Have you ever wondered why some people can hear the Word of God every Sunday for years, but never manifest the miracle-working power of God's Word? Jesus told us about five things that keep the Word from working in people's lives – affliction, persecution, cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and lusts of other things. (Mark 4: 17-19)
Five Things that can Stop the Miracle-Working Power of the Word
Affliction is thlipsis in Greek. It means pressure, trouble, or tribulation. When the Word is preached on a particular subject, you can almost count on the devil bringing about circumstances to put pressure on that Word. For example, after you hear a message on prosperity, you will get an unexpected bill!
Persecution is pressure that comes, not from circumstances, but people. Satan will assign individuals to be a thorn in your flesh, just like he did for Paul. (2 Corinthians 12:7) They will try to convince you to doubt and not believe, to walk away from the things of God, to join them in ungodly lifestyles, or they will attempt to intimidate you to keep you from sharing your faith.
Cares of this world are distractions. They may not be sin, but they are things that loudly demand your attention, time, and money.
The deceitfulness of riches is not wealth. Money is not evil, but the love of it is. You can be prosperous, and the Word will work for you as long as you don’t allow money to deceive you into trusting in it instead of God.
The lust of other things is a longing for something, particularly for something that is forbidden. Epithumia is the Greek word that is translated lust. The flesh has normal and natural desires – for food, water, and rest – for example, but lust reaches a higher level of desire. What is lust, and how can someone be free from it?
The Flesh Struggle
When people hear the word lust, they most often relate it to inordinate or inappropriate sexual desires, but people can lust for money, food, possessions, or other things. Paul wrote, Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. (Romans 6:12) Lust comes from your body, not your spirit. It prioritizes its hunger above a desire for God.
The Apostle Paul discussed the flesh struggle several times in his writings. For example, in Romans 7:18, he wrote, For I know that in me [that is, in my flesh,] dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Although we are not merely a body, we dwell in one on this earth. Our eternal being is a spirit, and we have a soul, which is our mind, will, and emotions. The body is nothing more than a house. On a side note, fighting with one another over the fact that the colors of our houses are different makes no sense! We are made in God's image. He is Spirit, and so are we. However, while we live here, we have to deal with our flesh. Paul continued his discussion about the flesh struggle: For I delight in the law of God after the inward man, But I see another law in my members [body parts], warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:22-25)
A Higher Law
Paul mentioned the law of sin in his discussion about the flesh struggle. Law means a principle. There are principles of sin and principles of God. The good news is that God’s laws are higher, and they overcome the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2 tells us There is therefore now no condemnation [judgment] to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
You can overcome the flesh's desires through the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus – the Anointed One and His Anointing. In other words, there is keeping power in the Word and the anointing.
Practical Steps to Overcome Lust
Remember that the real you is a spirit. When your body wants to do something that you know is contrary to God’s will for you, tell it, as my children used to say, “You’re not the boss of me!” Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 9:27: But I keep under [hit under the eye] my body and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway [lost]. In other words, he treated his body roughly to keep it in its place.
You can choose not to allow sin to rule your body! In Romans 6:12-14, Paul wrote, Let not sin therefore reign [rule] in your mortal body that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof, neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion [control] over you for ye are not under the law under grace.
The Greek word that is translated yield is paristemi. It means to stand beside. It is easier to resist temptation when you are standing close to God and away from sin. Paul's advice was to make no provision for the flesh. (Romans 13:14) You have to say, "No" to things that bring you close to that which for you lust. For example, if you have a problem with overeating, you probably shouldn’t go on a cruise that has all you can eat buffets available 24/7. If you've had issues with alcohol, you shouldn't hang around bars. If you're tempted sexually, you need to avoid movies, music, websites, and people that present opportunities for sexual lust to indulge itself.
Never say you can’t control yourself! Speak the Word! Say, Sin shall not have control over me. The anointing keeps me from sin. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death!