Graves of the Longing

Melissa Wharton is a student at UMKC and a leader in C&YA. She is involved in Temple Worship, our worship team, and leads a girls bible study in Waldo. In this post Melissa explains what it means to walk with Christ and deny one's flesh.

Have you buried your lusts?

I hadn’t—not all of them—until God wrecked me these past few weeks.

Sure, I don’t go around lusting after people, things, money, the objects we mention every time we talk about lust. But I was still fulfilling the lusts of the flesh in small, everyday ways that ultimately affect my walk with Christ deeply. After all, he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much (Luke 10:16).


This looked like spending my several-hour-long breaks between classes surfing the web as the young folks say, or watching Netflix or playing Zelda when I get home from work, or literally just kind of sitting around. Most often these things happen (of course) when I haven’t really spent time with God in his prayer and his word. Sure, I’ve “meditated” on his word by thinking of memorized verses or Sunday’s messages or listening to scriptural songs, but I’ve not actually sat at Jesus’ feet. It’s shameful for me to admit, but the thing I struggle with most in my walk with Christ is denying my flesh even the things which are simplest to overcome in order to spend time with him in the word and in prayer. More often than not, my flesh wins.

But then I started listening to Pastor Mark Trotter’s series on the Book of Revelation.

Pastor Trotter is an elder in the Living Faith Fellowship of churches, and God has used his preaching to knock me down me more than once. As for his Revelation series, it’s part of his WordStrong ministry, and you can listen to the sessions online or in a podcast streaming app. But back to the story.

I’m on episode 18 of the series and it’s only reached chapter two, and God has remarkably blown my mind. He has given me a profoundly deeper understanding of the person of Christ; a hyper awareness of the times in which we live; and an incredibly humbled recognition of what my response to these things is, and what it ought to be.

Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father. He thought it not robbery to be equal with God because he IS God—Jehovah God—and yet he humbled himself to take on the form of a servant and died the death of the cross. The Holy One who will reign for ever and ever amen gave his very life for my own.

I fight and I war within myself against my flesh, yet I have no victory because I don’t ask for it consistently.

We live in the last days. The things prophesied of throughout the Bible must shortly come to pass. Soon the Church will be gone in the blink of an eye, and just like that grace will be too. We have no time to waste. The souls of men hang in the balance.

And yet how do I live? I spend minutes upon hours upon days fulfilling the simplest and yet most distracting lusts of my flesh. I go to church, I practice with the praise team, I lead my Bible study and yet I am living in a place of stagnancy.

So what am I to do? Well, what I did was cry my eyes out to God on a Tuesday night while driving home from church. I told the Lord that I was tired of living this way, and that I was tired of praying that I’m tired of praying that I’m tired of living this way. I’ve prayed that prayer so many times in the seven years I’ve been saved, and yet I find that I’m still bound to these struggles.

And then, the Spirit made me recognize a truth that I’ve seen in the word so many times and has only just truly clicked:

The problem is not that I have to pray to God over and over asking him to help me overcome my flesh. The problem is that I don’t pray to him over and over asking him to help me overcome my flesh.

James 4:1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

I fight and I war within myself against my flesh, yet I have no victory because I don’t ask for it consistently.

I tend only to pray those prayers when I come to a crisis point, and then don’t pray it again until the next crisis. It is not shameful to ask God to help us overcome the lusts of the flesh; rather, there is joy and glorying in Christ by doing so. I must daily—hourly at times—be asking the Lord to help me overcome the lusts of my flesh. And there is no shame or reproach in that.

these things were written as examples for us

I’d been reading in 1 Corinthians, and after all these revelations culminated on that Tuesday night, I continued on into chapter 10 when I got home. In this chapter Paul tells us that the Israelites’ disobedience is an example to us of how we need to live as followers of Christ, and each of the admonitions Paul gives us lines up exactly with what the Lord has been revealing to me.

The five admonitions given to us in 1 Corinthians 10:

1. That we should not lust after evil things, v. 6

  • What are evil things? Well, the things the Israelites lusted after were things God had not given them, like the luxurious foods they had in Egypt. Was the bread from Heaven not enough for them? Is it not enough for us? (Num 11, Heb 13:5)

2. Neither be idolaters, v. 7

  • The Israelites turned to other gods to worship them. Remember that worship is simply what we give our lives to. Do we give our lives to the whims of our flesh, or to the gospel of Christ? (Exo 32, Gal 5:24)

3. Neither commit fornication, v. 8

  • The Israelites committed both physical and spiritual fornication. Physically they performed sexual acts outside of the context of marriage, and spiritually they played the harlot in their relationship with God. In either regard, we need to be vigilant to flee fornication. (Num 25, 1Co 6:18-20)

4. Neither tempt Christ, v. 9

  • The Israelites always accused God of mistreating them and tried to force his hand. Do you blame God and try to force him to move in your life, or do you trust his promises to provide for and guide you? (Num 26, Mat 6:31-33)

5. Neither murmur, v. 10

  • Perhaps the most common transgression of the Israelites, they persistently complained about their situation. They blamed God for their wandering, they said he didn’t care about them, they spoke against the leadership he’d put in place. Do you submit to the Lord’s work in your life, or do you murmur against it in unbelief and discontent? (Num 14, Php 2:14-16)

Are your lusts still roaming the earth?

Paul then says in verse 11 that these things were written as examples for us, “upon whom the ends of the world are come.”

We are living in the very last days. The ends of the world are very nigh, so we simply cannot afford to live in complacency, fulfilling empty lusts.

We must live in abandon for the gospel. We must be as bold as our brothers and sisters who were beaten, burned, driven through with stakes, torn asunder in the first and second centuries, all so that the gospel could reach us and save our souls here in our comparatively peaceful lives in the 21st.

We must be determined to die to our flesh daily, by asking Christ daily to help us die to it. We must take heed to the example of Numbers 11 (which Paul references in 1 Corinthians 10). The Israelites lusted after worldly luxury—despite God having provided their daily needs—and because of their lust he smote many with a plague.

Num 11:34  And he called the name of that place Kibrothhattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted.

The name God gave that place, Kibrothhattaavah, means literally graves of the longing.

So I ask again: have you buried your lusts? Are your lusts still roaming the earth, or have you interred them in the graves of the longing?

We have but little time, saints. Let us be buried in the life of Christ.