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Devotional Part 6

25 Mar 2021

Mark 9:24


“I believe, help me in my unbelief”


The cry of the heart of every disciple, I believe, but there’s a constant battle between my belief and my unbelief, between the flesh and the spirit.


My unbelief may, as with this man, evidence itself by asking me to take a step of faith further than what my understanding enables me to. But it may also manifest itself as areas of my heart, my affections, and life where Christ is not submitted to as Lord.


That unbelief will manifest itself in terms of behaviours which are sinful, however, no amount of behaviour modification can address the issue. The real issue leading to sinful behaviour is an issue of my affections, my loves, my desires, my heart. It is therefore an issue of false worship and idolatry. It is a spiritual issue manifesting in the flesh.


No amount of behaviour modification can can change that, because the flesh cannot drive out the flesh. You may be able to control your behaviour for a period of time, but then, just when you least expect it, you are right back embroiled in that same sin.


This process can go on for years, and inevitably leads to a feeling of deflation and defeat.


You can’t overcome the sinful desires of the flesh by simply changing your behaviours. The behaviour is a symptom of a deeper problem. Until the root cause is dealt with the symptoms will continue to emerge.


Sometimes, we manage to overcome a certain sin through behaviour modification and think this to be a victory. However, in these instances, the sin simply manifests itself through a different behaviour. It becomes like a game of whack a mole where we take the hammer of behaviour modification and whack the sin wherever we see it pop up. But the reality is that, just like that pesky mole, sin will rear its ugly little head somewhere else. We’ve got to reach under the game table and disconnect the arm that the mole is attached to so that it can never pop up again.


The flesh cannot overcome the flesh. What resource does it have at its disposal, in its armoury in order to do that? Furthermore, why would it want to? Surely the flesh represents all that is in us that is fallen and sinful, and as such opposed to God. So where would the flesh get the will, desire, and motivation to overcome itself? It simply cannot and will not.

Behaviour modification only deals with the fruit of our unbelief, idolatry, and sin. We must get to the root, understand it and name it for what it is if we are to ever overcome it.


It takes a new spirit dwelling within us in order to drive out the sinful desires of the flesh. The new spirit, the Holy Spirit, ushers in new affections, new loves, new desires, and ultimately new (and true) worship.


We will never overcome the sinful deeds of the flesh until we have lost our taste for our sin. We will only find new and more inventive ways to justify those sins.


The only way to overcome them is by having a greater desire and affection for Christ than we do for our sin.


The secret to overcoming our sin is in pursuing Christ, by fuelling our desire for Him and for all the promises guaranteed to us through Christ. By meditating on His word and teachings, to have His word dwelling richly in us at all times, which is also to be filled with the Spirit whose role it is to lead us into all truth, teach us all things, and remind us of what He has said.


Jesus offers us another clue in the overcoming of these areas of unbelief in vs 29.


“This kind cannot be driven out but by prayer (and fasting)”


Perhaps we need to be paying greater attention to the spiritual practices recommended to us by our Lord if we are going to follow in The Way.

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