“Flesh and Blood Cannot Please God”
by Eric C. Wheeler


Some time ago, the Holy Spirit said to me, “If you want to live in the Spirit more, then it will cost you more in the flesh”. I understood this to mean that in order for me to walk in the Spirit and to live in the Spirit, I needed to die more in the flesh – that I needed to crucify my flesh, with all of ITS desires and ITS passions – in other words, the things that IT craves and wants! This includes ITS hopes, ITS dreams, ITS desires, and ITS passions. Anything that the flesh wants must become secondary to the will of God and what He wants for us. It is all about learning to trust God; and learning to let go. To learn BY EXPERIENCE that God can be trusted, and therefore, YOU and YOUR wants don’t mean anything compared to what HE has in mind for you! This is what Jesus meant, and had to come to, when He said as He stood before HIS cross, “Father, all things are possible to You. Is there really no other way? I – that is, my flesh, doesn’t want to do this! But nevertheless, not what I will to do, but rather, Your will be done!” Jesus, the One who was and is the Word of God came down to dwell among us and to show us the Way – the way to LIVE – the way to ETERNAL LIFE; by demonstrating to us by HIS OWN PERSONAL EXAMPLE – that man does not live by what he thinks or wants, but rather, by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God – in other words, by whatever God wills and says how and what things should be! Let me give you further explanation and clarification.

Fasting. Fasting is a perfect illustration of denying one’s flesh of what IT wants and craves in order to seek the will of God and what HE wants instead. It is literally a form of “suffering in the flesh” and “denying oneself” in order to ascribe to and submit to a higher purpose – that which is “of the Spirit” – being the will of God. Many don’t realize it, but this is exactly why Jesus, immediately after He was baptized began fasting. He was teaching and instructing those of us who would come after Him – that is, those of us who would be “following Him” in the Walk –how to traverse this desert (this barren wilderness which is called earth – I will explain more about this in later articles) by faith, relying on and trusting God that He is able to provide for us in this desert, and that He can and will lead us to the land which He has promised us (“the Promised Land”).

Notice that Jesus began denying Himself immediately after He got baptized. As we know from Romans chapter 6, water baptism is a form of death. That is, those of us who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized (immersed) into His death (Rom. 6:3). In other words, we have agreed to partake in His sufferings, His denying of self, His being crucified in the flesh, and in His burial. For it is written, “We were buried with Him through baptism into death” (Rom. 6:4). And again, “We have been united together [with Him] in the likeness of His death” (Rom. 6:5). And again, in another place, it says, “I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). And further on, we read, “But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).

Once we get baptized, like Jesus, we too must then begin our desert wilderness walk. But before we look closely and examine how Jesus perfectly did His walk, setting for us the perfect example, let’s first look at the Israelites’ imperfect example, and their subsequent failures, and learn from them the lessons they should have learned. For it is written in the New Testament regarding their Walk: “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition [instruction] on whom the ends of the ages have come” (I Cor. 10:11). And again, “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust [crave] after evil things as they also lusted [craved after]. And do not become idolaters as were some of them… Nor let us commit sexual immorality , as some of them did… nor let us tempt [test] Christ, as some of them also tempted… nor murmur [complain], as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed…” (I Cor. 10:6-10). And in another place, regarding them, it says, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning…” (Rom. 15:4). Not only did many of the Israelites succumb to these deadly desert wilderness pitfalls along the way, but perhaps the greatest catalyst for their ultimate demise and failure was their unbelief – their lack of faith and trust in God. The Book of Hebrews makes it very clear that they all died (with the exception of only Joshua and Caleb) because of their unbelief (Heb. 3:19). They didn’t believe that God had the ability, the wisdom, the strength, the know-how, the faithfulness, the love, and the mercy to deliver them to the place that He had promised them and their forefathers! Summarily speaking, they didn’t trust God’s leadership – that is, they didn’t trust His leading of them! And because of this, they all died. In fact, God described this whole first generation of Israelites that perished, who didn’t enter into His promises, as “a perverse generation; children in whom is no faith” (Deut. 32:20). They had the Law. They had the ways and words of God. They had His teachings, and His statutes, and His judgments. They had Him even speaking to them directly; even seeing His awesome works and deliverances. Yet when it all came down to it; when all was said and done, they simply didn’t believe Him. Notice what Moses said: “Then I said to you, ‘Do not be terrified, or afraid of them [the people of the land]. The Lord your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.’ Yet, for all that, you did not believe the Lord your God, who went in the way before you to search out a place for you to pitch your tents, to show you the way you should go…” (Deut. 1:29-33). And the book of Hebrews further testifies, “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it” (Heb. 4:2). “For without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6).

The Bible says that those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom. 8:8); and also, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (I Cor. 15:50). Therefore, we have to go through a transformation – a conversion! We have to transcend from flesh (fleshly thoughts and fleshly ways of thinking) to spirit (spiritual thoughts and spiritual thinking). After all, this is what God says in His Word: “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways’, says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isa. 55:8-9). “If you then were raised with Christ [in and by the Spirit after your death in baptism], seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:1-4). The Bible tells us that we are “not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in us” (Rom. 8:9). It goes on to say that if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, then they are not His. But that if Christ is indeed in us, then our body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. “For if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom. 8:11). We are then instructed to not live according to the flesh, but rather to live according to the Spirit; and that by the Spirit we are to put to death the deeds of the body, so that we will live (Rom. 8:13). “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8:5-6).

Brethren, I must admit, I don’t know how to fully do this. I am trying. But sometimes it seems that I am still stuck more in chapter 7 of Romans than I am going on to practice Romans chapter 8! Romans chapter 7 is where Paul says, “Oh wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body [of sin] and death?!” (Rom. 7:24). And “Why do I practice what I will NOT to do, than what I will to do?!” (Rom. 7:15-19). This is what I find myself more involved in each day as I suffer and daily war in and struggle against my flesh. But perhaps, this is what I am learning. And this is what the Spirit of God in me is showing me – how the Spirit in us wars against the flesh; and how the flesh in us wars against the Spirit, and these two are contrary to each other (Gal. 5:17). And again, Paul tells us, with our minds those of us who have the Spirit of Christ are serving the law of God, but in our fleshly bodies we regrettably find ourselves occasionally serving the law of sin (Rom. 7:22-25). We don’t WANT to do evil; but unfortunately at this present time, we find that the sin which dwells in us – that is, the sin that dwells IN OUR FLESH – sometimes tries, and successfully momentarily does, bring us into captivity again (Rom. 7:23).

I remember one time feeling so discouraged about this, after having “fallen again” into behavior that I didn’t feel was right and fitting for me to do as a Christian, and I was truly feeling like a hypocrite. I just didn’t feel like I could go on preaching anymore or teaching, because I didn’t want to be a hypocrite or bring disgrace or shame on the name of Christ. I felt like giving up and quitting the ministry. But then, suddenly the Holy Spirit told me about the Apostle Peter, and also about the Apostle Paul. He showed me how both men, even after they had done many mighty miracles and works in the Lord, and preached to others, how even they in their spiritual maturity both still individually struggled with their own personal sins. He showed me how even after Peter had healed many people, had been used by the Holy Spirit to preach many moving sermons, even having his own shadow healing people as he passed by them full of the power of the Lord, and having raised the dead; how even after all of this, he still went up to Antioch and showed partiality which according to the Bible is a grave sin (James 2:9). The Holy Scripture of God here even accurately describing Peter as “playing the hypocrite” in the Church (Gal. 2:13). And this occurred well after Peter’s shadow had previously healed many who were sick, lame and demon-possessed (Acts 5:15). Even the Apostle Paul had his own personal struggles with sin years after he had healed many people, raised the dead, and preached deliverance and salvation to the masses. He confessed that he often didn’t do what he wanted/willed to do; but that he constantly found himself doing what he didn’t want/will to do instead (Rom. 7:15-25). Thus signifying to me that I am NOT a hypocrite, but rather I am on the true journey – in the Way – and in the true Gospel Program of Christ Jesus, my Savior and Lord.

Be encouraged, my dear brothers and sisters, and keep up the good fight of faith. Indeed, it truly IS a struggle and a daily fight. But in Christ Jesus we can and WILL surely overcome!


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