Spirit vs. Flesh
A man’s sinful flesh is the enemy of his own soul. In Adam, all die (1 Cor 15:22), and death results from sin (Rom 3:23; 6:23; Heb 9:27). The apostle Paul lamented that his flesh was in bondage to sin (Rom 7:14). The nature of human flesh is sin (Eph 2:3), from conception (Ps 51:5).
The flesh is weak from sin (Mk 14:38), it profits nothing (Jn 6:63). In fact, the mind set on the flesh is death (Rom 8:6). Paul wrote, “for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die (Rom 8:13).” Still, the desire of the flesh is sin. One sows to the flesh and reaps corruption (Gal 6:8). All are judged in the flesh (1 Pet 4:6), and in the flesh there dwells no good thing (Rom 7:18).
Jesus Christ came into the world and took on human flesh (Jn 1:14; 1 Jn 4:2), but He did not have a sin nature, inherited from the first man, Adam. He lived in the likeness of sinful man, and yet, He was without sin (Heb 4:15). He was put to death in the flesh (1 Pet 3:18), but He was made to be sin for us before He died (Heb 2:17). So, in His body of death, the sins of His people were judged and punished (Lev 5:17; Hos 9:9; Mt 1:21; 1 Pet 2:24).
The Spirit of God strives with the flesh of men (Gen 6:3). Holiness is in conflict with sin and sinners. Righteousness is in conflict with wickedness. Men walk according to the flesh (Rom 8:4), so they walk in futility and rebellion against God.
Although the carnal man is unwilling to reform himself because of his love for sin (Jn 3:19), God’s will is to reform some people He has chosen for salvation (Rom 11:5; 12:1–3). Although the carnal man is unable to change his disposition in the flesh (1 Cor 2:14), God is able to transfer an elect sinner from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Col 1:13).
The kingdom of God is in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17). It is spiritual (1 Cor 2:15–16). For one to be converted from the flesh, to being spiritual, she must be born again of the Spirit (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3). This spiritual transformation occurs when God gives the elect soul a new heart (Ezek 36:26). This new heart, circumcised by the Spirit, has the Spirit as its new indwelling life (Jn 6:63). The new life, where grace reigns, is spiritual (Rom 5:21).
He that is spiritual now desires the things of the Spirit of God, rather than the old things of the sinful flesh. Although this is a soul with an internal conflict between the Spirit and the flesh (Rom 7), the conflict remains until one’s body of death has ceased its animated life of sin.
The converted life is one that has been regenerated by the Spirit (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13). It is a spiritual life guided by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Jn 14:17; 16:13; Rom 8:9, 11), who causes the saint to walk in the statutes of God (Ezek 36:27). The Spirit manifests God’s desire for holiness in the saint.
Walking by the wisdom and power of the Spirit (Gal 5:16), the Christian flees immorality, resists the devil, and refrains from loving the things of the world. She sets her mind on the things above (Col 3:2), by having her conscience cleansed daily with the pure water, by the washing of the Word of God (Eph 5:26).
The quest for holiness (2 Cor 7:1) requires spiritual growth and maturity, from infant Christianity (1 Cor 3:1), to a mature faith in Christ Jesus (Eph 4:12; Heb 5:14; 6:1). Those who belong to Christ (Rom 8:9) are witnesses to the Spirit’s work of sanctification, and the putting to death the deeds of the body (Rom 8:13).
Although the battle between the Spirit and the flesh rages, the Spirit gives life and peace (Rom 8:6) and joy (Rom 14:17). These are the things of the Spirit (Rom 8:5), the spiritual gifts (Rom 12; 1 Cor 12; Eph 4), granted to God’s adopted children (Rom 8:15, 23; Eph 1:4–5), according to His measure.
Blessed is the man born of the Spirit (Jn 3:6), who enjoys the life of God in his soul (Jn 6:63). He has the requirement of the Law fulfilled in Him (Mt 5:17; Rom 8:4), along with all the other benefits attained by Christ’s life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement (Eph 1:3).
The spiritual man, baptized and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, knows the One who has begun the good work of salvation in him (Gal 3:3), and He knows who will perfect this work at the resurrection, on the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6). It is the Spirit of Christ in him that promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb 13:5).” This is true life in the Spirit, and it is new, abundant, and eternal.
Spokane Valley, Washington
January 13, 2022