Jason :) ...I <3 BTA

  4. your a pretty wise dude for a metal head:) ...i totally agree with you jason. i have had some stuff to over come and bad habits to break that were holding me back from experiencing a real relationship with Jesus Christ. but over coming made me so much stronger and able to defend what i believe, and it didnt happen overnight! i dont think anybody truely follows Christ without overcoming Something and denying oneself and fully surrendering to Him. everyones struggle might be a little different, but we all have struggles. good news is God is there waiting for us! we just need to learn to get out of our own way..
    you guys are awesome!
    p.s. pre orders?? post new song??
    cant wait for the new album!!

  5. thanks Jason, I need this today.

  6. Well said Jason. Whatever the struggle may be, it is only by the power of the Spirit that we can even begin to overcome. Without the Spirit we can do nothing.

    Draws my mind to Colossians 3:1-5
    If then you were raised with Christ, seek those thinks which are above....Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth...

    The first step to denying oneself and putting to death the members which cause us to sin is to be raised with Christ.

    The thing that really blows my mind though, is that God's abundant Grace reaches out to us lost sinners when we are still living and enjoying our sinful lives, convicts us, causes us to be regenerated and then we are given the Spirit who helps us on our road to Christ-likeness.

    Truly it is Amazing Grace that saved a wretch like me.

  7. Amen, Jason! Pride comes before a fall. Maybe falling into the sin you were so proud you had never done before.
    Great brain and heart munch.

  8. Hey Jason, I'm reading a book right now called "Competent to Counsel" by Jay E. Adams. It's about the failures of Freudian counseling methods and the way that Biblical counseling ought to take place. It talks about this point of environment, natural tendencies, and "the myth of mental illness." It's a very well written book that is quite pertinent to this post.