24. Victory in the Conflict Between the Spirit and the Flesh
Posted by The Typist
By John Thiel, mp3
The practical experience of the everlasting gospel is an apprenticeship that is a life-time work of sanctification. God varies His training in our apprenticeship according to His permissive and perfect will. We sometimes want things our own way in the sanctification experience so God lets us have our way until we come to the point where we are really suffering and then He says, this is the way I want you to go. As we are living under the three angels’ messages and so close to the end, we need more information so we can hasten our learning experience. To hasten our submission to God’s perfect will instead of His permissive will is required as there is not much time left. We need to understand something about ourselves – our dual nature that we have. Through the plan of salvation we have a dual nature and conflict between our two natures – the spirit and the flesh. Jesus addresses our condition at birth:
John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
We have two natures. When we are born, we are born of the flesh.
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. 6 For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
To be carnally minded is death. To be spiritually minded is life and peace. They that are in the flesh cannot please God. The flesh has a condition that is not in harmony with God.
1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.
That which is born naturally of the flesh is impossible for that flesh to be in harmony with God. As we’ve studied the godhead and the facilities that God has established through the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the work of grace does something to us;
2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And [that] he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we [him] no more. 17 Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
The love of Christ has an impact upon us in which although we are in the flesh, and we know our flesh and we even know that Jesus came in the flesh, but now we know no man after the flesh when the love of Christ has struck us. If we are in Christ, if we absorb the facility of the son of God and the Holy Spirit then we are a new creature, a new birth, a new creation. That new creature is described;
Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Can you see the new creature? All things are new? When in the experience of submission to the death of Jesus Christ, we rise as Jesus rose from the dead into newness of life. The old man is crucified, there is a new man. This is the transaction we have been justified by.
Ephesians 4:21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Here is the new man. Where is the new man? Because we have heard with our mind, because we have received and learned of Christ. If you have heard of him, taught of him as the truth as is in Jesus, the impact of that truth on our mind has altered it. We are renewed in the spirit of our mind. The old man, the old mind has been replaced by a new mind and you put on a new man. Where was that? In the spirit of your mind. This is the statement of Jesus that we must be born again.
John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
We must be born of the spirit. In the spirit of our mind. With that new man, the new mind, we can prove the perfect will of God. We have identified that the perfect will of God needs to be followed, not the permissive will. How can we follow the perfect will of God? Only if we understand the new mind in its relation to the body.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
When the mind is renewed, it is through that we can prove the will of God. We need to follow the perfect will of God but it can’t be done unless we exercise the new mind. The new mind, new man is renewed and not conformed to the world.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
The new mind being renewed, not conformed to the world it is a sound mind. Previously it was an unsound mind, the mind of the flesh.
1 Corinthians 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
Through the work of the holy spirit we receive a new mind by what we have heard. It is a mind that is identified as the mind of Christ.
Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
By appreciating and understanding this reality that we have gained that mind, what does this new mind need to understand? Form babyhood to manhood it is a mind that develops and becomes like an adult mind but first starts as a baby mind. What does a baby mind have to learn about itself? About the human body in which it is in.
Ephesians 2:1 And you [hath he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins: 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
When we were still unconverted, what did we follow? We followed the desires of the flesh and of the mind in corruption and sin. Now that we have a new mind, what is left? There are two factors. We followed the desires of: the mind and the flesh. Can you see two items? There is the mind and the flesh. When the mind is transformed, what about the flesh?
Romans 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
When our mind was fleshy, it worked in our body parts. Apostle Paul is identifying there are two kinds of desires, the desires of the mind and the flesh. If the mind carnal it does the desires of the flesh. It comforts the flesh by doing what the flesh wants. When you have the mind of Christ do the motions of our sins in the flesh cease? Here is a person who has a spiritual mind that is of God. The carnal mind is not subject to the law of God and neither indeed can be.
Romans 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
His mind delights in the law of God. It’s not the carnal mind as it doesn’t delight. The sound mind is in harmony and loves the law of God. Can you see the difference between the mind which loves the law and the motions of sin in the members, the desires of the flesh? He addresses a law that is warring against the law of his mind. Is there a function between the mind and the flesh that my physical flesh has motion that can move without the mind?
Galatians 5:16 [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
There is a battle, a conflict between the mind, the spirit of God in us and the desires of the flesh. One lusts against the other.
Every Christian will be assailed by the allurements of the world, the clamors of the carnal nature, and the direct temptations of Satan. No one is safe. 5T 102
What are we assailed by besides the allurements of the world and Satan? We are assailed by the clamours of the carnal nature and the desires of the flesh. Carnal fleshy nature. Although we have a new mind, there is a carnal nature, the motions of sin in our members. Paul said he has a mind that loves the law of god but there is a law in my members that wars with his mind.
The Christian will feel the promptings of sin, for the flesh lusteth against the Spirit; but the Spirit striveth against the flesh, keeping up a constant warfare. SL 92
There is a constant warfare. It clamours for attention. A Christian will feel this. As he feels this, there is a constant warfare between his mind and body. If we do not understand this principle in the process of sanctification, we will never understand that we must not appeal to Gods permissive will. The understanding that we have observed is essential to prevent us from appealing to the permissive will. The permissive will is that which God lets us do because our flesh wants it. We are not to become confused with the mind of Christ in me and the internal messages of the mind and the flesh that happens inside. We need to understand what happens when sin is moving within me. The clamours of the carnal nature and the promptings come when my mind doesn’t want it.
James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
Here is what this is all about in this understanding of the battle of the spirit and the flesh we are dealing with temptation. When the flesh comes to the mind and says I want, that is the lust enticing. How does the clamoring of the flesh come to us?
There are thoughts and feelings suggested and aroused by Satan that annoy even the best of men. 2 MCP 432
Here is the sound mind, the best of minds that becomes annoyed by thoughts and feelings. Satan comes to our members and gives them a prod through the senses. Through the senses the members of the body have motions of sin by thoughts and feelings or electrical currents and hormones. Hormones come as a feeling. Thoughts come as an electrical current. These are the messages that we need to discern. The message of the brain, the sound mind that says I love the law, it is previous, that is the thoughts that come from the sound mind but there are thoughts and feelings called motions that we have to discern and make decisions. Feelings and thoughts come to the sound mind and it becomes perplexed and annoyed. It is not happy. What are we to do? Is the sound mind to succumb? What are we to do when assailed by these?
The Christian will feel the promptings of sin, for the flesh lusteth against the Spirit; but the Spirit striveth against the flesh, keeping up a constant warfare. Here is where Christ’s help is needed. Human weakness becomes united to divine strength, and faith exclaims, Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. SL 92-93
1 Corinthians 15:56 The sting of death [is] sin; and the strength of sin [is] the law. 57 But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
How does this victory happen? Through Jesus Christ. Jesus says I am the way, I’ve got the method. Here is where the help comes from. Can we remember how it happens through Jesus Christ? We have studied Jesus became a human and became our ransom and conquered the battle. Here is a brief look at the facility offered us in this exercise. The help we get through Jesus;
Hebrews 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
Jesus is the one through whom we learn the lesson of this battle. He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. He suffered his sound mind to be assailed by the promptings of sinful flesh. He had the same sinful flesh as mine. He was tempted in all points like we are. Even the best of men are troubled. This is how He learned obedience. What did he do? How does he teach us?
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
You can faint in your mind if you don’t look at what Jesus went through. As you look at what he endured with sin in his flesh, as he was affected by these terrible motions and had to deal with them, we see the answer to our problem;
Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
This is the answer.
There are thoughts and feelings suggested and aroused by Satan that annoy even the best of men; but if they are not cherished, if they are repulsed as hateful, the soul is not contaminated with guilt, and no other is defiled by their influence. Oh, that we each might become a savor of life unto life to those around us! 2 MCP 432
Jesus Himself, while He dwelt among men, was often in prayer. Our Saviour identified Himself with our needs and weakness, in that He became a suppliant, a petitioner, seeking from His Father fresh supplies of strength, that He might come forth braced for duty and trial. He is our example in all things. He is a brother in our infirmities, in all points tempted like as we are; but as the sinless one His nature recoiled from evil. SC 93
Jesus prayed to his father as the motions of sin in the members came and clamored for attention. We gain the victory by learning from him in the battle between the spirit and the flesh. He is our example. His mind was sinless that it loved the law but it recoiled from the thoughts and feelings.
1 Corinthians 9:26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 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.
What did he do? I fight, I’m in warfare. I’m struggling. I’m engaged in warfare between the spirit and the flesh. I keep under my body the motions of sin in the flesh. They come to me and I repress and destroy them. I bring them into subjection. He recoils from the motions that come up, the sinful reactions that he was troubled and tormented by.
2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
What do you do with your imaginations through Jesus Christ? Cast them down as your mind begins to imagine all sorts of things. Everything that exalts itself against God in the brain bring it into captivity. The thoughts and feelings are cast down so they cannot function. That is the battle between the spirit and the flesh.
Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
What must we do? Mortify. Mortal injury, death, kill. Kill the thought, mortify the feeling. As the feeling comes up it likes to be cosseted. Condemn sin in the flesh. This is the answer in the battle between the spirit and the flesh.
Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are
The members of our body do not function anymore according to the motions of sin even though they want to. Do not yield to that. We are alive from the dead. I have a new mind. I’ve been raised from the dead with Jesus. With the new mind I yield myself to God. Mortify the old motions of the flesh that they used to do. An example is someone who has smoked and he doesn’t have to think, he just grabs the packet of cigarettes that used to be in the pocket. That is a natural reaction. Instead of including our habits, we kill the motion within me. God gives us strength to deal with it as we pray how Jesus prayed. It is the apprenticeship of learning this principle. Whatever it is that I’m battling with.
We can only do this as Jesus did it with strong crying and tears.
Luke 9:23 And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Every day we take up the exercise of Jesus condemning sin in the flesh.
1 Corinthians 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
Repulse and recoil from those thoughts and feelings. The first angel’s message is teaching us this trade as apprentices. Jesus is looking for the day when his students are all standing there having learnt the trade.
Revelation 14:7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
Give him the glory. It was Lucifer who said you will never get a people on this earth who will obey you and be perfect, it’s impossible. That was the judgment by Lucifer on God. Now we have a privilege of giving him the glory by entering into an apprenticeship with him. By taking hold of all the facilities he has given us. Take hold of the word and conquer together with Jesus. In the battle between the spirit and the flesh we will have the victory. May this be our decision as we appreciate the first angel’s message.