For the Christian there are two active enemies; Satan and our own “flesh” or our carnal, sinful desires. In order to live a successful and Godly life as a Christian we must live in a way that follows God’s command and not our own flesh. Being subject to our flesh’s will instead of God’s is the source of all problems, addictions, regrets, and sins in a Christian’s life. So how do we overcome ourselves? What do we do when what we want to do contradicts how we know we ought to live according to God’s word? We crucify it.
Paul has said in Galatians “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”, and “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”. Paul states that a true Christian has separated himself from his own sinful desires, the Christian must actively reject them. As Jesus said to His Father “Your will be done” He layed His will down in obedience to God’s will and in effect followed God’s plan for His life. We should copy this pattern daily, this is what it means to “Lay your life down for Christ”. We should daily pray in all circumstances “Your will be done and not mine”.
So we, being imitations of Christ, have crucified our sinful desires and now we must consider those passions and desires as dead things. So when an opportunity to sin presents itself we have two options: obey our old self, or our new self.
Building on the picture of our old sinful self being dead, Paul says in Romans “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” Dieing to sin is what happened when you gave your life to Christ, when you confessed devotion to Him, thus how can we go back to our old life?
We may resist sin because it is not part of our true, new identity in Christ. When Satan tempts you he will lie to you about your identity in order to convince you to sin as he did with Eve and Adam, however the Word contains the truth about who we are and how we should. Just as evidence is used in court to prove someone’s innocence or crime we are to believe, act upon, and even verbally declare the evidence that is contained in God’s word.
Let’s look at a story in Judges 4 of Jael and Sissera. You can find the story in Judges chapter 4.
Don’t let the strange Hebrew names confuse you, Heber and Jael were married and once lived with their family tribe elsewhere but for an unknown reason moved away to an area by the Kishon River (v.11). This area is where the evil commander Sissera was defeated (v.15), he ran away from the battle on foot as the only survivor to find somewhere to hide(v.17). Because of the peace between Heber’s people and the evil King who Sisera worked for Sisera thought he would be safe in J ael’s tent. Upon request Jael agrees to hide Sisera in her tent, she gives him some warm milk, he falls asleep and Jael turns against him by nailing a tent peg through his head.
In this story we are like Jael, we use to be in allegiance to an evil King but we have turned our allegiance to God and killed that tool of evil – our flesh.
Colossians 1:13 “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love”.
If you really want to get deep in to symbols you can say the that the milk that Jael offered Sisera instead of water symbolizes the Word of God as paralleled in 1Peter 2:2, Heb 5:13, and 1 Cor 3:2. This detail is key in the overcoming of our own sinful desires for we have no better defense against Satan than that which God has already spoken to us by His Word. When we face Satan we don’t fight him on our own strength or cunning but by God’s unlimited strength and sure victory (2Cor 10:4-5). In dark times of trouble or temptation we should be quick to quote the Word, reminding Satan of his defeat (Jud 1:9, Rev 20:10), reminding ourselves of God’s faithfulness (Psa 103:2, 1Cor 10:13), and reminding others of the power of the Word (Psa 119:43, 1 Cor. 2:5).
The other significance of the story of Jael’s defeat of Sisera is the likeness of the tent peg to that of a nail used in crucifixion. As mentioned earlier we are to crucify ourselves; to nail our flesh back to the cross where it has died and been left behin, we then walk in the new life offered by Christ (1Jhn 1:7, Gal 5:24).
Christ said in the three gospels that “if anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me.” The cross was a sign of torture leading to sure death. But for our Savior he did not remain dead on the cross, we rose in to a new and better life and sits at God’s right hand, so we die and out of that death comes a new, better, heavenly life we live in God.