“…in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Ephesians 4:22-24
God’s desire is that you understand that as you put away from you (put off, throw aside, strip away) the desires of your old way of life because the more you indulge that aspect of your flesh the stronger and stronger it becomes! The more the flesh is fed the hungrier and more demanding it gets.
If you ever have fed your pet table scraps you will understand this illustration. I know that animals don’t have souls, but it is evident they have a will as sometimes they listen and other times they ignore you.
We once had a dog that got used to getting extra food under the table from the hand of our oldest son. She was used to being indulged and her desires were very strong! Her weight got to be an issue and we put a stop to the practice. When she was no longer allowed to have scraps she revealed her desires and will to us by begging, whining, jumping around to be noticed and being a general nuisance.
While we are physically and spiritually vastly different from animals, our desires don’t lie down any better than theirs do. When you deny the flesh it is going to rise up and remind you it is there! The temptation to return to your sin habits will be very strong and you may be very tempted to succumb to them. You may find yourself back in habitual sin without immediately realizing you have done it. In that case you must grab a hold of your thoughts- taking every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5) and fight to keep the flesh at bay.
It is important you understand you cannot just determine to stop sinful behavior because it is a spiritual issue! Paul said in Eph. 6:10 that we are to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. He then outlines our defensive and offensive weapons for battles such as these. Please notice in this passage the parts of your body that this armor of God covers:
Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. Eph. 6:10-17 (ESV)
Your heart, your vital organs, your mind, feet, and brain are all protected by the Spirit of God, and you have the Word of God to use against the lies and deceit of false teachers and their perversions of the Bible's truths.
Your battle is primarily a spiritual one! Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. You will need do attack this God’s way, not yours!