rebelling against low expectations

Joshua Harris: Feeding The Flesh


You(1) This is you. Or us, a human made in God’s image. Ladies, sorry you have to identify with a little guy. I’m not sure why he doesn’t have a shirt.
Your Flesh(2) This is the flesh. He’s kind of a Jabba the Hut meets WWF wrestler. The Flesh represents the sinful, corrupted desires of our heart. It’s not a reference to our bodies–our bodies are created by God and are good. The flesh represents our sinful cravings to live for ourselves and disobey God’s laws and commands.
Before You Are Saved(3) Before Jesus saves us, this is how all of us relate to the flesh. The Bible says that we are slaves to our sinful desires. Our flesh is boss. If you’re not a Christian, I’m not trying to offend you. I know this isn’t a flattering picture of your current condition but it’s true of all of us apart from God saving us.
After You Are Saved(4) This is what happens when we trust in Jesus. Because Jesus died on the cross and conquered sin and rose again, we are freed from the power of sin. It’s no longer our boss. See how the chain is broken? And we get clothes, which is really great.
Your Flesh Tries To Entice You(5) But our flesh doesn’t disappear. It still hangs around to entice us. After we’re Christians, we’re no longer slaves to sin, but the flesh can still tempt us. We can choose to give into temptation and indulge the flesh. This is what theologians call “indwelling sin.” Jesus broke the power of sin, but we still live with the presence and influence of sinful desires.
Fight Your Flesh(6) That’s why the Bible is full of encouragement to fight our fleshly desires. We can’t live at peace with it. We have to attack it and deny it. (In hindsight, I guess the “sword of the Spirit” would have been a bit more biblical. Oh well.)
Some Feed Their Flesh(7) The problem is that too often Christians make friends with their flesh. In fact they feed their flesh. We give into our sinful desires. We pamper our flesh. We provide it three rounded meals a day with snacks and dessert. We might think that since we’ve been freed by the cross it’s okay to indulge the flesh. But there’s a real problem. When we feed the flesh…
The Flesh Grows(8) …it grows! And before you know it, the flesh is bigger and stronger than you and starts to push you around. That’s why Paul is telling us in Romans 13 that we need to…
Starve The Flesh(9) …starve our flesh! That’s what we want our flesh to look like. We want the flesh gaunt and feeble. When Paul says “make no provision for the flesh” he’s saying don’t feed your sinful desires. Don’t do things—don’t think things, don’t watch things, don’t meditate on things—that strengthen your sinful inclinations.

Feeding Our Flesh Through Media

Let’s think for a minute about our media diet. I think one of the biggest ways that Christians today feed their flesh is through what we watch on TV, in movies, and online. We each need to ask the question “Are the things I’m watching feeding my flesh?”

And if the answer is “yes,” it doesn’t matter what the movie is rated. It doesn’t matter if everyone you know watches it. You need to act on what God shows you. Don’t feed your flesh. Don’t make provision for your sin. Turn away from it.

• Maybe for you the sensual scenes, or even plots, in certain movies or TV shows increase the strength of lust in your heart. Turn it off.

• Maybe violent movies and shows feed anger and a desire in your soul to use violence to get your way. Turn it off.

• Maybe the advertisements and the values you expose yourself to are feeding your cravings for material things or wrong ideas about your body. Stop watching.

• Maybe the things you watch feed your unbelief and fear. One mother I spoke to recently requested prayer because her dreams were filled with demonic images. She was afraid to sleep. When asked her about her television viewing habits, she told me that she often watched TV shows about real-life crime that were very violent. As we talked, she began to see the connection between what she watched and the bad results in her heart.

Friends, what we view in media becomes our meditation. It either feeds our desire for godliness or it feeds our flesh. Which one are you feeding? If you added up the time you spend reading God’s word, praying, listening to sermons or reading Christian books, how would it stack up against time spent watching TV and movies?

If you give more of your time to worldly entertainment and pursuits, is there any reason to be surprised that sinful desires are so strong in your life? No. If we’re feeding the flesh, it’s no mystery that we’re not growing in holiness.

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Written and Illustrated by Joshua Harris © 2007 Covenant Life Church

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • The flesh – IT BURNS!

    Matthew 16:24
    Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

    Romans 6:6
    For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—

    Galatians 2:20
    I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

  • Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for putting this up! Lately, I have been desiring to give into my flesh and it has been a huge struggle. I think my flesh needs to be “starved”. 😉 Thanks once again for posting this! 🙂

  • Wow. That was quite humorous as well as VERY TRUE! It was a great depiction of the reality of our “flesh”…I was inspired. And not only did it give a true depiction, but the funny drawings sorta’ stick in your mind…unlike just words, which sometimes have a tendancy to slip away from us.

    ~Lady Tai

  • This is really interesting to me at this moment, because one of my friends recently decided to do a ‘romance fast’ and forswear thinking, talking, watching, or listening to anything romantic. I have decided to join her and now realize how much I think about ‘love’ and ‘marriage’! Thinking about that too much is feeding the flesh! Thanks, Josh!

  • The visuals definitely keep the concept in the mind!

    This post is so timely, especially, I think, in light of the comments Steph(y) brought up in the previous post. When a guy feeds the flesh lusting after women, it grows. The longer the flesh is fed, the more difficult it is not to be pushed around by it, as the picture depicted so well. He will think things that are more and more shameful when he sees women. I believe it’s because of this that we men have the experience to fill out all those questions on the survey. Perhaps if we never gave in to the flesh in the first place we wouldn’t be bothered by so much that women wear.

    But we don’t desire to continue like this. We want to starve the flesh! And here I’ll put in a THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! to all the young ladies who want to make changes to their wardrobes because of the Modesty Survey. That will help SO much. It’s already an encouragement just to see women who are willing to sacrifice maybe their favorite shirt or pair of pants for our sakes!

    Yes, it’s sad that we have noticed so much about women’s dress. Some of it is just the result of having the flesh with us, and some of it is the result of indulging that flesh, but we really want to change! Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

  • Excellent! That’s a great illustration. It relates so much to this little anecdote I read just a short while ago:

    Someone once asked Charles Spurgeon about what determines which nature will prevail—the Spirit or the flesh. The person described it as an all-out fight between two dogs. Which one will win?, he asked. Spurgeon replied, “The one you feed.”

  • Very nice illustration.
    It’s so true.

    The one you feed is the one that will grow. Feed the flesh, and sin will increase in your life. Feed the Spirit, and sin will decreas in your life and be replaced by a fufilled life.

    Thank you very much for that illustration.

  • Wow – what a timely post! The concept of living a life according to the Spirit has been mulling around in my head recently, and the cartoons give a wonderful visual illustration. Walking according to the Spirit… letting the Spirit lead… listening to the Spirit… it’s a definite battle, but it’s so comforting to know that He who is in us, has conquered the world… and He can also conquer our sinful, fleshly natures!

  • on scene six, is that showing that we use the Rod of Aaron against the flesh 🙂

    Really good post! Actually the Bible calls for more extreme action against the flesh. We are not only to starve it, but put it to death!

    So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Rom 8:12-13)

    This is what has been known as the Mortification of sin. Mortifying the deeds of the flesh.

    I loved your conection to what we watch. I know so many Christians that stumble on this point. They think that they can put anything in to their minds and be okay. What a deadly delusion!

    Thanks for the post.

  • If you can’t control your own desires, or fear that you are going to be taken over, then you are quite possibly the most pathetic person I have ever heard of. And it has nothing to do with religion.

    Simply pathetic.

  • Right, not religion – relationship with God. God is perfection; the further from Him, the closer to sin. (We cannot defeat sin on our own – just try being perfect for a week or two, at least, everyone but Jesus I’ve ever met has always failed.)

    God Bless,

  • PS: Coyote, we are pathetic. Each and every single one of us. That’s why we need Jesus – that’s why we need the cross. I hope that makes sense. If not, just pose your questions.

    BTW: Fun cartoon, Joshua!

  • ~Wow~

    That is very good. It would be wonderful as a tract because the picture keep the viewer reading and it would be easier to remeber!

    Love it! It is Salvation explained so simply….

  • can we, like, reprint this? Would that be legal and okay?
    this is really great! The pictures really stick with a person (esp the image of the underwear falling off the flesh 🙂 )

  • Wonderful! This was so timely, too. I believe God directed me to this post (praise Him!). I had just gone through a time of wanting to give into my flesh. But now I am strengthened, and, by God’s grace working mightily in me, I shall not give into that death.

  • I love those cartoons!! Especially the last one!

    Also, that is a really, really good message (or article) below it. I really think God wants me to share that with my neighbor. Thanks so much!!

  • Justin (2 posts above) sums it up for me. Thank you Joshua for this great encouragement. God bless you, and keep up the good work.

    Paul 🙂

  • Joshua Harris: You are an amazing artist! That comic is so full of meaning, but is said so openly and simply that anyone and everyone can understand and be blessed by it, and wonderfully amused by those illustrations. :c)

    ~ Elisabeth J. Gruber

  • This is really great. I never really thought about feeding the flesh in the that way before.
    This is completely true!

  • The last picture ALMOST makes me want to pity the poor flesh…but not quite. Good job with the balance of “cute” comics and evil!!!!!!! Haha getting a little serious, but I laughed. It was quite funny!!


  • That was a great artical Joshua! The cartoons are so clever!
    BTW, My family got rid of TV when I was about six years old and it has been one of the best things we ever did. We no longer had to turn our eyes away every few seconds and we got more things done since we were not spending hours every evening watching it. Now I know that their are kids out there saying “What! She doesn’t have a TV? How does she survive?” so let me explain. We have a TV but we do not have cable. We just have a lot of movies. No, maybe I should say we have a TON of movies. All of them my parents have watched before my brothers and I do, to make sure that they are perfectly clean. Believe me everybody, it’s the best way. 🙂 I can’t help but smile when I think of how many great movies we have. In fact, various people we know are constantly asking us “Can I borrow this film?”. We are practically running a movie rental! 🙂
    But, we are always looking for more great movies. Does anybody have some recommendations?

    God bless!

    Sarah. 🙂

  • This is so true. Both guys and girls are tempted by the flesh in many ways. We can’t defeat it by ourselves; we need the Bible, prayer, and support of Christian friends and family.

  • i had no other forum to express my feelings.

    i stumbled across the survey concerning female modesty. quite disgusting.
    what women should wear in order to better serve male needs. surprisingly,
    this is EXACTLY what IMMODEST dress is, as well. both modest and immodest
    clothing are tailored for men. at least, this is what females are taught. Immodesty is
    meant to catch the male eye. Modesty is meant to enable men to ‘control’ themselves.
    Super. One day, i hope women can learn to dress with no ties to males at all.
    how disappointing that you are aiding the oppression of women under the name of God.

  • Great comic series. Fun drawings and a good message. Very interesting, it’s good, simple language that makes it easy to understand. 🙂

  • Sarah —

    That is really neat! My family’s story is quite similar except that we have not found more than probably ten videos that we deem worth watching. A few would be Ben-Hur (my all time favorite!) The Stratton Story, The Spirit of Saint Louis (about Lindbergh and his plane. In this one the main character mentions God and “not needing Him.” Watch to the end, however, and you’ll be delighted at how this takes a turn at the very end!) Lastly, Behind the Sun, which you can order through Vision Forum. As I Googled it another video popped up so make sure you’ve got the right one! It’s about a man persecuted by his family for his faith. This one ranks up there with Ben-Hur and is definitely one worth watching! I wish it were longer! What are some that you enjoy?


  • that was extremely amazing!!! 🙂
    disappointed, i just need to say that woman clothing is not the only clothing that should be tailored. Male clothing should as well (or lack of clothing). how many times have you seen a guy with out a shirt on and his pants falling down thought that they were cute? when you do think that, that would be sinning as well and they should not do that just like we shouldn’t dress immodestly. it goes both ways. so either we are oppressing/hurting each other or we do it to build one another up. your choice. but i choose building one another up.

    <3 kendrea

  • Thanks Kendrea! I wholeheartedly agree. It is a crying shame that neither ladies or guys always choose to protect the opposite gender’s thoughts and emotions by dressing properly. I’d love to find a book I could recommend to young people in need of this knowledge whether they’d be a gal or a guy. Do you know of any?

    Under the Mercy,

  • Very powerful, yet funny. I love the cartoon drawings. It illistrates what happens when we feed the flesh. (AKA Jabba the Hut meet WWF wrestler.)

  • “Don’t do things—don’t think things, don’t watch things, don’t meditate on things—that strengthen your sinful inclinations.”

    I need to work on that. It’s a powerful reminder to run away from temptation.
    Nice drawings!!

  • “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature… since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Colossians 3:5,9-10

    Cast off the Old, Cling to the New!
    To Christ’s Crown and Covenant we must ever be true –
    So Cast off the Old, Cling to the New!
    By His blood Christ has cleansed His Bride through and through –
    Therefore Cast off the Old, Ever Cling to the New!

  • “Come, O come thou captive of sin,
    Thy King reigns on high in great power.
    Thou hast slain the great dragon that prowled within
    But thou facest another this hour.
    Be Strong and Courageous – this is thy command,
    In Faith harken unto his voice.
    In Victory today thou surely wilt stand,
    If now thou wilt make the Right Choice!”

    Choose Life, Choose Christ, Choose Today!

  • I found you’re blog via searching the net and I have to say. A Huge Thank you so much, I thought that the article was very educational I will come back to see what additional great information I can recieve here.

  • So very true…the sad thing is that a life of fighting, feeding, fighting and feeding. Leaves one frustrated defeated and wondering why it has to be so hard.

rebelling against low expectations

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