“Let’s put it in the pot!” is a very funny line in the movie Cold Mountain, referring to a rooster which was acting like a barnyard terror and that badly need to be captured and cooked. But it applies to us—that is, anything about us that doesn’t match up with Jesus.
The first stage of crucifying the flesh is containment. Realize what shouldn’t be released into the world around you and put it in the pot instead. Are you getting angry and want to let some choice words rip? Put it in the pot! Feel like slamming a door? Put it in the pot! Want to give up and phone in for a pity party? Put it in the pot! Oh, and make sure that pot is like an old style pressure cooker with a vent and latches on it to keep stuff from exploding out.
For the first time in their lives, many of the new recruits in our recovery program at the Mission have to learn how to practice this 24/7. Let’s face it: When you’re strung out on drugs or alcohol, crucifying other aspects of your flesh are as low a priority as sobriety. Now, however, they have come under new rules (ours) and new management (the Lord’s). If they don’t put a lot of their old behaviors “in the pot,” they’ll get booted out and they don’t want that, so… They practice containment.
Practicing containment is good; but it is not enough. After a few days, even with the best of intentions, with available vents (sounding off to others) and the usual latches (will power), they are about to blow their lids! That’s when we teach them how to carry their junked up feelings to the Lord. It’s called “A.C.T.ing fast” to Recognize and Replace what you don’t want with what Jesus wants to give you. Here’s the great thing: putting things into the pot forces you to go to Jesus to learn how to empty them out. As you call on Him and cling to Him, and do what His Word says to do with your junk, you grow, grow, grow!
What goes into containment? Attitudes, actions and activities that don’t come from Christ in you. Jesus in you is your hope of glory: He wants to live in you and through you. It’s called incarnation. Is He incarcerated instead? How wrong is that! The old self or former version of ourselves has to go into the pot of containment. How? The key to crucifying the flesh is finding a superior motivation.
Let’s take anger for example. Anybody can manage their anger, if they can latch onto a superior motivation. In the Iliad Homer gives us an unforgettable picture of proud Achilles who “beat his anger down” in order to keep from killing the king of the Greeks during a dispute over a woman. Achilles was only able to put his anger into containment because he had a superior motivation: He didn’t want divide the Greeks and lose the battle for Troy.
Consider addictions. At the Mission we only see men coming into the program of recovery when they are “mature in their misery”—when they have reached the point where their desire to forsake the substance has reached a tipping point of motivation. It’s killing them with misery, so they finally want to put it to death instead of chase it.
Cigarettes also can be extremely addicting. I have a Christian friend who prayed for years for the Lord to “take them” from him. God did, but not by lifting out the desire to smoke (though He sometimes does it that way). My friend’s respiratory health reached a point where he realized that cigarettes really were going to kill him unless he made a concerted effort to put them in the pot. God gave him the victory, but it was by a deliberate choice every five minutes over a period of months, based on reaching for a superior motivation: He wanted to live more than he wanted to smoke!
You can put any unChristlike thing into containment—if you want to badly enough. God has given you the power and it is entirely your choice (see Deuteronomy 30:19-20). The key is motivation. we all have two main motivations: the love of God and the fear of God. Here’s how mine play out:
1) I don’t want to betray Jesus who saved me from hell by crucifying Him instead of my flesh. This is my own specific version of the love of God and I try to keep it ever before me.
2) I don’t want to wreck my life all over again and miss out on the opportunity of living in the “glorious liberty” promised to us in this life. This is my personal version of the fear of God. It got burned into my flesh due to raising hell in my youth—boy, was that a mistake, but at least it’s working for my now as lessons learned about what to avoid.
The flesh is always bondage; Jesus is always life. The pleasure of living in His peace is sufficient motivation to put any peace-robbing thing of the old nature “into the pot!”
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24 ESV
I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20 AMP
For more on defeating strongholds of temptation see Overcoming Temptation at our website.