WATCH AND PRAY (How to deal with our old sinful nature!)

MATTHEW 26:40-41: “Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”‭NKJV‬‬

OBSERVATION: How do you deal with the “old man?” I am not speaking about one’s physical age. The “old man” in the Scriptures refers to the flesh, our old sinful nature. We all find ourselves in the struggle between the flesh and the spirit. Jesus made it abundantly clear –

  • “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Recently, I read an article about the famous actor and director Clint Eastwood. He is currently in his 90’s and is beginning another new movie. The interviewer asked him – “How do you keep going and starting new projects at your age?” Clint Eastwood’s reply was – “Each morning I have to chase the old man away.”

Dealing with our old sinful nature is not that easy. We can’t chase it away and we cannot pretend it doesn’t exist. To ignore it simply sets us up for failure. To try to overcome it in a wrestling match leads us to the same.

  • “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Galatians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

It is like we are in a constant tug-of-war with ourselves. One of the most sobering moments in a Christian’s life is when they realize that, after being a Christian for a long time, the old man within us has not improved one bit. Jesus understood this struggle within us and the disciples. In their weakness, as they fell asleep at the Garden while He was pouring His heart out to the Father, He awakens them and calls them to –


This is the same exhortation that Paul gives us in Romans 6-8. The word translated “watch” in the text from Matthew literally means to stay awake, to be vigilant, to be sober. This is what Paul calls us to do about our old sinful nature.

  • “…Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin…Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans‬ ‭6:6, 11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

To reckon is to take an account of. It is to watch over. One watches over their finances as one enters transactions into an account ledger. In the same way, one watches over their old sinful nature when they review the account of Christ’s death and our union with Him in this death. When Jesus Christ was crucified our old sinful nature was crucified with Him. We do not overcome our old man – we bury him!

Each morning we have to visit the grave of our old sinful nature and remind ourselves that we are now dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God in Christ Jesus. Our old sinful nature does not change. If it did there would have been no reason to crucify it. Some of the most carnal Christians I have met were those who believed they were totally sanctified as they lived by the impulses of their old man! The good news is the old man is dead!

The second exhortation Jesus gives us is – TO PRAY! To pray is to have communion with the Father. It is to enter into worship and fellowship with the very Creator of all things. We enter into the Holy of Holies, His very presence, through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we are invited to commune with Him. When my mind and heart are focused on the presence of God and His Word – the old man is kept at bay!

  • “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galatians‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
  • “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans‬ ‭8:1-2‬ ‭NKJV‬

I have found that I encounter the old man trying to dig his way out of the grave when I have neglected worship, prayer, and God’s Word. Just as my body grows weak when I do not have the proper nutrition, my spirit will grow weak if I do not watch and pray. All of the best intentions can be shipwrecked if I am not walking after the Spirit and drawing upon God’s grace.

In the dark days that we have before us, when the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few, when faith grows weak and love grows cold, we need to hear the words of Jesus calling to us –


Lord, this morning I give an account of my life. I am dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God through my Lord Jesus Christ. I choose to enter into the most Holy Place through the blood of Jesus Christ and commune with You. Pour out Your grace and mercy in this, my time of need. Lead me by Your Spirit and quicken me through Your Word.

In Jesus Name!

About Kirk's Devotional Journal

Kirk L. Zehnder is the Founder of Resurrection Christian Outreach. RCO is a ministry that promotes the growth and vitality of the local church through speaking engagements, seminars, various media tools, and written curriculum and books. This ministry was started over 35 years ago by Kirk as a means to strengthen the church that he was pastoring. It grew as Kirk began to share these tools with other churches. Today many of the materials are being used by local churches both nationally and internationally. Kirk's Devotional Journal is a result of struggling with Bible reading programs that never seemed to work. Kirk feels the Lord helped him discover an easy-to-follow program to Read, Reflect, Pray, and Journal through the Bible in one year. This program is called L.I.F.E. Unlike other programs there are no dates to follow. You can miss a day and still complete your reading. You never feel like the dates and verses you missed are chasing you. You are free to enjoy your daily Biblical journey and listen to the voice of The Lord. For more information on the L.I.F.E. plan, send an email to Kirk is also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats. With over 40 years of professional business and pastoral ministry experience, Kirk brings a unique combination of practical wisdom, humor, and Biblical insight. If you would like Kirk to speak at your church, school, or ministry, please send an email to and we will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your opportunity.
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