Do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:14
Augustine’s autobiographical Confessions describes his long and winding journey to Jesus. On one occasion, he was riding to the palace to give a flattering speech for the emperor. He was fretting over his deceptive applause lines when he noticed a drunken beggar “joking and laughing.” He realized the drunk already had whatever fleeting happiness his shifty career might bring, and with much less effort. So Augustine stopped striving for worldly success.
But he was still enslaved by lust. He knew he couldn’t turn to Jesus without turning from sin, and he still struggled with sexual immorality. So he prayed, “Grant me chastity . . . but not yet.”
Augustine stumbled along, torn between salvation and sin, until finally he had enough. Inspired by others who had turned to Jesus, he opened a Bible to Romans 13:13–14. “Let us behave decently . . . not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality . . . . Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”
That did it. God used those inspired words to break Augustine’s chains of lust and brought him “into the kingdom of the Son . . . in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13–14). Augustine became a bishop who remained tempted by fame and lust, but he now knew whom to see when he sinned. He turned to Jesus. Have you?
What’s keeping you from giving your life to Jesus? How might your life change if you let it go?
Dear Father, let nothing come between me and You.
For further study, read Remade in the Image of Jesus at DiscoverySeries.org.
Paul’s warning here is a tacit acknowledgment of our propensity to sin even after we’ve come to Christ. That’s why he warns us to “put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12). The passage is reminiscent of another of Paul’s letters in which he refers to putting on armor. There he writes, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11). In both passages, the strong implication is that temptations will inevitably come, and we must supplant those sinful desires by following Jesus unreservedly and completely. “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ,” the apostle says, “and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh” (Romans 13:14). The only effective way to neutralize our obsession with sin is to replace our selfish desires with a craving for Christ.