If you feed a stray cat, you know it’s going to come back. The truth is whatever you feed follows you; it comes back to you. The same principle applies to feeding fleshly desires. The Bible says that feeding the flesh (feelings that lead to bitterness, perfection, addictions, and anger) leads to death and destruction. The fruit of feeding our desires is rotten and can slowly start to destroy you. However, when we feed the Spirit, it leads to life, peace, and joy.
What Does the Culture Say?
Most of us hear messages from the culture, such as…
- There’s time to be serious and settle down later
- You only live once, so live it up now
- Pursue whatever you want now and worry about the consequences later
This thinking is labeled by psychologists as a “present bias.” The present bias favors the rewards of today over the rewards of tomorrow.
At the moment, things seem fun and carefree. However, this thinking encourages us to take risks, doing things we wouldn’t normally do. We can end up (often unknowingly) feeding the flesh—the desires that have the potential to destroy us later.
We feed ourselves in the present the things we thought could never become a problem, only to find out later they are all we can think about.
Living in the present bias puts psychological distance between now and later. The things you want at some point in your life (marriage, family, career, getting to know God) get further and further away until they are only vague, abstract ideas.
The Law of the Harvest
The law of the harvest is you reap what you sow. Whatever you plant is what will grow. In other words, if you feed the flesh, you will reap corruption and destruction.
Galatians 6:7-10 says this…
- “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Emphasis added)
The word “mocked” in this verse means to turn your nose up at God. Paul is cautioning us to think twice that the laws God created for us to live by don’t apply to us personally. We might think we are “getting away” with something now, but the law of the harvest says that we will reap what we sow at some point. If we are feeding the flesh—operating out of feelings of bitterness, anger, pride, selfishness, and lust—we will reap accordingly, just as Galatians 6:8 says.
Ralf Waldo Emerson said this…
- “That you sow a thought, and you reap an action. You sow an act, and you reap a habit. You sow a habit, and you reap a character. You sow a character, and you reap a destiny.”
What You Shouldn’t Feed
What shouldn’t you be feeding? Sin.
Feeding the flesh is sin and allows decay and destruction into our lives. Sin is anything that separates us from God. Sin always leads to death. The Bible says that when we choose to sin, though we might not die right away, we open doors and invite decay into our lives.
Feeding the flesh generally doesn’t start as a feast. Instead, it usually begins as a little nibble.
- A couple of drinks after work can lead to a 6-pack every night, which leads to a 12-pack, then a 30-pack, and the snowball gets bigger as it rolls downhill.
- A pain from your past never dealt with leads to bitterness and anger in your marriage. Then bitterness begins to overflow to your kids and your friends, and over time, the unforgiveness in your heart has pushed everyone away.
Proverbs 23:7 says…
- “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”
This scripture is saying that whatever you feed your mind with and think about, this is what you will become. So be careful what you feast on. Does it have the potential to rob you of life? And consider this, whatever you are feeding is what is leading you.
Paul gives this warning in Philippians 3:19…
- “…whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.”
As a Christian, the first step is to recognize, acknowledge, and confess what you are feeding, but God doesn’t want you to stay there. To get out of the destruction of whatever you’ve been feeding, you have to decide to partner with Him.
Escaping Corruption and Partaking in the Divine Nature of God
The Bible tells us that in Christ, we have all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him. And through the promises we have in Him, we can be partakers of the divine nature and escape corruption. This is the love of God—to rescue us from hell and share His life and glory with us!
- “…as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”—2 Peter 1:3-4
What You Should Feed
What should you be feeding? The Spirit.
Take a look at Galatians 6:8 again, “but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” For many of us, feeding the flesh is more appetizing than feeding the Spirit.
Maybe you don’t have a taste for the things of God, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t discipline yourself to activate those things. When you do, that is feeding the Spirit.
Discipline isn’t always a favorable word, but maybe it's time to reclaim its beauty.
Hebrews 12:11 says…
- “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Emphasis added)
Do you notice the harvest you will reap when you decide to partner with God and feed the Spirit? His righteousness starts to work out of you, and the fruit is peace!
What Discipline Looks Like
For some, this means carving out time to get into God’s Word and practice doing what it says. Hebrews 12:11 says righteousness and peace are for “those who have been trained.” The training is practicing. Discipline unleashes the power of God in your life.
When you stop feeding the flesh and decide to feed the Spirit of God, He releases His power in your life.
1 Timothy 4:7-8 says…
- “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
To discipline and train…
- Get into God’s Word
- Get someone to “train” with you
We aren’t meant to run this race alone. When we have community to pray and get into God’s Word together, we can ask questions, be encouraged and held accountable, grow, and start living a life that fills in the gap between now and later, so we reap an abundant harvest in the decades ahead.