GUT CHECK: Are You Operating From the Spirit or the Flesh?
Have you done a gut check lately? If so, are you overcoming the flesh and becoming spirit-led? We all get them;feelings. Sometimes it's anger, sometimes excitement and other times a desire so strong nothing can hold us back. As a young person our energy levels are higher and usually our feelings are also more intense. But just because we feel strongly about something doesn't mean we should always follow our feelings and act on it. God wants us to be aware of our feelings but not give into them. You're probably thinking why did God give me such intense feelings if he doesn't want me to go along with them? Well, probably because he is trying to build character in us.
Life is all about growing and maturing and every time we are faced with a challenge we have a choice. We can either be spirit-led (overcoming the flesh)and conquer it, or we can give into our emotions and feelings and stay in the same place. Let me give you an example. Let's say your little sister got into your closet and took your favorite shirt without permission. She then wore it and ruined it. You are probably pretty mad, right?! Well you have every right to be and God doesn't expect you not to feel anger. It's only natural. What he does expect is for you to work through the anger and eventually forgive your sister. You see many people (including adults) never get past their feelings and they hang onto anger, unforgiveness, rejection or loneliness forever. You are probably thinking that you have good reason to be angry with your sister because that was a pretty lousy thing she did and she doesn't deserve your forgiveness. But unfortunately it won't be your sister who suffers- it will be you. When you hold onto negative feelings towards someone, God cannot forgive you, which causes all kinds of blessings or opportunities to be closed down for you (Matthew 6:14). By choosing forgiveness we are doing a gut check and overcoming the flesh while being spirit-led.
Feelings are pretty strong and they can't be ignored but they can be managed. The sooner you learn to do a gut check and deal with and manage your feelings, the more successful in life you will be. People who have never learned how to say no to their feelings as kids become adults who are out of control. This is often called surrendering to the flesh or overcoming the flesh. Our bodies are made of flesh which craves and desires things in excess, but we also have a spirit and when we learn to be spirit-led, we have control over our desires. The spirit of God lives inside all believers and it will help guide our decisions if we allow it to. For example, a kid who lets their feelings rule their eating habits can become a morbidly obese adult who lives only to eat. A kid who expected and received gifts and rewards all their life without sacrifice grows up to be an adult who continues to buy for them self and is in so much debt they have to file bankruptcy. Do you see what I mean? These are extreme examples of people who walk in the flesh and ignore the spirit. The spirit and flesh are always at war with one another. God wants us to live and be guided by the spirit not by our flesh.(Galatians 5:16)
Remember that not all feelings are bad, but when our feelings and emotions begin to control us then we need to do a quick gut check. It's a little easier, not to mention kind of fun, to deal with feelings if you make a game out of it. Think of overcoming your flesh as a man-eating predator. The only way the vicious predator can survive is by eating it's prey- which is you! If you want to get rid of the predator then you will have to starve it. The way you starve it is by not letting it eat. Got it so far? Good. Every time you have a really strong feeling, tell the predator that you're sorry but you aren't giving into your emotions and he will not be able to eat today. Each time the predator is starved it(your flesh)becomes weaker and you(your spirit) become stronger. Until eventually you realize the predator is no longer there because he has died from starvation. You are now strong, spirit-led and have built up a lot of character. But remember the predator will try to catch you off guard and strike again when your defenses are down and you are least expecting it. It will again try to become a force in your life. Don't let it happen. You have beaten it once and can beat it again.
God says we are more than conquers and we can stand up to and defeat every feeling and emotion that comes against us if we seek Christ.(Romans 8:37) What we need to learn to do is speak God's word to it. Just say,"in the name of Jesus I command ____ to be gone". Remember we have great power if we ask for things in Jesus' name. (If speaking to it and resisting it isn't working, pray and ask God to reveal to your spirit what needs to be done.) You are not alone in this; you have a partner, Jesus, who is continuously interceding for you. Speak to your feelings and let them know who is boss. Do your own gut check. Are you overcoming your flesh and becoming spirit-led? If you follow these steps pretty soon you'll realize that the anger or addiction is not there anymore and the new person you have become is much happier and more peaceful.
Ephesians 4:22-23James 4:7Ezekiel 36:26-27Romans 8:2-16
Recommended resources for kids:
Gut Check- Teen Resources
© Beth Rimstidt 2005
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