It was Paul the apostle who stated that, ‘I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound’ and one of the marks of a mature believer is that he has been tested on both levels. Philippians 4:12-13, “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I AM INSTRUCTED both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
The pronoun ‘both’ was emphasized three times in the above text and this was the bedrock upon which Paul’s ministerial sojourn and success was built. Paul had trained and constrained his body to adapt both to the harshest as well as the happiest of moments. Come what may, he knew he was more than a conqueror. He was a survivor. He was no weakling who couldn’t withstand hunger just for some few hours or even days. He could delay his gratification for a greater cause. This was a model believer who maintained his stand in the time of either largesse or lack.
Paul’s writings were borne out of his experiences, and as occasion demands, he was instructed by a heavenly instructor. He had subjected himself to the dealings of the higher One and he was more than willing to take attention away from himself. He had yielded his body to the dictates and directions of the heavenly Father with whom we all have to do. In order to maximize his commitment and communion with the Holy Spirit, Paul wouldn’t allow his flesh to control him. Consistently and progressively, he had learned how to silence the voice of the flesh.
Often, it is only a child or a spiritual babe that is overly controlled by their fleshly needs and appetites. When there is hunger, food must be provided forthwith and without delay. When there is thirst, drink must be fetched. A child will cry out and not entertain any form of delay in the pursuit of self gratification. However, for an adult, he has mastered the challenging experiences and encumbrances of life. A mature believer is the one who is willing to defer pleasure and endure discomfort, for a momentary period, as they consecrate their bodies to God.
Satan’s major weapons of attack are deeds done in the flesh. Eve fell in the Garden of Eden as a result of the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. And yes, Satan has not changed his ancient strategy that has reduced many giants to a crumb of bread. A mature believer knows how to put the flesh under so as to allow the spirit to mount up. Food is consumed to strengthen the flesh while the spirit is strengthened by the Word of God. Jesus said, a man (not a child) shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)
Prophet Jeremiah knew that his spirit-man has to be fed when he said that I found your words and I did eat them and your word was unto me the joy and the rejoicing of my heart. (Jeremiah 15:16) He implies here that God’s word delights his spirit-man just the way a delicious meal delights the stomach. Naturally, after the consumption of a meal, you would later have to visit the loo in order to get rid of some organic wastes. Moreover, Jeremiah ingested and digested God’s word and there were no extraneous wastes to be egested therein as it is with physical food.
The arm of flesh is bound to fail you. Indeed, the flesh profits nothing. The flesh never adds to you, rather it takes from you. The first Adam yielded to the admonitions of the flesh and he was reduced to a living soul, but the last Adam (i.e. Jesus) was elevated to a quickening spirit because He conquered the devil’s persuasions on the plane of the flesh. Man is spirit, soul and body; but the body ought not to control the whole man. Frankly, to abstain from food may be hard for the body, but it’s profitable for the spirit, and the abundant life, as designed by God, is the life lived by the spirit.
Believers are instructed to present their bodies to God as a living sacrifice which is a reasonable act of worship. Spiritual babes do not know how to make bodily sacrifice. The people who will make landmark progress in their walk with God are those who can delay their gratification, and will not grant every whim and wish of the flesh. These are the people that will push forward the frontiers of the kingdom of God. These are the chosen ones that God is gathering, “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” (Psalm 50:5)
– Demola Adeniran