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. [galatians 5:17]
in Christ, God’s children have been made holy. set apart for a new and special purpose,
to glorify him as he sanctifies us, conforming us to the image of his Son, and preparing us for the eternal weight of glory yet to come. our guilt covered by the blood of the lamb, our soul sealed and indwelt by his Spirit, we are his kingdom of priests, declaring his excellencies to the world and calling them to life in him.
it sounds so glorious! we gather together and proclaim this truth with excitement and passion and strong resolve to live out our purpose! but then situations rise, activities overwhelm, relationships fall, the pain of life sets in, and we fail. and the disconnect is our flesh.
with our flesh and the Spirit within us at odds, we are in a daily battle with our sin. the desires of the flesh are comfort, approval, control, power, and the many ways that these flesh themselves out. the desires of the Spirit who lives within us are comfort in Christ, the approval of the Father (which we already have in Christ), trusting in his control, and his power shining through our weakness, and the many ways that these flesh themselves out. we have all experienced countless frustrations with ourselves for giving in to the desires of our flesh. even paul cries out for deliverance from the wretched old self that battles for control over him. (rom 7:24) he describes this battle as suffering.
the Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. for I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us [rom 8:16-18]
in other words, this battle against our flesh is going to be so. worth. it. Christ suffered in the flesh, battling with his own temptations against his fleshly desires. and so why would we think that our battle would be any less? this process of sanctification is preparing us for eternity, so we endure the fight with patience.
but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. for in this hope we were saved. now hope that is seen is not hope. for who hopes for what he sees? but if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. [rom 8:23-24]
in our frustration at our fleshly desires and our disappointment when we give in to them, we have a few options. we can despair, and return to our desires, having given up the fight because we feel it is too difficult. we can resolve to try harder, tell ourselves we are better than that, and strive for victory in our own strength. or we can fly to the cross where our Savior fought and won the ultimate battle against the flesh. he is our captain in this battle, and we need only look to him for our victory!
therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. in your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. [heb 12:1-4]
Jesus fought perfectly the battle against sin in the flesh. he never sinned. he resisted temptation his whole life, even to the point of death. his perfect life and his perfect death are our only hope for victory. in Christ, we can walk in step with the Spirit. in Christ, we are made holy. in Christ, we press on in the battle against our flesh, looking forward to an eternity of joy inexpressible in the glorious presence of our glorious God!
~ arwen eastman