Flesh vs Spirit
Inside of us all a constant battle rages, a war between the flesh and the spirit.
My flesh wins more times than I’d like to admit. My rebel soul rears its ugly head and my internal fist wants to shake in God’s face. I question the Holy Spirit like a spoiled child, knowing all too well the stirrings in my heart are truth. Internal conflict can be a good thing, it strengthens our faith muscle. Just as you’d practice a hundred free throws before a game, God wants us to show Him our trust. I relate with Paul all too well when he writes,
“And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.” (Romans 7:18-25, The Message Version)
We can all let out a sigh of relief and praise Paul for his honesty and vulnerability. Recognizing our inherent sinful nature, even when we want to do the right thing, is the first step toward conquering the battle.
When I offer myself grace and reconcile the sin that stirs in my soul, I open the door to do the same for other people. Condemnation doesn’t have to live in your heart, as Paul says, “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:25, MSG)
The biggest obstacle we face in the battle of flesh versus spirit is fear. Fear of the unknown; what if God doesn’t deliver on his promise, what if I put everything into this faith thing and it doesn’t pan out. Nine times out of ten, your life will indeed be different than the picture in your head.
In Matthew 6:26 we’re reminded how God provides the every need for birds, so how much more will he provide for us, his children. Acting out of fear can set a trajectory of bad decisions resulting in consequences, which could have been avoided if we trusted God in the first place.
“But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers—never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8, The Message)
Trusting God is a daily lesson, little by little, allowing him to root us deep in his love. Deep roots hold firm when winds blow, storms rage and temptations arise.
We are conquerors because of the price Jesus paid for us. We have freedom from condemnation and freedom from the distorted beliefs of the world. We must be extremely cognizant of the intake we consume daily to win the battle of our flesh. The most important tool is the Bible, being in the Word arms you not only for battle, but victory over the battle.
Another tool that is imperative is an accountability partner, a brother or sister in Christ whom you trust. Someone you can confess to, who will listen and also correct in love. I would not be where I am in my walk with Christ if I didn’t have someone else encouraging me to keep fighting when I all wanted to do was throw in the towel.
God is not surprised by the darkness within. It can be quite overwhelming to concede to a love as powerful as His. Talk to him, journal your prayers, scream at the top of your lungs if you need to, because he accepts you just as you are.
Being a follower of Christ was never promised to us as easy, however, it is the most satisfying decision you’ll make. Dying to self, picking up your cross and choosing Jesus daily is an ongoing battle against free will to satisfy self. There are levels to our faith walk, in order to get to the next level we must show God how trustworthy we are, instead of solely focusing on if God himself is trustworthy.
This is my prayer for us today, Psalm 16:5-6 (Passion Translation):
Lord, I have chosen you alone as my inheritance.
You are my prize, my pleasure, and my portion.
I leave my destiny and its timing in your hands.
Your pleasant path leads me to pleasant places.
I’m overwhelmed by the privileges
that come with following you,
for you have given me the best!
Scripture taken from The Message Version. Copyright. 2003 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC. Used by permission. All rights reserved.