But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts Romans 13:14
Provision – It’s that last ten pounds. We start diets to lose weight. The first few pounds come off. Then we get invited to a dinner party or we go to the movies or we meet for lunch with our friends. Suddenly we are faced with a big problem. The menu doesn’t allow for the diet. All that good stuff we used to eat is right there in front of us. Now what?
Paul knew nothing about the South Beach Diet, but he knew a lot about his diet plan. His diet is not about weight loss and it doesn’t start with calorie counting. It begins in the mind. Paul’s spiritual diet is about lustful anticipations. Paul tells us to make absolutely certain that we make no allowances for the “just in case” behaviors that destroyed our lives in the first place.
The alcoholic who keeps just one bottle in the bottom drawer just in case problems overwhelm him. The drug addict who keeps that distributor’s number just in case he has a really bad night. The man who keeps a photo of a past mistress. The woman who holds on to a past romance from long ago. The businessman who squirrels away some hidden, unreported income. The church member who has a secret chat room ID he swears he will never use again. You can add your own “provisions” to the list. The best ones are secrets kept in plain sight. As Stevie Ray would say, “Things that I used to do.”
Paul says, “No! Don’t even allow the slightest possibility.” Actually, the Greek word is pronoian, a word derived from “before” and “to think”. In other words, don’t think about it beforehand. Don’t plan for the possibility of lusts (literally, sarkos – the flesh). Just thinking about it brings back emotions that can trip you up. Turning those things over in your mind, anticipating that they will one day once again be possible, is a very dangerous behavior. Why? Is it because God doesn’t want you to remember some past pleasure with nostalgic fondness? Is it because God is a cruel taskmaster who just wants your total obedience to His next order? Of course not. Paul gives these instructions because he knows that God’s perfect purposes worked out in your life are the very best circumstances for you. God is conforming you to the image of His Son. That process leads away from past sinful actions and future, anticipated sins. It is a singular focus on the will of the Father in your life. Here Paul would say, “Forgetting what lies behind, I press on.” If Paul were writing a weight loss book, he would tell you to stay away from the restaurants, dinner parties and theaters. He would cross off every McDonald’s and prohibit all snacks. But since he is writing about our spiritual well-being, you will have to fill in the “don’t go there” list.
I am sure you agree. God wants your best and engineers your life to bring about what is best for you in the fulfillment of His purposes. But that requires concentration on Him and denial of self. Anticipating “just in case” behaviors is a sign of unbelief and distrust. It just doesn’t fit. So, don’t allow it.
Every diet plan is unique to the individual because every one of us has a unique set of propensities and past experiences. But in total they are all common to the human frame. So, lean on each other. Share your burdens. Lift up each other. Build safety nets in your community. We are all in this together and when it comes to spiritual health, we all need plenty of help.
Topical Index: provision, backup plans, pronoian, think, Romans 13:14