Prayer Guides | Vol. 7, Day 21-30

    June 29, 2020 | Prayer Guides by Various Authors

    Deeds of the Flesh

    DAY 21: Introduction - The Deeds of the Flesh

    Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” 

    Last month we examined the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-24, and now we look at the other side of things with the Deeds of the Flesh. The Spirit versus the flesh battle rages in every believer, and it is beneficial to understand both components in this struggle. We are encouraged to “walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16; 25) and not the flesh. The term “walk” is present tense, or a continuous and habitual way of life. Walking in the flesh is another way of saying we want what we want, and we are the gods over our lives.

    The deeds listed in 5:19-21 are divided into three general areas: sex, religion, and human relationships. Immorality, impurity, and sensuality are sexual sins. The desire of the flesh is for illicit sexual activity driven by the lust of our own hearts. This includes all things pornographic, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and prostitution. Idolatry and sorcery are considered religion. Idolatry is the worship of false gods or anything we love more than Jesus. Sorcery is speaking toward witchcraft and pharmaceuticals. The remainder focus on human relationships, which will be individually addressed in days 22-30 of this guide. These are the bad fruit that can manifest visibly in our lives.

    Today ask God to reveal to you any fleshy desires that may be keeping you separated from Him, or that are hindering your growth in discipleship. Review Galatians 5 on your own, with your spouse, or with your family.

    Questions to Consider: 

    Am I walking in the flesh or in the Spirit? Is there anything I love more than Jesus? Do I need accountability and help with sexual, religious, or human relational sin?

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • If you haven’t already done so, pray to God for salvation from sin and death through faith in the completed work of Jesus Christ.
    • Confess to God and repent of sexual, religious, or human relational sin.
    • Pray that God would strengthen you in areas of temptation.

    Galatians 5:25“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” 

    DAY 22: Deeds of the Flesh – Enmities

    Genesis 3:15“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” 

    Enmity can be described as perpetual opposition with an enemy. It can also mean intense hostility, going well beyond dislike or animosity. It is a deep seated, long-lasting hatred that sours the soul and directs paths of evil. This concept is famously illustrated in Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet” and the feuding story of the Hatfields and McCoys. In both cases, each side perpetually and historically hated one another. They were permanent enemies. This type of thinking and acting toward others is antithetical to God’s Word.

    God sent Jesus to reconcile us to Himself, ending our own enmity with Him (Romans 5:10).

    In Genesis 3:15 God makes it very clear that Satan has enmity with Him and with us. That also implies that we have enmity with him. He is against the things of God, and if we are walking with God, then Satan is also against us. There is enough evil in the world without us having enmity toward one another. If we love God, we will also love people. As we grow in our discipleship it should become virtually impossible to have enmity with others.

    Today ask God to reveal to you any enmity you are harboring. If so, prayerfully seek reconciliation with that person or those people. Review Genesis 3 and Romans 5 on your own, with your spouse, or with your family.

    Questions to Consider: 

    Do I have enmity with another person, or group of people? Is there anyone that I need to prayerfully reconcile with in order to grow closer to God?

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Confess to God and repent of any enmity towards others.
    • Pray for patience, wisdom, and understanding in my relationships with others.
    • Prayerfully forgive anyone who has enmity against me.

    Romans 5:10 “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” 

    DAY 23: Deeds of the Flesh – Strife

    Proverbs 17:14 “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, So abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.”

     Strife can be defined as a bitter conflict or quarrel. Another meaning is discord. It is often used interchangeably with the word “contention.” This is describing a person who regularly seems ready to argue. There is a consuming bitterness of heart that shows itself through quarrels, complaining, and gossip. The intent is to stir things up, frequently just to be heard or to get their own way. It is easy to see how this Deed of the Flesh can cause damage to all involved.

    The imagery in Proverbs 17:14 is effective in illustrating the impact of strife. Think of a dam holding back a river. A small hole may appear, causing a tiny bit of water to begin leaking out. This could go on for a long period of time and not seem to compromise the integrity of the dam. Then the hole gets a little bigger and more water starts to leak out. The hole continues to grow, and the amount of water escaping increases until the pressure is more than it can endure, causing the dam to rupture. The ensuing flood destroys everything in its path before subsiding. This can be the impact of strife in our lives, as well as in the lives of those around us. The bitter quarrels, complaints, and gossip will become more than can be endured, and the resulting flood will bring destruction.

    Today ask God to reveal to you any bitterness in your heart, mind, and actions. If you have hurt others through strife, prayerfully ask for forgiveness. Review Proverbs 17 and James 3:1-12 on your own, with your spouse, or with your family.

    Questions to Consider: 

    Do I have a bitter and contentious spirit? Do I need accountability and help in “taming my tongue” (James 3)?

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Confess to God and repent of strife and bitterness.
    • Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide my heart, mind, and actions.
    • Prayerfully forgive those who have stirred up strife in my life.

    James 3:5 “So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!” 

    DAY 24: Deeds of the Flesh – Jealousy

    James 3:16 “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”

    Jealousy can be defined as a hateful resentment for what others have. It is contentious rivalry based on another’s position or possessions. The Greek word zelos, translated as jealousy in Galatians 5:20, has the same root (ze-) used to get the word “zeal.” This root can literally mean “hot enough to boil.” To be zealous can mean a burning love or ardor toward others for who they are. On the other hand, to be jealous can be a burning hatred toward others for what they have.

    One place we see a biblical example of jealousy is with Haman, the villain in the Book of Esther. In Esther 6, the king remembers how Mordecai saved his life and how Mordecai was never properly acknowledged for this feat. The king asks Haman, his right-hand man, “What is to be done for the man whom the king desires to honor?” Of course, Haman thinks the king must be talking about him, not Mordecai or anyone else, so he concocts an elaborate public display of the king’s honor. The king agrees and orders Haman to personally do just what he suggested to Mordecai, his enemy and the cause of Haman’s plot to eradicate the Jews. Esther 6:12 tells of Haman’s hatred and jealousy toward Mordecai as afterward he “hurried home, mourning, with his head covered.” Haman’s hatred had boiled over, and would soon seal his own demise. 

    Jealousy can quickly overtake our hearts, coloring our words, attitudes, and actions toward others in a most damaging way. Today ask God to reveal to you any jealousy that you may maintain. Review Esther 6 (and the entire Book if possible) on your own, with your spouse, or with your family.

    Questions to Consider: 

    Do I have jealousy toward anyone? Do I focus more on what God has done for me, or on what other people have?

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Confess to God and repent of jealousy.
    • Pray for the Holy Spirit to help me to be zealous for the Lord.
    • Prayerfully ask forgiveness of those my jealousy has hurt.

    1 Peter 3:13 “Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?”

    DAY 25: Deeds of the Flesh – Outbursts of Anger

    James 1:19-20 “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” 

    Outbursts of anger are unrestrained expressions of hostility toward others. This is so much more than being annoyed, perturbed, or bothered by someone. These are out of control, over the top explosions. It is acting out in extreme ways based on extreme emotions. All of us can experience times when we are upset at someone and our emotions are high. This is never the time to speak, act, or make decisions. Anger can cloud our judgment to the point of blindness, leading to devastating results that cannot be taken back.

    Let’s go back again into the Book of Esther to examine an extreme example of this kind of rage, once again with the villain Haman. As chapter 3 begins, Haman is promoted to be “second in command” to the king. All of the king’s servants at the gates would bow down and pay homage to Haman, which fed his pride. However, Mordecai would not do these things for Haman. Verse 5 tells us that Haman “was filled with rage” because of this. But Haman did not deal with this directly and quickly. Instead, he developed a wicked plan to have not only Mordecai killed, but all of the other Jewish people as well. Haman’s intense rage led him to a disproportionately aggressive and destructive response. It also blinded him to much of the truth regarding Mordecai and Esther that may have spared his own life.

    Our outbursts of anger are never righteous and do not glorify God. Today ask God to help you to control your anger and remind you of His peace. Review Esther 3 (and the entire Book if possible) on your own, with your spouse, or with your family.

    Questions to Consider: 

    How has my anger impacted my relationship with God and people? Do I sometimes speak, act, or make decisions based on high emotions of anger?

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Confess to God and repent of anger outbursts.
    • Pray for the Holy Spirit to help me recognize my anger before it turns to rage.
    • Prayerfully ask forgiveness of those my anger has hurt.

    Ephesians 4:26 “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” 

    Day 26: The Deeds of the Flesh – Disputes 

    Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

    Definition of Disputes – Actions or attitudes driven by selfish ambition that often create rivalries.

    We all have an agenda. We think things should be a certain way—namely, the way that makes the most sense to us, or that with which we are the most comfortable. Maybe we hold a particular position or desire a specific thing because of how it makes us feel or appear to others. When our agenda clashes with that of another person there will be an opportunity to seek a compromise or a dispute.

    Disputes are often created by how we handle change. Someone advocates a change that we don’t agree with; how we deal with the conflicting ideas reflects much on our maturity as Christ-followers. For example, it’s time to replace the worn, tired and dirty carpet in the church. Red carpet was very popular in churches 30 years ago, not so much anymore. You like the idea of new carpet in a lighter, more neutral color, but there is also a group of long-time members who cling to tradition and resist change. How do you reflect a Christ-like attitude as the discussion over the color of the new carpet begins to heat up?

    The Gospels don’t record that Jesus ever spoke to the issue of carpet color in the synagogue, but He did say a great deal about handling disputes. Jesus’ teaching in Matthew chapters 5-7 (The Sermon on the Mount) beautifully contrasts the kingdom of God with our present life and ambitions. Jesus says in Matthew 6:12, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do so also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” In other words, set aside our agenda and consider others before oneself. What a great way to neutralize a dispute!

    Questions to Consider:

    When I interact with others, how much of my conversation is about my desires or agenda? When I pray am I seeking God’s will or asking Him to fulfill my desires? When was the last time I treated someone I had a dispute with like I would want to be treated?

    Prayer Prompts:

    • Father, create in me a clean heart, a heart that seeks Your will above my own.
    • Help me to be a peace maker rather than a source of conflict.

    Day 27: The Deeds of the Flesh – Dissensions 

    James 3:16 “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”

    Definition of Dissensions – To cause partisan and contentious quarreling.

    Very similar to yesterday’s topic, dissension involves a difference of opinion—a dispute—only with greater passion, energy, and purpose on the part of one or both parties to the argument. The phrase “dissension in the ranks” describes a situation where the unity of a group is being undermined from within by a deliberate effort to subvert authority.

    In other words, you and I can have a dispute, work it out, and move on with our relationship. If I was creating dissension between us, I would behave and communicate in a manner that would highlight our dispute while also harming any authority or respect others have for your position.

    Dissension is destructive to groups and organizations, like a church. Continuing the example from yesterday of a church in need of new carpet, dissension takes the dispute over the color of the carpet and makes it personal. Traditionalists who favor replacing the old red carpet with new red carpet might say things like, “All real Christians know that church carpet should be red!” The other group, who only want something new and fresh might begin to speak of the other group as “Carpet Pharisees” and being close minded. At this point, the enemy is in control and successfully destroyed any unity within the congregation.

    As with dealing with disputes, Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:12 are powerful, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do so also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Treating others with the same consideration and sacrifice you would like to receive from others will prevent dissension from even starting when a difference of opinion occurs.

    Questions to Consider: 

    We have all had disputes with other people but have you ever experienced dissension? If so, how did it start? How did it end? What was the result of the dissension?

    Prayer Prompts:

    • Father, create in me a clean heart, a heart that seeks Your will above my own.
    • Help me to recognize how I am being perceived by others.
    • Help me to seek to be more like Christ, even when I feel passionately about a point of dispute.

    Day 28: The Deeds of the Flesh – Divisions 

    Romans 16:17 “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.”

    Definition of Divisions – To split people into groups of right or wrong based on opinion.

    In the logical sequence that is our list of the deeds of the flesh, we have gone from bad—disputes, to worse—divisions. The word is used in the Old Testament almost exclusively to describe armies and solders; large groups of men divided into smaller units to enable effective leadership and command. The many units make up the whole, which is unified in its goal to protect and defend a nation.

    This is not unlike the church. Unity of the body under the headship of Christ is the goal. And while there are many denominations, sects, and churches, each with its own leadership, the many parts make up the whole of the universal church. It is within each church where divisions are to be avoided.

    The past couple days we have examined the problems of disputes and dissension within the church. A church plagued with dispute and dissension will be divided, fractured into small groups, each at odds with the other factions seeking their own ambitions. Few things are more effective at destroying the unity, mission, and life of a church. In Ephesians 4:11-13, Paul writes, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the statue of the fullness of Christ.” Such growth and unity cannot happen where there is division.

    Questions to Consider:

    When I look around my church, do I see unity or division? If there is unity, what can I do to encourage and support it? If there is division, what can I do to bring resolution and unity?

    Prayer Prompts:

    • Father, create in me a clean heart, a heart that seeks Your will above my own.
    • Help me to use my words and actions to maintain unity within the Body of Christ.
    • Allow me to recognize division that I may work with church leadership to restore the unity given us by the Holy Spirit.

    Day 29: The Deeds of the Flesh – Envying 

    Proverbs 14:30 “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.”

    Definition of Envying – Having ill will toward others for who they are or for what they represent. 

    Growing up I loved playing sports. It was so much fun being on a team and participating in the practices and games, learning new skills, and developing friendships with other guys. Several of my friends were superb athletes; I mean boys with great speed, coordination, and the ability to make plays and win games. My problem was that I was a little runt of a kid with absolutely no coordination or ability to make a positive contribution to the team other than keeping the bench warm.

    Watching them play game after game from my seat on the bench created in me something that started as admiration, evolved into jealousy, and later fully-flowered envy. My teammates became a source of pain and self-loathing. I no longer cheered their great plays and victories but secretly wished they would suffer an injury so they might know how I felt. Envy had sucked the joy and life out of sports for me, taking what I once loved and turning it into a pit of personal contempt and anger. My bones were rotting. 

    Envy is one of those emotions that we can keep hidden from others, until it manifests itself in harsh and critical language, anger, or outbursts of rage. By the time it is revealed to others, it has done its destructive work on your soul. If you are struggling with envy in your life, cry out to the Lord for His grace, mercy and forgiveness. In Philippians 4:8-9, Paul gives us a prescription for envy, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

    Questions to Consider: Am I struggling with envy in my life? If so, who or what am I envious of? How can I put into practice the things Philippians 4:8-9 is encouraging me to do?

    Prayer Prompts:

    • Father, create in me a clean heart, a heart that seeks Your will above my own.
    • Lord, please show me if there is any envy within my heart.
    • Father, help me to be an instrument of peace in your hands to bring encouragement, comfort, and compassion to those you have placed in my life.

    Day 30: The Deeds of the Flesh – Drunkenness and Carousing 

    Luke 21:34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.”

    Definition of Drunkenness and Carousing – To seek fellowship with sinners at wild parties with little regard for moral righteousness.

    We all enjoy having a time filled with fellowship, laughter, good food, and fun. Many adults choose to consume alcoholic beverages that will lighten their mood when consumed in modest amounts. Drinking to excess causes one’s mental state to be altered, resulting in a lack of judgment and poor decision making, putting the person, and those around him, at risk of danger, injury, or even death. The Bible doesn’t give a prohibition against alcohol, but it does warn of excess.

    Aside from the practical warnings against drunkenness, wild parties and such, there is an important theological component to this discussion that is not often addressed. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” We are created in the image of God. That’s a big deal. Nothing else in all of creation bears God’s image. As image bearers, we are to treat ourselves and each other with respect and care. God’s Law, given to Moses, emphasizes this truth by the command in Leviticus 24:17, “Whoever take a human life shall surely be put to death.” Drunken and unrestrained behavior dishonors our Creator.

    The church at Corinth struggled with drunkenness and carousing, at the Lord’s Supper no less! In 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Paul addresses the issue in this way, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”

    Questions to Consider:

    In Luke 21:34, what is Jesus referring to when he says, “… and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap”? Are you honoring God through the care and keeping of your body? How could you improve in this area of your life?

    Prayer Prompts:

    • Father, create in me a clean heart, a heart that seeks Your will above my own.
    • Help me to discipline myself to care for my body and mind so that I am able to honor and serve you with all of my strength and ability.
    • Allow me to show grace to my brothers and sisters who may struggle with this sin.