Chapter 5b: Abdicating the Throne of Flesh
“For we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh…(Philippians 3:3, NAS).”
“Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest (Ephesians 2:3, NAS).”
Definition of Circumcision: removal of the foreskin or prepuce of the male genital organ
In the natural, circumcision is a customary, religious practice of being set apart from other people groups by removing a layer of skin not required for life. It is removed as a symbol of purity. One is born with it but is not necessary to sustain life, much like the appendix or gallbladder. Spiritually, God calls His people to be “set aside” through circumcision. We’re all born with a fleshly, sinful nature, but it must be cut away so as to be set aside unto God. It has everything to do with characteristics and predispositions with which we are all born. To say, “I was born this way” as if to excuse sin or bad behavior is invalid before God. We’re all born with characteristics, flaws and temptations that, once in Christ, must be abdicated to God through spiritual circumcision. For that matter, we’re all born little babies, but we do not remain in such a form.
To be circumcised in Christ means you live only unto Christ and you willingly cut away that which is displeasing to the King. It is a matter of surrendering everything. “Put no confidence in the flesh” Paul says, by definition, the flesh is defiled. The fleshly nature of mankind is a heavy yoke no one can bear very long. It is condemned and can breed only corruption, no exemptions. There is no exclusive club comprised of people who are born into righteousness. We are all born into the nature of the world with our minds corrupt from birth. There are natural weaknesses that don’t need to be kept and controlled; they need to be forfeited altogether for the cause of Christ.
A baby or young child may be innocent from blatant sin, but a child naturally knows how to manipulate with crying, whining, begging, nagging and things of the like. It comes naturally figuring out quickly how to get what it wants. That isn’t innocence, that’s the sin nature at work without even realizing what’s happening.
It is crucial you and I understand we are all born into the sin nature of Adam. There is no good person good enough that God would look upon them and say, “Okay, you, you and you are exempt from resigning the Adamic nature because I like your style!” Jesus said, “Why do you call me good? There is no one good but God (Matthew 19:16; Romans 7:18).” True circumcision is spiritual and it is a matter of cutting away that which divides you from intimacy with God.
All God’s people should desire and pray that “the natural will become unnatural and the supernatural of God become natural.” Translation: you personally should be so attuned to and led by Holy Spirit that acting worldly becomes unnatural, and operating supernaturally, as God, becomes everyday life. In this condition, whatever unholy characteristics are present with which we are born, they are brought into submission to the Holy One so that He will reign in their stead.
“They (the righteous) will have no fear of bad news” reads Psalm 112:7. For anyone who walks with God who has a chronically ill child, this verse alone has the power to uplift the most downtrodden in the darkest of times. God’s promise to those who love Him and keep his commands is that the righteous will never be forsaken, they will never be shaken.
I speak as one who is, through Jesus’ blood, the righteous seed of Abraham. As such, I have no fear of bad news because I trust the One who upholds His word as well as our family. Over the last 9 years, especially the last 3, I have watched Sophia go up and come down thousands of times over. One by one, we hear a diagnosis for this and for that. Just last week they determined she has dysautonomia, a malfunction of the nervous system. Three times in a week she had to get IV fluids because her body can’t retain them. This is causing chronic dehydration, fevers and tachycardia. Our next step is to visit the neurologist and cardiologist.
I can say without hesitation, I have no fear of bad news because my confidence lies in the God of all creation. It does not mean I like what’s happening or that I am enjoying watching my daughter suffer. It does mean I believe beyond what I see. I trust all things work together for good for those who love God. My heart is secure in Jesus, the Christ. I will praise Him all the more until I see heavenly, divine results concerning Sophia. My encouragement is in personally knowing who God is; in such intimate knowledge, it overrides temporary discouragement.
“Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor (Psalm 112:6-9).”
Chapter Five: Abdicating the Throne of Flesh, part I
“but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified (I Corinthians 9:27, NAS).”
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (Romans 12:1, NAS).”
Definition of Abdicate: renounces one’s throne. Synonyms: disown, renounce, give up, refuse, relinquish, repudiate, abandon, turn one’s back on, wash one’s hands of, forgo, waive, abjure
I love this word “abdicate” because it is so in line with the meaning of “deny self”, “die to self”, “take up your cross”, “surrender”, “living sacrifice” and other expressions of ridding our person of the nature of the flesh. We, mankind, have made our flesh our throne from which we rule and no one can tell us what to do – not even God.
We worship self by following our heart when we should deny the heart. Jeremiah 17:9 reads, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” No possible hope can be found in the heart of a man separate from the heart of Jehovah. This is why it is a matter of life and death that we disown the throne we have made of ourselves and abdicate to the King of kings. Do you remember the definition of “surrender” in chapter three? It is to “cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.” The throne of self is the enemy of the Throne of God and must submit.
Since Christ is our only hope, it makes sense that one would have to concede unto the One who can save those who are lost. We must deny ourselves if we are to expect anything of the Lord, especially strength. It’s all too easy for the flesh to appear strong when there are no real struggles afoot but, when things begin to go awry, we can’t help but acknowledge the glaring weakness of the flesh.
Paul, a mighty warrior for the Kingdom gospel, said he “made his body a slave”. This is because he understood full well how askew the flesh of man is, no matter the man, no matter how closely that man walks with the Lord. In fact, it was because of his close relationship with the Lord that he understood the intensely sinful nature of mankind. He went on to say that he made his body a slave so that “I myself will not be disqualified”. Many a person of God has fallen away due to the fleshly nature they refused to abandon, all the while preaching salvation to others.
We read in Mark 8 that, for those who want to save their life, they will lose it and vice versa. We cannot rightly attempt to hold to this life and somehow force it into morality so as to please God. The flesh must be acknowledged and rendered as dead since it already is. This is taking up our cross – it is death to self. The flesh will never be transformed into the image of God; therefore, it cannot be allowed to thrive even when we believe it to be “under control.”
If Jesus had to give up His life due to the nature of the flesh, this tells us the flesh is defiled beyond restoration. Christ did not give up His life that we may have ours; He gave up His life that we may have His. We are to take on His life into our mortal shell. We try too hard as “Christians” to will our flesh into submission or, in other words, we try to keep it controlled, much like a pet Rattlesnake. It is impossible to control the uncontrollable long-term. It must be extinguished; it must be 100% subjected to the holiness of Almighty God. This is the only possible way to become self-controlled – subjected and surrendered to Christ’s life.
You will read this in all my writings because it is all throughout God’s Word. The Bible is clear. The flesh being forced into morality is not the solution. It is weak and we must stop pretending it is strong enough to allow us to overcome our circumstances. To get to the root, flesh is not only weak but altogether defiled and dead in the sight of God; it is irreversibly cursed. It can never produce enough strength or power to aid you in a torrential downpour of life.
Changing How You Feel:
In a nutshell, you cannot feel differently until you see differently. How you see God will determine how you view situations and people. How you evaluate circumstances and the people surrounding you will directly determine how you feel, good or bad. How you feel will determine how you act and react. This is how a new perspective will change your course.
For example, after my first divorce, I hated my ex-husband and I was angry with everyone around me who didn’t warn me against marrying him. Later, once I really began to see God for who He is and how I didn’t listen when He sent a million warnings, my perception of the situation changed. When my vantage point was altered, I was compelled to hold myself to accountability; my finger-pointing turned inward. My feelings of hatred and bitterness, sorrow and hopelessness transitioned into something else altogether. Love, compassion, forgiveness, and so on, replaced the negative.
We all have feelings and, nine times out of ten, they’re a lie and extremely unhealthy! My 13 year old daughter said to me the other day, “I’ve always felt this way” as if that justified her skewed and unpleasant behavior. I explained to her that her emotions about the situation were not of love, but of selfishness. I didn’t condemn her; rather, I shared with her another way of looking at her negative situation so as to help her grow out of her natural feelings and into a heavenly mindset. I had to lend her a broader view so that she would have the tools to see differently which led her to feel differently which led to responding better.
Too often, people spend countless days, weeks and years tirelessly attempting with futility to change the way they feel citing, “I know I shouldn’t feel this way, I just do.” I don’t know about you, but the harder I’d try to change my feelings, the more solidified I would become in them! Far too long I did not understand that, until I could perceive a matter with different eyes, my feelings would remain unaltered.
One who identifies with the King of kings cannot continue in hatred or anything of the natural, old Adamic nature. Hatred (and things of the like) rules when one cannot properly see Christ, His love, His compassion, mercy and grace. It’s easy to be embittered against an oppressor until you begin to look beyond the surface and see into their life; to recognize what caused them to be a certain way. More importantly, when we begin to identify with the power of the cross of Christ and the Kingdom He came preaching and teaching, it is impossible to remain in the feelings of standard human emotion.
When All My Strength Has Failed
Chapter 3, part II
Alexys V. Wolf
Chapter Three: Gaining a New Perspective, part I
“The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; the Lord raises up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous (Psalm 146:8, NAS).”
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18, NAS).”
Definition of Perspective: a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.
Definition of Surrender: cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority. Synonyms: forsake, deny, stand down, resign, disclaim, relinquish, forgo, cede, abandon, concede, yield, submit, relent, renounce, abdicate, transfer
Graham Cooke said, “Obstacles are a part of life. There is often no way to avoid them. However, there is a way to change our perspective so they can be used to our advantage.” Everything we do hinges on our perspective of what’s happening to us, for us, against us and around us. It is common knowledge that, with every action, there is a reaction. How we respond to things around us is always based on what we perceive is happening, be it good or bad.
For example, when my first husband left me with a note on the coffee table, I perceived it as the worst thing that could possibly happen to me. I was raised that Christians do not divorce, no matter what. Even though he had cheated, lied, mocked, neglected, shunned, and altogether broke our covenant vows in every conceivable way, I deemed his departure as a negative. I cried, and cried and cried and cried some more. I begged him to come home and be the man he was supposed to be. I willingly forgave him and was willing to put it all behind us.
When he did not comply, I began tail-spinning into a dark, sad, lonely, angry, desperate place for the better part of seven years, to which I refer as my “seven years of rebellion”. I slept with men not my husband, cussed like a sailor, I spoke harsh words to a long-time friend, and couldn’t stop pretending I was fine. Because I couldn’t see the grace of God causing him to leave, I couldn’t properly respond. My eyes were blinded and I blamed everyone except the culprit: me.
Yes, he did horrible, despicable things but, had I initially sought the face of God, I wouldn’t have married him. Looking back, the signs were evident. I simply refused to acknowledge them. If I could have perceived God’s voice prior to marriage, the marriage would not have happened; hence I would not have experienced undue pain and suffering. It is only when we seek God’s vision in each situation of life that we are able to see as He sees so as to respond according to the Spirit instead of according to the flesh.
Once I returned to and resigned my whole life to Christ in 2000, I began a new, fresh journey with Christ as I had never known or experienced. I began to see that, even though I had made a huge mess of my life due to poor decisions, God’s promise to “turn all things for good for those who love Him” was for me personally. Instead of trying in my own strength to “pick up the pieces,” I was fully able to leave all the pieces behind me and allow Christ to make a whole new me. The old pieces were not required and certainly me having to “pick up” anything of the old was not necessary.
Understanding this, my decisions, little by little, began to morph into something new, something altogether other-worldly. My discernment sharpened and continues to do so today. Every time I need to make a decision and I don’t readily know what to do, I rest in Christ and wait. I allow Him to show me what to do when the time comes.
In the worst circumstances, in the weakest places of life, before you do anything, ask God to grant you His vision, His perspective, and His will so as to go forward in His strength. A changed perspective will change the course of your life because it will change how you respond to everything. When you surrender your fleshly, natural, limited vision to the Holy One, you’ll be amazed at how darkness will be turned to light!
When All My Strength Has Failed
Alexys V. Wolf
“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41, NAS).”
“And those being in the flesh are not able to please God (Romans 8:8, NAS).”
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 (ESV)
“My soul weeps because of grief; strengthen me according to Your word (Psalm 119:28, NAS).”
The fleshly nature of every human ever to walk the Earth is the same: it wants what it wants and it is weak in every way. One person may appear better than another, but rest assured, all flesh is unholy, unrighteous and is weak even when it appears the most powerful and strong. Galatians spells out the evidence of the flesh:
- sexual immorality
- fits of anger
- things of like nature
There isn’t a moral enough person on the planet that has not, at some point, operated in at least one of the evidences of the natural man. Because of the rampant weaknesses of the flesh, why would anyone assume they have the power to be strong enough to overcome temptations, weaknesses, or tribulations? Strength is not a part of the flesh, contrary to popular belief. We’re taught to be strong, be tough, as though the flesh can possibly (in and of itself) muster enough power to endure the pitfalls of this condemned, Satan-run world.
Sure, it can definitely have the appearance of strength; after all, it also has the appearance of life even though Jesus crucified the nature of the flesh of all mankind. The Bible tells us we have all been crucified into Christ’s death (all are dead in sin), but not all are resurrected in the life of Christ. The flesh is so weak that, in fact, the first people created in God’s image lived in utopia and still could not control the desires of wicked, weak flesh. There, Adam and Eve stood with power to subdue the entire Earth, but that wasn’t enough. The fleshly nature, at the first sight of temptation, longed for more and purposed to take what it desired even though death was their fate.
We should never be surprised at the ultimate frailty of our flesh because, at it’s core, it can’t be anything else. So, yes, we can have the outward façade of strength; just don’t be astounded when it suddenly crumbles under the pressures of this life. Christ is our only hope, our only strength, our only possible solace in time of trouble. Throughout this book, I have inserted several passages from my first book, What Was God Thinking? Why Adam had to Die, because the topic at hand is in direct correlation to dying to the flesh.
Chapter 2, When All My Strength has Failed