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THE CHRISTIAN'S BATTLE: THE FLESH
“Do not eat that cookie!” the mother said sternly as her young son eyed the freshly baked treats cooling in the kitchen. He glanced at his mother and back at the cookies. You could almost see the internal battle raging. He tucked his hands behind his back in momentary compliance, but as his mother left the room, a cookie disappeared and the battle was lost.
We might smile and even chuckle picturing such an anecdote, however, even as adults we fight such battles. Our flesh makes demands that we either fight or surrender to every day. Now, I’m not talking about basic needs like sleep or lunch, but the battles of right and wrong, to obey or disobey. As believers, we fight against “the world, the flesh, and the devil.” Last month, we looked at how we fight against the world system, and I’d like to think about how we ought to fight against the flesh this month.
Believers are told to walk in the spirit and not fulfill the desires of the flesh. Paul writes in Galatians 5:16, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” The word “walk” means we are to have a habitual way of life directed by the Holy Spirit. But this does not come naturally to us. Paul continues in verse 17, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh…so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Though our hearts have been transformed by the gospel, we are still in our sin-cursed bodies, and thus the battle ensues (Romans 7:13-8:1). We do what we don’t want to do, and don’t do what we should do! We can’t trust our minds or physical body to lead us because everything that God created was infected by sin when Adam and Eve disobeyed God.
How do we defend ourselves in this battle against self? Paul writes in Galatians 2:20 that the life we live in the flesh is by faith in Christ. Through our faith and obedience to Christ, we can conquer the desires of our flesh. Let me share three things that help me.
First, we must set our hearts and minds on the things of the Spirit. We read in Romans 8:5 “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” What are you setting your mind on? Second, on a practical side, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings” as Paul writes in Philippians 2:14. What are we doing when we murmur? We are complaining that things didn’t go our own way and our flesh was not fulfilled. Third, we should be daily reading Scripture and praying always. Christ said in Mark 14:38, “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.” Prayer aligns our hearts with God’s will and helps us as we fight temptation.
Dear Christian friend, as you walk through life, be lead by the Spirit so that the old nature doesn’t cause you to sin against God. Though the battle rages now, we have the ultimate victory. One day God will take care of this flesh: “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (1Corinthians 15:53-54). Oh what victory that will be! Salvation will be complete, and we will be saved from the presence of sin. Fight the battle today, friend, with the hope of Glory in mind!
Hal S. Pope
IFM Executive Director
“...he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” 2 Corinthians 9:6
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