Welcome back to the second half of week 2 blog series post of our 7 week Deadly Series. In this series, we will be discussing 7 deadly sins that God finds detestable to His people, how we should refrain from possessing these toxic traits, and also displays the heavenly opposing traits to combat the 7 deadly ones.
This series will be informative, thought-provoking, and filled with various bible scriptures to help support each discussion-based topic. Within this series, viewers/ readers will access printable and downloadable free content to further enrich their knowledge and gain more Golden Nuggets.
Be sure to pick up a copy of the Deadly Series Worksheets: Greed vs Asceticism.
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Prayer: Heavenly Father, we come to you now to thank you for who you are and what you have done for our lives. We thank you for your divine favor with grace and mercy that you continuously bestow upon us because you love us so. Lord, I am thankful that you brought all of us together to fellowship in your name. God, I ask that you bless the ones who read your word and follow your will. I ask that you bless the ones who apply it to their lives to become closer to you. You said in your Word that blessed are the ones who seek your face in good times and bad. Lord, we thank you for the coverage that you have over our lives, that we can take refuge in you. Father, we know you are a forgiving God and so forgive us of our sins so that we may have another chance to get it right. As we embark through this series, let us find our flaws so that we can change them around for the good. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Spirit of Asceticism
Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind
What is Asceticism? Why should we practice asceticism? Why is asceticism so hard to do? These are the same questions I ask myself too, and the short answer is God requires us to be.
Asceticism: is a strong form of self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence.
Do you have Self-Discipline?
What areas in your life are you overly indulgent in?
What Does The Bible Say About Asceticism?
When He had called the people to Him, with His disciples, He said to them, "if any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it. But whoever would lose his life for My sake and the gospels will save it.
Mark 8: 34-35
Apostle Paul mentions asceticism in Corinthians and 1 Timothy. He explains that Christians should have self-discipline and control over one's self.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
1 Timothy 4: 7-8
What do these scriptures mean to you?
Comment below, I would love to hear from you!
It's amazing how Apostle Paul used the analogy of a trained athlete or runner to get through to the people of God. In order to win this race to get to our eternal reward, self-control and discipline is a must. I cannot stress this enough! This is and can be a hard and brutal concept for a lot of people. This was definitely a hard pill to swallow when I started being called to the church and learning to seek God.
Why Should We Practice Asceticism?
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
Physical Weakness. We should practice being ascetic because physically, we are weak. Our flesh is not meant to be indestructible. We can fall and scrape our knee or better yet, break a bone. We are susceptible to getting colds, the flu, or even Covid-19 for crying out loud. So, physically we are weak. To make matters worse we have the pull of temptation that really kicks us when we are down. It's important to note that the devils' worldly devices, not only hinder spiritual connection but can also be physically harmful. Let’s talk about sex, for example, if we have sex with random people we are opening ourselves up to sexually transmitted diseases which as a result makes us sick. Another example is drugs, if we indulge in them and become addicted then it starts to show in our physical appearance over time. Our teeth can rot or begin to fall out, our lips can become darker, and we can become malnourished. Any desire of the flesh has a negative impact on the body and can result in an increase in physical weakness.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
Pull of the Flesh. When we talk about the pull of the flesh we are talking about temptation. The devil uses a multitude of devices in the world to weaken our connection with God. He uses devices like sex with random people, drugs, money, gambling, stealing, lying, cheating, and so on. He makes these devices appealing and pleasurable to us so that we will want to continue to overindulge in them, which makes our spiritual connection weaker in comparison. We have to be diligent and have the discernment to avoid such temptations. In the bible, God tells us that we cannot serve two masters [Matthew 6:24] because we will either love one and hate the other. This goes for more than just the love of money. It is anything that pulls us away from God and his plans for us. The pull of the flesh is strong because the pull of temptation is strong. Remember that the bible says the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. [John 10:10] Why do you think that is? Why do you think that it is so strong? It has to be in order to get and keep your attention, to make you addicted to it. Why do you think addiction is so hard to beat? The adversary knows what he is doing! He does it because he wants your life, your soul, joy, happiness, and peace; the enemy doesn’t care about you. Practicing asceticism, and strengthening our self-control and discipline will help us to strengthen our spiritual walk with Christ so that we can fight the temptation thrown at us by the devil.
Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Increasing Spiritual Strength. We come into this world as children spiritually weak because we lack the tools needed to strengthen our spiritual life. Living in this world we have to practice asceticism daily so that we can equip ourselves to combat the wiles of the enemy. To increase our spiritual strength we must learn to pray, communicate with God, practice the fruits of the spirit, follow God’s commandments, be slow to anger, put on the whole armor of God, show kindness, worship God, cast our burdens on to God, stop worrying, and so much more. We have to have the self-control and discipline to apply these things to our lives each and every day.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Spiritual Strength through Spiritual Warfare. The particular need for asceticism is to combat the wiles of the devil with the Word of God through your spiritual strength that you got from God. When we are not fully equipped with the Whole Armor of God we are vulnerable to the enemy and his plan. When the scripture says we are not wrestling with the flesh but against principalities and spiritual wickedness in high places, it truly means it. If we are faced with all of that, how on earth do we protect ourselves? We have to cover ourselves through spiritual warfare if not, we are not prepared.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
People In The Bible That Displayed Asceticism
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, there were a lot of examples of people that had greedy tendencies but today we are going to cover some people in the bible that showed a lot of Asceticism.
Jesus in the Wilderness [Matthew 4: 1-11]
Just like us, even Jesus was tempted by the devil himself. After being baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus was led by the spirit to the wilderness. [Matthew 4:1] Jesus was there for forty days and forty nights and was very hungry.
Satan tempted Jesus 3 times. One, was when he told Jesus if he was hungry to turn stones into bread. Jesus responded with a Holy Clap Back, “It is written, Man shall not live off of bread alone” [Matthew 4: 1-4]
The second time Satan asked Jesus to throw himself off a temple stating that God wouldn’t let him die, that his angels would catch him. Jesus once again responded to satan saying, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God” [Matthew 4:4-7]
Lastly, Satan tried again and still failed with tempting Jesus. Satan took Jesus to a high mountain top. He said to Jesus look at this world, I will give it to you if you worship me. Jesus was like, if you don't get away from me, I will worship my Lord and Savior and no one else. [Matthew 4:8-11]
Even Jesus had his times of showing great restraint and self-control, and in doing so satan left and angels came and ministered to him. We need to be like Jesus. There’s power and restraint in self-control.
Nehemiah and the Walls of Jerusalem [Nehemiah 4]
The story of Nehemiah is a great example of what it means to show great discipline and also rely on God in hard and difficult times. Nehemiah was a Jewish leader that was responsible for rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem after the Exodus. When word got around of this, armies of enraged people planned to tear down the wall and kill those who were building it. Instead of retaliating Nehemiah put his trust in God, and continued building until it was finished.
Honorable Mentions of Asceticism
Self-control is waiting for God to get those who do us wrong even though they deserve to be gotten right then! In the meantime and in-between time, love those that persecute you, and love your enemies.
But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good
Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
1 Peter 3:9
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger
Shades of Asceticism
Please take some time now and read some of the shades of asceticism below and see if these apply to you or not. If not, then that’s okay. We are all growing in Christ and are learning each and every day! Take some time to write down some of these statements and go to God in prayer, ask him to help you with encompassing some of them.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.
2 Peter 1:5-7
I have the willpower to get things done!
I am only going to buy what I need because I need to budget!
Going to his/her house alone will be tempting, I will wait until we can hang out with a group of friends!
I can’t go out with my friends tonight because I have so much work to do!
I know the game is on but I will record it and watch it later so that I do not stay up too late!
It’s Saturday, I am going to prepare meals for the week so that I won’t be tempted to eat poorly.
I know my limitations, and I cannot help with that right now I have to stay focused!
I am setting clear boundaries to protect my heart!
Characteristics of Asceticism
Temptation is and can be very difficult to overcome especially when it's being shown, or displayed everywhere. Those who practice asceticism avoid situations that may lead them into temptation. They know themselves well enough to know what is tempting and what isn't. They pray to God to help them fight their temptations and deliver them from it as well. [No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13]
Self-Care is something that we have discussed often on the blog. It is imperative that we take care of the bodies that we have been given. Just like we discussed in Motivational Monday #34: Your Body is An Investment. Our bodies are not ours; they were given to us on a loan from God to fulfill his plan. We cannot be of service to God or anyone else for that matter if we are not disciplined enough to care for ourselves in the way that God deems fit. [Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20]
Those who practice asceticism commit to their promises and they do what they say they will do. They aren't hypocritical, whatever they say they do. God is the best example of Asceticism because he fulfills his promises daily, in fact, there isn't a promise that he hasn't kept. [ If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. Numbers 30:2]
Those that practice asceticism are generally very hard working. When they set out to learn or set new goals they remain focused on that goal until it is accomplished. When given an assignment they work at it through a disciplined schedule. [Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24].
Excellent Boundary Setters
To practice asceticism, you have to know yourself and know your limitations, in all areas of life. Time is something that is a precious commodity that has to be managed accordingly. God has only allotted a specific amount of time for each and every one of us to be here to fulfill the purpose he has set out for us. Part of having the spirit of asceticism means setting boundaries by letting your no be enough. We have to have the self-discipline to say no to things that we do not want to do or things that are distractions from our purpose.[ I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:35]
Those that are proficient in asceticism are disciplined enough to stay focused on the end goal or prize. In our case, if we stay focused on God and live according to his will we will be able to attain our heavenly prize, eternal life in the Kingdom with God. Like I mentioned earlier it is very easy to fall into temptation and give in to the adversaries' devices. Be diligent, have discernment, and stay laser-focused. [But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33]
Greed Kills the Spirit; Asceticism Helps Preserve The Mind
Golden Nuggets I Leave You!
Hey Golden Viewers, I hope today was an eye-opener and informative. I hope you learned a lot about Asceticism and how we need it in your walk with Christ. Remember to be kind to yourself and others, always be the best version of yourself through Christ Jesus.
I hope today’s topic penetrated your mind, heart, and soul. I pray that it moved you in a way that changed your perspective and has shifted you into purpose.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with this, before you do anything in this world, check your heart first. Jesus is the symbol of everlasting love and he came from an everlasting God who created you. Be kind, and show humility and Asceticism. Pride and Greed kills the spirit, but God heals and restores the soul.
My ultimate prayer is that you use the information provided and the tools, like the worksheets to further expand your knowledge. In this, I pray Amen.
Questions To Consider: Ask yourself these questions. Print them out or jot them down and really give them some thought. Feel free to share if desired, no pressure.
Does your temptation override your asceticism? If so, why do you think that is?
Can you honestly say you have control over your mind and body?
Are you spiritually equipped to handle the wiles of the devil?
What is the level of your self-control and self-discipline, does it need improvement? Why or why not?
Read 1 Peter 2:11 and 1 Corinthians 9:27, What are these scriptures saying?
In your own words define asceticism, and what it means to you?