THE SPIRIT VERSUS THE FLESH – THE BATTLE WITHIN* (by Janine Mick Wills)
Many people enjoy a good fight scene. Hollywood has made billions from action-packed movies. But there is a real battle going on. One that we cannot win without the power of God and the Holy Spirit. It is the power of the flesh versus the power of the Spirit.
Spiritual living consists of making right choices according to God’s Word. Fleshly living is the complete opposite and consists of following the Devil and serving the idols of this world.
Here’s a brief and not all-inclusive model of “The Spirit Versus the Flesh”.
|THE FLESH||THE SPIRIT|
|False Gospel – Works||True Gospel – Faith, blood of Christ|
|Hate, bitterness, revenge||Love, forgiveness|
|Lust – Fornication||Purity – One flesh in marriage|
|Dissatisfaction – Love of money||Contentment – Peace|
|Love of self||Servanthood – Love of others|
|Sensual Music||Uplifting music – Melody, balance|
|Temporal High – Drugs, alcohol||Joy of the Lord – Praise|
Christians have fought the flesh since the beginning of time (Genesis 3). Satan continues to reach Christians by appealing to the lust of flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-17). A believer, who serves the flesh, may have as many problems as the natural man (Galatians 6:8 Ga 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption).
The Bible talks about the world as being the world of men (John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life), the world of sin (1 John 2:14, 15 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him), and the world of creation (Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse). The Devil uses the world to appeal to tempt both the saved and unsaved person.
The flesh is contrasted with the Holy Spirit, Who comes into a person the moment she is saved (Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption). The Spirit-indwelt life results in a new nature or new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new).
God has given all men a conscience to determine right and wrong. (Romans 2:14, 15 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another). However, his sensitivity to his conscience depends on early training and a habitually and consistent response to his conscience. The conscience can be seared, defiled, and rendered useless by sin (1 Timothy 4:2 …having their conscience seared with a hot iron).
The Christian’s conscience, if led by the Spirit of God, can keep the world from having an undue influence and the flesh from sinning. A Christian should strive to have “a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men” (Acts 24:16).
THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE
God did not create man as a puppet. Man is first given a choice whether or not he will accept God’s free gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God). Man can either live for the flesh, in opposition to the Spirit, or live for God, under the control of the Spirit (Romans 6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness).
A life lived for God is one that takes discipline of the mind and body (1 Corinthians 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof).
The choice is ours, and our alone to make. But let’s follow in the steps of Joshua when he said, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).
*Information taken from Walter and Trudy Fremont, Effective Christian Counselor (Bob Jones University Press, SC, 1991).