Flesh vs Spirit
Galatians 5:15, 17 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”
Often I hear the complaint, “I hate the war against the Spirit. If only I could stay in the Spirit.” These complaints lead to a common teaching in the Church, one that attempts to encourage us to “fight the good fight” and to “look forward to heaven, where this battle no longer takes place” . . . a heaven, I presume, where there is no choice. (It sounds as though we will all mindlessly be singing praises to the Lamb, and not because we choose to. Of course, choice seems to be a curse in the minds of many, and they would relish the thought of ridding themselves of that troublesome capacity.) Well, I would like to go on record that I do not hate the battle between the flesh and the Spirit. There are certain topics that definitely need to be settled. Is God attempting to oversee chaos, or is God the God of order? If He is overseeing chaos, then there is a great battle between good and evil, and Satan (in the minds of many) has equal power, we are caught in the middle, and we must somehow muster up the spiritual, emotional, and physical to side with God and win this great battle. Wow! Honestly, this thinking, which is not hard to find, is one of the enemy’s greatest coups. It can be subtle, but we hear it in e-mails that plead that believers all over the world pray for protection, healing, and blessing and pray against the advance of the enemy, disease, and poverty. Actually, if you are a believer and no one prays for your cancer, do you believe that your chances of being heard personally by Him or enlisting His activity in your life are lessened? Do you believe that if no one prays for your unbelieving mate, and yet you in your belief pray, God does not hear you? Do you believe that when you pray in your loneliness and isolation for your daughter, who is living with someone who definitely does not appear to be good for her in any way, that God does not hear you? There is one mediator between man and God, and it is that man Jesus. We need a paradigm shift. God is in charge! Satan is not! Disease is not! Man is not! Financial markets are not! Doctors are not! Ship captains are not! Your pastor is not! Your employer is not! Your children are not! God is in charge. Period. Well, you get the point. Prayer is a participation in what God is doing, and we must get over the notion of an arm-twisting fight against a defeated foe. Honestly, from Genesis to Revelation, God is in charge. Yet, with the wrong glasses, which seem to be handed out in many Christian religious circles like 3D glasses at the movies, it looks like God is attempting to win, Satan is gaining, and we are the determining factor. Our flesh is not in charge! Our flesh is not the problem, period! The flesh is permitted by God as the means of pushing, even driving us into the life of the Spirit. It might sound odd, but I like my flesh; I like what it does for me. If I do not like the expression of my flesh, then I must simply allow it to accomplish the goal God intended of driving me to the Spirit. Sometime today I will get angry, so what will be my response? “Oh, my rotten flesh! If only the flesh did not make me angry!” Or this: “Oh, my flesh always acts the same way, and now it is reminding me that I began this day somehow believing that it could live just fine without an active submission to the Lord. Who do I think I am? Jesus was God among man and yet said that of Himself He could do nothing. Jesus, You are welcome here; come and be my joy and peace today. Thank You, Jesus, for giving me a body of flesh that reminds me that life can be Life on this earth.” What glasses are we wearing? Better yet, what eye surgery have we been given? Heaven held some hellishness when angels, who are not even created in the image of God, decided they were gods in and of themselves. What kind of world would this become if no one had flesh? More specifically, what kind of person would you be without flesh? You would be a monster living in the midst of monsters. My flesh has been an ugly mirror that has made me take my assessments, my treatment of others, and my disdain down a notch, or rather, three, four, five, and one hundred notches. A man was bemoaning what his former alcoholism had done to his family. I looked him straight in the face and delivered this word, “You are an ass! If you had not become an alcoholic, the flesh–your pride, arrogance, drive, and self-righteousness–would have done a thousand times more damage to your family than the alcohol.” There was no argument in his eyes; the flesh had humbled him. We all need humbling, and the flesh is sent by God to do it. The world idolizes men who are a 1% success at playing God, but then the facts of their flesh become known: they were thieves, drug addicts, perverts, adulterers, self-centered, and all of this is attempted to be hidden through threats, courts, and disclaimers. The fact is that the flesh is bringing them down to the level of admitting their need for Jesus in order to live just one day, something humanists do not want to acknowledge. There is a famous man whose picture appears in nearly every Christian home on a particular continent, though he is an atheist and has participated in murder; in short, he has flesh, and yet any mention of that fact is avoided and met with shock. The “positive” side of his flesh is attested to as something to be idolized and worthy of attainment. Those that hate the flesh will look for the good in the flesh. The most unrighteous will become the most self-righteous. Those who despise the negative will attempt to obtain the positive. However, when someone sees God, he gets off the rollercoaster and understands that the flesh is not there to be hated or loved; it is there to drive man to Life. In hating or loving it, a person will become a monster, nothing short of a distortion. I saw a woman who was obsessed with the “Barbie doll” and had all the plastic surgery to become an exact replica; she had become a monster. I saw another man who had obsessed on the art of Salvador Dali; in the end, he became a monster. It is all relative, but flesh, good or bad, will make anyone a distortion, a monster. I have seen men on the platform at Christian conventions that were monsters. The flesh, if not seen as something that drives us to Him to allow Him to be for us what the flesh can never be, will distort us. I do not hate my flesh, I do not love my flesh, but I see it as a marvelous tool in the hand of God, who is in total control and has my very best interests nestled in the deepest part of His heart.