Here is an essay I wrote back in 2000, before I came clean with my wife and family. I had plenty of knowledge, but wasn’t living by it:
1John 2:16 says “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” These are three destroyers that may overwhelm the human spirit. The lust of the eyes is a destroyer of spiritual relationship, taking one’s eyes off the appropriate target (God, one’s wife, a God-given job, God’s provision) and stirring up discontentment (Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods). Jesus makes it clear in Matthew 5:28 that “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart”, thus destroying the spiritual relationship with his wife and God.
The lust of the flesh is a destroyer of physical relationships. It pollutes what 1Corinthians 6:19 calls “the temple of the Holy Ghost”. Abuse of the body through drugs or gluttony or fornication reduces the mere physical ability to serve the Lord. Of the marriage relationship, Mark 10:8 says “And they twain shall be one flesh.” Adultery and fornication introduce multiple persons into that one flesh, detracting forever from the marriage relationship ordained by God. While I do not believe a Christian can be possessed by a demon, I do think that indulging the lust of the flesh invites the presence of demons and their influence.
The pride of life is a destroyer of self, putting oneself on a level higher than that ordained by God. One cannot be prideful and also be a true servant, because a servant must not put self first. In John13:14 Jesus set the example and told his apostles, “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Too often we are captivated instead by Satan’s sin, “”: For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:” as he says in Isaiah 14:13. When we suffer from this “I” disease, we must be cast down and broken before being built back up by God into the Christians we are meant to be – extremely painful, but necessary.
All three – the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life – are rooted in selfishness. To break free, we must be true Christians (“little Christs”), and live as selflessly as the God/man we model ourselves after.
The other side of the coin is man’s spirit, which must be properly fed to withstand these attacks of the flesh. Genesis 1:26 says “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”, while John 4:24 says “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Thus our spirit is the portion of man created in God’s image, designed for worship and fellowship with Him.
Diligent study of God’s Word (either the written word or in the person of Jesus Christ – John 1:1) is required to learn how God would have us live. 2Timothy 3:16 says “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Action is useless if it is for the wrong reasons, and the Word teaches us what should truly motivate the spirit – love.
John 16:3 tells us “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.” The Spirit of God is sent to come alongside us to lend guidance in our daily Christian life. The Holy Spirit is the “still small voice” mentioned in 1Kings 19:12 which speaks directly to one’s own spirit giving direction, motivation, and adding strength to the desire to perform God’s will. Without the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of wisdom and of understanding” (Isaiah 11:2) it is impossible to correctly understand God’s Word.
The spirit within feeds itself and builds defenses against the attacks on the flesh by lust and pride. A spirit which is well-fed by God’s Word and in tune with the Holy Spirit will be robust, filling the heart and pushing aside the influences of carnal man. Galatians 6:8 – “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” A poorly fed spirit will be small and weak, easily succumbing to the worldly influences within and without. Let us all pray to be filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit, the better to serve God and reflect His image to all men!