Friday, February 10, 2012

The Battle Between Flesh and Spirit

The Bible states that Christ-followers are in a serious battle between the flesh and the Spirit. The Holy Spirit pulls in one direction, while our natural flesh pulls in another. Which will we choose? Which will win out? What does it take for the Spirit to win?

Consider the following references to this battle between flesh and spirit:
Rom. 8:5-6,9 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace….You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Matt. 26:41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

Gal. 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

Gal. 5:16-17 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

Gal. 6:8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

Countless times throughout the day we come to a fork in the road of life: follow the Spirit or give in to the flesh. It can be as simple as the flesh telling us to lie, or it can more complicated as our flesh wanting to make a good impression so others will like us. In both cases our flesh tempts us to live for what seems natural versus following the Holy Spirit in what honors God. Flesh can be obviously bad, but it can also appear deceitfully good, as in the case of wanting to look “good” before others.

When we receive Christ we receive the forgiveness of sins, the impartation of the Holy Spirit, and a new nature. This means that we can have victory; we can choose Spirit over flesh; and we can have power to win the battle. Really? Yes. How? By really knowing who we are in Christ and all that Christ has given us in His Holy Spirit. By being in the Word so as to feed this Spirit who jealousy lives within our spirit. By saying “no” to the flesh and “yes” to the Spirit. By admitting our weakness and crying out for His supernatural power.
This battle between flesh and spirit is designed by God to make us stronger in Him. It causes us to see how much we need His power for victorious living.

Determine to not give in to your flesh. Determine to be filled with the Holy Spirit each and every day. Know that you are not in this battle alone. Get others around you who can help you win the battle.

The more we grow in Christ, the more we will desire to follow the Spirit over the flesh. However, the battle will never totally go away, and the flesh will never improve with time. What does get better with time is our knowledge of the Word, our experience of knowing God, and the abundance of tasting God’s blessings for obedience.

As challenging as it can be sometimes, it is definitely worth choosing the Spirit over the flesh!