Dealing With The Works of the Flesh:
It's not unbelief that shuts one out of the
Kingdom; it's the refusal to renounce the works of the flesh.
The roots of the works of the flesh remain in the lives of many believers. These prayer-starters are for those who want their lives inspected by the Holy Spirit and made ready for the Day of the Lord. Indeed—they are for those who will inherit the Kingdom of God.
DAY 1 - Adultery
Most clearly, this points to voluntary sexual involvement between married man and a woman not his wife, or between a married woman and a man not her husband. Jesus, in Matthew 5:27,28, makes it clear that adultery runs deeper than the act itself. As well as the outward, it is this deeper root; the cause of adultery, the Holy Spirit is after in us. He grieves over mental and emotional adultery as much as over physical adultery. Some, too ‘spiritual’ for sexual involvement outside of marriage, find "soul-mates" with whom they enjoy spiritual union. This is no less adulterous.
Exodus 20:14—Thou shalt not commit adultery
Proverbs 6:32—But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.
MSG—Adultery is a brainless act, soul-destroying, self-destructive;
Father, even if I am not outwardly committing adultery, cleanse my thoughts from any thing that could lead to adultery—whether it be emotional, mental, physical or spiritual. Place within me, and these I hold before You, a new and deep appreciation for marriage and its sanctity. Heal the marriages of these I hold before You.
Cleansing the Heart of Adultery —Matt 5:28; Matt 15:18.20
DAY 2 - Fornication
This is a broader word than adultery in that it points to any sexual involvement other than what is right in marriage.
I Corinthians 6:9—Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.
NIrV—Don't you know that evil people will not receive God's kingdom? Don't be fooled. Those who commit sexual sins will not receive the kingdom. Neither will those who worship statues of gods or commit adultery. Neither will men who are prostitutes or who commit homosexual acts.
Merciful Lord, I know that fornication is wrong, but help me not to judge those caught in the power of its evil desire. Help me have the compassion and spiritual authority to set them free. Remove from me any root of unclean desire that could lead to fornication.
Compassion In Place of Judgment—John 8:1-11
DAY 3 - Uncleanness
This is a further step into sexual wrongness. It means all kinds of perverse sexual involvement. This leads to all forms of uncleanness, even physical. From Ephesians 4:19, we learn this sort of thing comes about in a life that has moved away from normal and right feelings. It comes out of unrestrained desire looking for fulfillment in the wrong place.
Ephesians 4:17-19—This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
NIrV—Here is what I'm telling you. I am speaking for the Lord as I warn you. You must no longer live like those who aren't Jews. Their thoughts don't have any purpose. They can't understand the truth. They are separated from the life of God. That is because they don't know him. And they don't know him because their hearts are stubborn. They have lost all feeling for what is right. They have given themselves over to the evil pleasures of their bodies. They take part in every kind of unclean act. And they always long for more.
Romans 6:19—For as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
MSG—You can readily recall, can't you, how at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing—not caring about others, not caring about God—the worse your life became and the less freedom you had? And how much different is it now as you live in God's freedom, your lives healed and expansive in holiness?
Father, if out of my loneliness I sometimes entertain unclean desires, heal me that I might have my emotional needs met in You. Help me consider unclean the very things You consider unclean. Bring a desire for cleansing in these I hold before You.
Breaking with Uncleanness—John 1:7-9; n Cor 6:17; II Cor 7:1
DAY 4 - Lasciviousness—(outrageous behavior)
This is dangerously close to the filling up of iniquity. It means, outrageous behavior, the letting go of all control—in sexual behavior as well as in other ways. Some believers, because of what they feel are undue restraints placed on them, dream of this sort of freedom. They do not take the actual steps, but become unclean in fantasy. This defiles the soul. Ephesians 4:19 points to lasciviousness as including all uncleanness and greediness. This is a sad commentary on the end result of this work. It embraces greediness. This is from the Greek plenoexia, a word simply meaning "I will have more." It is never satisfied. There is never enough. It is always reaching for more avenues and releases of uncleanness.
1 Peter 4:3—For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries.
NIrV—You have spent enough time in the past doing what ungodly people choose to do. You lived a wild life. You longed for evil things. You got drunk. You went to wild parties. You worshiped statues of gods. The Lord hates that.
II Corinthians 12:21—And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.
MSG 20-21—I do admit that I have fears that when I come you'll disappoint me and I'll disappoint you, and in frustration with each other everything will fall to pieces—quarrels, jealousy, flaring tempers, taking sides, angry words, vicious rumors, swelled heads, and general bedlam. I don't look forward to a second humiliation by God among you, compounded by hot tears over that crowd that keeps sinning over and over in the same old ways, who refuse to turn away from the pigsty of evil, sexual disorder, and indecency in which they wallow.
Father, sometimes I've judged those whose behavior I thought was disgraceful. Help me to see that such behavior often comes from the deep longing to be loved and accepted. Release in me Your love to reach these. Search out any outrageous behavior in me and help me rid my life of it.
Putting away Things Grievous to the Holy Spirit
DAY 5 - Idolatry
This means simply the worship of idols. It follows close upon the preceding four words, all of which embrace fornication in some way. Idolatry is adultery against the Lord. It is the exalting of other persons and things above Him. It is greed raised to the point it possesses a person. Colossians 3:5-6 lays out what modem day idolatry is: covetousness is idolatry. And, it tells what will be the end result.
Colossians 3:5-6—Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
MSG—And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That's a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It's because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger.
I John 5:21—Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
Gracious Father, I realize idolatry is expressed in me when I need anything or anyone more than I need You. Show me anything I place before You and give me the grace to confess it and repent that you may cleanse me.
Rejecting Spiritual Adultery—II Cor 6:14-18
DAY 6 - Witchcraft
Quite literally, this means the use of—and dependence on—drugs. It is from the Greek pharmakeia, from which comes the English word "pharmacy." Its use in this Galatian passage doesn’t mean the use of legal or prescription drugs, but rather their immoral and illegal use. The word also means and includes all sorcery, enchantment, magic and astrology. Rev 18:23 translates pharmakeia as sorceries. By the time of the end, all nations will have come under the influence of sorcery, or witchcraft.
In nearly every circle of believers, the Holy Spirit searches out varying forms of witchcraft, calling for repentance and deliverance from its grasp. Its practice is widespread—sometimes in ignorance, but dangerous none the less.
Revelations 18:23—And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.
NIrV—The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voices of brides and grooms will never be heard in you again. Your traders were among the world's most important people. By your magic spell all the nations were led down the wrong path.
Micah 5:12—And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand,' and thou shalt have no more soothsayers.
NIrV—I will destroy your worship of evil powers. You will no longer be able to put a spell on anyone.
Dear Lord, reveal any curse on my family line that is the result of some practice of witchcraft. Find any practice or idea I may now be holding associated with witchcraft. In Jesus Name, cleanse me—and these I hold before You—from all occult power.
Putting away Occult Practice—Deut 18:9-13; Rev 18:21-23
Each of the foregoing arises out of unclean and unbridled desire in those whose lives center on themselves—and have the idea that the desires of their flesh are an indication as to what is right for them.
DAY 7 - Hatred—(enmity)
This is from a word generally translated strife. It means, enmity, feuding, contention, discord. It's amazing that the first thing the Lord Jesus says about love is that we are to express it toward our enemies—those we are prone to hate.
Matthew 5:44-45a—But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven:
MSG—I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does.
The flesh sends forth this order: "Face enmity, contention and strife with more of the same. Make the persons who hurt you suffer." The basic impulse of carnality is retaliation. But the way of God's Kingdom finds how to express love.
Romans 12:20—Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst. give him to drink.
NIrV—"If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. By doing those things, you will pile up burning coals on their heads." (Proverbs 25:21,22)
Father, release a love in me that will overcome every inclination I have toward enmity and hatred. Help me to become a blessing to those whom I formerly would have hated. Also, bring in the ones I hold before you an ability to love those who have wronged them.
Overcoming Hatred—Matt 5:44; Rom 12:14
DAY 8 - Variance—(quarreling and contention)
This is from the Greek eris which means "quarreling and contention." It is the disposition of one who uses harsh tones and is always wrangling with others. This same word is translated strife in I Corinthians 3:3 which clearly teaches that it is a mark of carnality.
I Corinthians 3:3—For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
NIrV—You are still following the ways of the world. Some of you are jealous. Some of you argue. So aren't you following the ways of the world? Aren't you acting like ordinary human beings?
Roman 13:13—Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
NIrV—Let us act as we should, like people living in the daytime. Have nothing to do with wild parties. Don't get drunk. Don't take part in sexual sins or evil conduct. Don't fight with each other. Don't be jealous of anyone.
Loving Father, deal with the contentious spirit in me. Remove from me the need to always be right and the fear of having my rights violated. Help those I know who are quarreling. Let there come between them a desire for peace.
Becoming a Lover of Peace—Matt 5:9; Col 3:14.16
DAY 9 - Emulations—(Jealousy)
This is from zelos, which means jealousy or envy. James 3:14-17 is a revealing passage concerning this carnal work. Here zelos is translated envying. But, if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. Envy is a kind of low wisdom; it is earthly, sensual and devilish. The wisdom that comes from above demonstrates opposite values. It is pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and goodfruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
Hebrews 13:5—Be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
NIrV—Don't be controlled by love for money. Be happy with what you have. God has said,
"I will never leave you. I will never desert you." (Deut 31:6)
Father, I renounce jealousy and put it away from my heart. Forgive me for having feelings toward others that have made me uncomfortable with what I have. Bless those who are advancing beyond me. Release a grace in their lives that will cause them to grow in their relationship with you.
Rejoicing In the Gifts Others Have—I Cor 12:26; Rom 12:15,16
DAY 10 - Wrath—(deep-seated anger)
This is from thumos which means strong passion and emotional anger. It is the kind of anger that might burst forth like fire from the mouth of a dragon. It does damage to those it hits and destroys relationships.
Proverbs 10:12—Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.
NIrV—Hate stirs up fights. But love erases all sins by forgiving them.
Proverbs 16:32—He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
NIrV—It is better to be patient than to fight. It is better to control your temper than to take a city.
Ephesians 4:26—Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
NIrV—Scripture says, "When you are angry, do not sin." (Psalm 4:4) Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.
Father, please touch the anger in us and sanctify it so it can become productive and not destructive. I renounce all anger that has risen in me because I've been slighted or hurt by others. Heal me and these I hold before You so anger can lose its control over our emotions.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath—Psalm 37:7,8
DAY 11 - Strife
This is from a word meaning, to have a party spirit. It is that out of which contentions and factions develop, causing division and ill feelings among families, friends, and fellowships.
Philippians 2:3—Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
NIrV—Don't do anything only to get ahead. Don't do it because you are proud. Instead, be free of pride. Think of others as better than yourselves.
James 3:14-16—But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
MSG 13-16—Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here's what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It's the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn't wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn't wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn't wisdom. It's the furthest thing from wisdom—it's animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you're trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others' throats.
Romans 13:13,14—Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
MSG 11-14—But make sure that you don't get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can't afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don't loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!
Father, forgive me for harboring strife in my heart and thinking of harsh things I'd like to say to set someone straight Cause strife to become so foreign to us that we cannot tolerate it in our family or fellowship. Heal these I hold before You who live with strife.
DAY 12 - Seditions—(divisions, dissensions)
This means, standing apart; division; dissension. This is so serious an offense that Paul says in:
Romans 16:17—Mark them which cause divisions (seditions) among you…and avoid them.
MSG 17-18—One final word of counsel, friends. Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They're only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren't above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.
John 13:35—By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
MSG 34-35—"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other."
Father, deal with the contrary ways in us that bring about divisions. Please extend Your love toward those from whom we are separated. Bring about a reunion with forgiveness and love.
Letting the Prayer of Jesus be Answered—John 17:20-23
DAY 13 - Heresies—(sectarianism)
This word, like the previous one, means—discord and contention—but carried to the point of forming a sect or movement based on the discord. Even some denominations have developed out of discord and contention, leading to generations of strife and contention.
Romans 14:19—Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
NIrV—...let us do all we can to live in peace. And let us work hard to build each other up.
II Peter 2:1—But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
MSG 1-2—But there were also lying prophets among the people then, just as there will be lying religious teachers among you. They'll smuggle in destructive divisions, pitting you against each other—biting the hand of the One who gave them a chance to have their lives back! They've put themselves on a fast downhill slide to destruction, but not before they recruit a crowd of mixed-up followers who can't tell right from wrong.
Precious Lord, I renounce a party spirit. Deal with whatever is in me that tends to separate and divide me from others. Help me understand the points of view others hold, and be loving and tolerant.
Endeavoring to Keep Unity—Ephesians 4:1-6
DAY 14 - Envyings—(jealousy with malice)
This is from a stronger word in the Greek than emulations. It means jealousy to the point of bearing malice toward someone for something they did, or did not, do. What a potentially dangerous inclination this is! Twice, in Romans 1:29 and in this Galatians 5:21, this word is associated with murder. What a testimony as to how vile and perilous can become the maintaining of this root in one's frame of mind! And yet, its root works in many a person--silently, behind the scenes of the emotions, ever nudging toward a fatal act that will pay back the other person and make him or her suffer. In most cases-yea, by far most cases--it never comes to fruition. But is that to say it is not dangerous? Who knows what might push one to the edge of committal? Besides, even keeping the work down on the inside defiles the soul and locks one out of the Kingdom.
I Corinthians 14:20—Brethren, be not children in understanding; howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.
NIrV—Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. Be like babies as far as evil is concerned. But be grown up in your thinking.
Ephesians 4:31—Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
NIrV—Get rid of all hard feelings, anger and rage. Stop all fighting and lying. Put away every form of hatred.
Father, search my heart through and through to see if there is even a trace of malice there. Convict me deeply if I have wished ill toward another who has prospered at my expense. Release grace within me to love that one.
Replacing Malice with Kindness—Mark 11:25; Romans 1:16-32
DAY 15 - Murders
How final and unalterable is this work carried to its full! Oh, the horror of its unchangeable blow! That even the inclination toward it could dwell in the mental framework of a child of God seems unthinkable. Yet it does. The slow mental and emotional killing of another is a deadly game going on with many.
Exodus 20:13—Thou shalt not kill.
Matthew 15:18-20—But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man:
NIrV—But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart. Those are the things that make you 'unclean.' Evil thoughts come out of the heart. So do murder, adultery, and other sexual sins. And so do stealing, false witness, and telling lies about others. Those are the things that make you 'unclean.'
Father, some friends of mine are in prison for murder. I grieve for them and long for your grace to be released in them. But convict me also of the times I have helped kill the reputation, or the spirit, or the enthusiasm of someone. Bring a grace in us that imparts life to others instead of death.
Removing Stumbling Blocks from Our Lives—Matt 18:6; I Cor 8:12,13
DAY 16 - Drunkenness
This means "being intoxicated with strong drink." There are those who condone this. There are others who maintain that the moderate use of alcohol, keeping all things under control, is acceptable. This may be so for those fortunate enough to use it with temperance. But what of those who learn from the temperate that it is permissible to drink, only to find they cannot control its use? And what of the temperate user who wakes up one day discovering he or she can no longer control its use? Proverbs 20:1 and 23:32 make potent statements regarding strong drink. Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise…At the last it biteth like a serpent.
Romans 13:13—Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
AMP—Let us live and conduct ourselves honorably and becomingly as in the [open light of] day, not in reveling (carousing) and drunkenness, not in immorality and debauchery (sensuality and licentiousness), not in quarreling and jealousy.
Ephesians 5:18—And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.
MSG 18-20—Don't drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.
Gracious and loving Father, but for Your grace I would be a drunk. Therefore, remove from me any condemnation I tend to hold toward those who drink. Release in me a love toward them that will help me minister deliverance to them. Bring in these I hold before You the desire to be free from alcohol. Set me free from any thought that strong drink could help me.
Rejecting Strong Drink but Loving the Drunkard —Pro 23:29-32
DAY 17 - Revellings
This is wild merrymaking at the expense of others, merry making out of hand, taken to the point of disregard for all that is right. It's what lies at the base of rioting and looting. It's the extreme exerting of one's right to free expression. This is the outward expression of unrestrained lust, the full release of all the works of the flesh.
1 Peter 4:2-4—That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:
MSG 2-4—... those who have suffered in their bodies are finished with sin. As a result, they don't live the rest of their lives on earth controlled by evil human longings. Instead, they live to do what God wants. You have spent enough time in the past doing what ungodly people choose to do. You lived a wild life. You longed for evil things. You got drunk. You went to wild parties. You worshiped statues of gods. The Lord hates that. Ungodly people think that it's strange when you no longer join them in what they do. They want you to rush into the same flood of wasteful living. So they say bad things about you.
Ephesians 5;3,4—But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
MSG—Don't allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don't talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn't fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.
Precious Father, I see that the sum of the negatives mentioned in the above verse goes in revellings. Please cleanse my life from all of them. And—Oh, Father—help me love those whose lives aren't clean from them.
Putting away Offensive Things—Romans 14:21; Pro 21:17; Lev 10:9
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