30 Ways Your Flesh Reacts to Trouble

You arrive at a moment of crisis. Perhaps you are in your boss’s office or the medical clinic. You’re fighting with your spouse or you’ve heard bad news. The heat is on and the pressure’s rising.

What do you do?

The smart thing to do is take five, lean into God, and see what he says. Let him guide you through the storm. But that’s not what your flesh wants to do. Oh no. Your flesh wants to ACT NOW, take charge and work the problem.

What is the flesh?

The flesh refers to our natural selves as opposed to our spirits. To heed the flesh is to lean on your own strength and understanding. It’s walking by sight instead of faith.

When faced with a crisis, your flesh will instinctively react. It will want to run or fight or take charge. It’s perfectly natural. But the problem is your flesh can distract you from the Lord. Listen to your flesh and you may miss what the Spirit is saying.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Here are 30 ways that our flesh reacts to trouble:

  • Chicken flesh – “Trouble? I’m outta here”
  • Quitter flesh – “That’s it, I’m done, we’re through”
  • Bully flesh – “It’s my way or the highway”
  • Nike flesh – “Just do it, git ‘er done”
  • Cavalry flesh – “I need to be needed”
  • Sunny-day flesh – “We’re okay” (even when we’re not okay)
  • I’m right you’re wrong flesh – “Yeah, but…”
  • Whiney flesh – “Pleeeease? I’ll be your friend”
  • Detective flesh – “I’m gonna figure you out”
  • Macgyver flesh – “I’m gonna fix this”
  • Martyr flesh – “If I don’t do it, nobody will”
  • Scrooge flesh – “You’ll get nothing from me”
  • Daddy Warbucks flesh – “Let me write a check”
  • Magnifier flesh – “This is a huuuge problem”
  • Maverick flesh – “I don’t need nuttin’ from anyone”
  • Loner flesh – “Nobody understands me”
  • Self-pity flesh – “Nobody loves me”
  • Ken & Barbie flesh – “I need to look good”
  • Mr Hyde flesh – “Don’t make me angry!”
  • Insecure flesh – “What do you mean by that?”
  • Can’t say no flesh – “Sure boss, I can work weekends”
  • Histrionic flesh – “Look at meeee!”
  • Workaholic flesh – “I don’t have time for this right now”
  • Herod flesh – “You need to know your place”
  • Boss flesh – “You need to lift your game”
  • Anxious flesh – “It’s hopeless”
  • Victim flesh – “It’s not my fault”
  • Milquetoast flesh – “I won’t make trouble”
  • Mature flesh – “I used to think like you but I’ve grown”
  • Religious flesh – “Thank God I am not like you”
  • Christian flesh – “My Jesus is better than your Jesus”

Know your lures. Your flesh will tempt you with the promise of control (“You got this!”) while robbing you of the opportunity to hear your Father.

When the pressure comes, don’t react. Stop.

Be still. Breathe.

Hit the pause button, and ask your Father how to lead you in the path of life.

What flesh types did I miss? Let me know in the comments below?

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This list was inspired by Ralph Harris’s excellent book, God’s Astounding Opinion of You, chapter 7. An earlier version of this article appeared on Patreon and I am grateful for feedback provided by patrons. To learn more, check out the entry for The Flesh in the Grace Glossary.

13 Comments on 30 Ways Your Flesh Reacts to Trouble

  1. Excellent!”. So true, Thank you Paul.

  2. I LOVE this post! You and Ralph make a great team. I love this so-true list of flesh types. I loved laughing as I read them, too! Yep, I see mine in there. (plural 🙂 But thanks to Father’s indwelling divine enablement, I don’t have to live that way! Father leads in surprising and amazing ways.

  3. Programmed flesh – “What do the people on the TV screen say I should do?”

  4. Ambangira Edson // January 20, 2023 at 5:08 pm // Reply

    Knowledge flesh- “ I’m the one who knows it all” I’m the only one who is right; every other opinion doesn’t count or matter. Those folks who believe it has to be done ‘their way’ and limit God to their own circles and experiences. This reminds me in Mark 9:38 John said to Him, Teacher, we saw a man who does not follow along with us driving out demons in Your name, and we forbade him to do it, because he is not one of our band [of Your disciples].
    39 But Jesus said, Do not restrain or hinder or forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in My name will soon afterward be able to speak evil of Me. 40 For he who is not against us is for us. [Num. 11:27-29.]

  5. Surprising that you came up with 30 and there’s still more. That’s a wide road.

    • In its desire to take control, the flesh will exhibit unbridled creativity. Sometimes it will even try to convince you that it is the Holy Spirit.

      • Great point, thank you. Sometimes I’m too brief, so just wanted to mention I was making a reference to Mt. 7:13 in my original comment.

  6. How did you know Paul ?!! , wonderful great reminder and spelling out of what Igo through – A LOT – been either silent screaming-fretting or outwardly panicking especially at the momentThanks to ABBA that He is gracious,loving, patient and is not put off by the ‘fleshes meltdowns and paddies’ in His kids or else I would’ve been ‘ejected’ a long time ago. Thanks to ABBA that He completely gets us and knows why we react and cope the way we do a lot-forgetting that He IS actually there almost acting like there is no “God/Father /Saviour“to help usand still loves and lovingly helps us regardless of/ despite us. Thanks to ABBA that He has amazing tolerance and sense of humour!!

  7. Order follower flesh – “It doesn’t matter what I think about the situation, my role is to do whatever my superiors tell me to do”. This is a substantial stone used to build and hold the beast system together. Totalitarianism makes particularly special use of this flesh response. Untold amounts of well-meaning, well-intentioned people have been used as agents of evil to force compliance to the dictates of mad men upon mass populations all due to manipulated perceptions of who is in charge. Human authority over other humans does not exist in Christ (aka God’s kingdom, Christ consciousness, walking in the light, walking after the Spirit, living free in the truth, thriving off the Grace of God). In reality, there is no such thing as a chain of “command”, only the chain of “obedience” based on PERCEIVED authority.

    To me, “the flesh” equates to the fallen mind structure of Adam. And that fallen mind’s imagination has erected this hell of earth we are experiencing. Praise God for the finished work of Christ who has plopped the Holy Spirit right in the middle of this mess and it will all be transformed one person at a time from the inside out.

    Apologies for the rambling. Great post, Paul.

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