Overcoming the Flesh - Worry
Glenn Goodwin

The promise of the Word of God is: "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son." Revelation 21:7. Christians are challenged to overcome, or triumph over the "motions of sins" that move in our carnal natures. Romans 7:5. These "motions of sin" are perverted human emotions. God gave humans emotions - love, respect, etc., and His creation was good, and very good. Our emotions are to be exercised to love the Lord, to love righteousness and to hate evil. Psalms 97:10, Amos 5:15. But the "law of sin" - a law as hard to break as the law of gravity - brings perverted emotions.

That law directs us into the "works of the flesh." Galatians 5:19. We are to overcome these perverted emotional states. We may not ever be sinless, but we can all sin less. In the final installment of this five-part series, we address the problematic human emotional state of worry. This will be a biblical evaluation of excess worry in life that not only analyzes the problem, but also supplies the means for resolving the problem. Part V: Worry Some people are professional worriers. They expect the worst to happen. Not only are they pessimists, they are forever playing out "what ifs." Some concern is appropriate for a responsible adult, but excessive worry will interfere with your ability to serve God. Worry is the result of disbelief. If we truly believe that God is sovereign in all things, that He loves us, and that all things work together for our good, then what is there to worry about? The Proverbs of Solomon inform us that fretting is foolishness. Christian maturity involves reaching a level of peace where we have problems that would worry others but, "none of these things move me." Acts 20:24.

Sinful worry is whenever a child of God is concerned about the wrong things, or is handling legitimate concerns the wrong way, or is looking to the wrong person to solve the problems of life. Let's consider each of these scenarios. First, Christians sometimes worry about the wrong things. People worry about the things that are important to them - how to pay bills, whether they will have good health, the future of their family, etc. Your anxieties reveal your priorities. But are they God's priorities for your life? Are you concerned about the things that really matter? 500 years into the Millennial reign of Christ, will your worries have had any significance? Make a list of your worries, then analyze the list to see if those are also God's priorities.

For example, a person may worry about what clothes to wear to a function. The anxiety may build over several days as the event approaches. There is a strong desire to dress in a certain way to impress others or to bolster sagging pride. Everything must be "just right." It may be important to us, but what does the Lord think of this priority? Jesus asked His followers why should they take thought for rainment; since God would provide all their needs. Matthew 6:28. Paul warned the believers not to compare themselves with others. II Corinthians 10:12. Similarly, excessive worry about finances may be the result of spending too much to satisfy carnal lusts. We want, so we buy, but we can't afford. Then we worry about where we will get the money to pay our debts. Yet the Lord may be more concerned that we get our financial priorities straight and change our value system. I Timothy 6:6-11.

One time Jesus was talking to people in the house of the two sisters, Mary and Martha. Mary was listening, while her sister was busy preparing a meal. Finally, Martha was exasperated and asked Jesus to tell Mary to help her. But it wasn't just the meal. Martha had prepared meals before. She had been worrying over many things, and finally the insignificant matter set her off. Martha was full of care and trouble about many things, not the one thing that was needful. Luke 10:41-42. This happens to everyone. We "stew" for hours or days about our troubles and problems, then one small event happens, and we lose control. We reach the limit of our restraint and seemingly-minor circumstances can cause us to say things that we shouldn't say, or do things that are not right. Perhaps we need to repent for our sinful priorities that got us into trouble in the first place. Jesus told us what we are to worry about. We are not to worry about money, food, drink, clothing, housing and all the things the ungodly spend their time worrying about. "(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." Matthew 6:32. Rather, we are to be concerned about "the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all of these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33. Why should a child of the Lord worry? He will supply all their needs. Philippians 4:19.

The Lord always provides for His own. Psalms 37:23-25. No good thing will he withhold from His people. Psalms 84:11. Christians should not worry about the wrong things. Secondly, we may have right priorities, but we may handle our legitimate concerns the wrong way. If our worry is over legitimate concerns, then the Lord has already told us how to deal with a concern to God. We need to learn to lean not on our own understanding to solve our problems. Proverbs 3:5. The truth is, fallen man in his depravity is not smart enough to handle all the problems of life alone. We are to lean on the Lord. Micah 3:11. "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." Deuteronomy 33:27. We are to ask the Lord to give us this day our daily bread - not abundant riches, designer clothes, astounding popularity, good looks, extraordinary personality or anything else that the Gentiles seek. Matthew 6:11. The wise man prays, give me neither riches nor poverty. Proverbs 30:8-9. Finally, people sometimes worry because they depend upon the wrong person to solve their problems.

They should worry - if they are leaning on the arm of flesh. It is natural to worry when you are depending on an unreliable source of help. You may be depending on your husband for strength - when you know he has cut and run before. You may be hoping that the boss on the job will give you a raise or bonus to get you out of a financial difficulty. There are thousands of other scenarios, but they are not the answer to the problems of life. Some people lean on the wrong thing and get "snake-bit." Amos said that it was like a man fleeing from a lion, who gets mauled by a bear, or one who flees into the house for safety, leans on a wall and gets bit by a snake. Amos 5:19. We have all been in situations where we felt we had an escape route or plan all figured out, and an unforeseen event derails all our plans.

That is because we depended on our own ability or depended on someone to help us. Our help should come from the Lord. Psalms 121:2. Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help. Isaiah 31:1. Instead, Christians are to cast your cares on Him - not someone else. I Peter 5:7. The Bible teaches that believers are to trust in the Lord, and not in the arm of flesh. II Chronicles 32:7-8. We can change the pattern of worry! The Bible is very explicit that worry is sin. The King James Version translates the Greek word for worry as "care," "careful," and "take thought." The word, "marimnao," means to be anxious about something. the root word is "merizo" which means to divide, to distract.

A sinful worry, then is one that divides the heart's single-mindedness, and distracts you from serving the Lord with a pure heart, fervently. Paul wrote to the Christians to be careful (marimnao) for nothing. Philippians 4:6. Don't worry about anything. Disobedience to this command is sin. The cares (merizo) of this world can choke the spiritual life of a child of God. Mark 4:16. Paul's legitimate concerns drove him to prayer. We sin when we let our concerns drive us to distraction. There is a 3-step process to overcome excessive worry. Pray right; think right; and, do right. All three found in Philippians 4:6-9. Step one is to pray right. Take every concern to the Lord in prayer. Philippians 4:6-7. Don't just rattle off a quick prayer, or pray by rote; but begin with thanksgiving, and spend time talking with the Lord. Rather than worry about his physical infirmity (Is it cancer? Am I going to die?), Paul prayed till he got an answer. II Corinthians 12:8. Praying right sometimes means to pray in the Spirit. I Corinthians 14:15. Jude encouraged the saint to be praying in the Holy Ghost. Jude 20. A believer can enter into the closet of prayer, shut out all of the concerns of life, give their cares to the Lord, and feel the breakthrough - once "the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Romans 8:26. Step two is to think right. Analyze your thoughts. Philippians 4:8. The thoughts we entertain in our minds are to be true, or accurate; honest, or honorable; just, or right; pure, or undefiled; lovely, or full of love; of a good report, or such that we would not be ashamed for others to know them; virtuous, or morally upright; and, praiseworthy, or commendable.

This requires that we bring thoughts into captivity. II Corinthians 10:5. Read the Psalms and you'll see that David didn't keep worry in his thoughts very long; he quickly turned his thoughts to God and His promises. His worries were quickly replaced with praises. Perhaps you should meditate on God's Word more. "I'm no good at meditating, you say?" What do you think worry is? Worry is meditation about bad things; why not replace that with meditation about the good things of God? The third step is to do right. Do right and the God of peace shall be with you. Philippians 4:9. Once you are thinking right, you must do right. James 4:17. All our words and deeds are to be done in the name of Jesus. Colossians 3:17. This means that we must not only guard our thoughts, but control our actions. Instead of withdrawing from your family and brooding for hours about your problems, pray and trust Him, then go out and be a good mother to your children, etc. If you wake up in the night with a mind full of worries, replace them with prayer and meditation about the goodness of God's promises. Worry in the heart makes for a heavy load to carry, but good words make a glad heart. Proverbs 12:25. What words are better than God's Word? The secret to a worry-free life is to implement this scripture: "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." Psalms 55:22.

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