A new Christian, that is an individual who has been born again, quickly recognizes the existence of a battle within. The conflict between the flesh and His redeemed self. The believer is now spiritually regenerated and endued with the Spirit of God but the flesh remains weak and corrupt.
Let us remember that the body is an organism in which the soul exists. It is decaying day by day and will return to dust. For some, a great emphasis is placed on the body. The appearance and health of the body is a multi-billion dollar industry in America and the foods, medicines and supplements that are available today is staggering.
Is it important to care for the body? Of course. With the body we serve God and our fellow man. But yet our bodies, our flesh, are a slave to sin without Christ. With that idea in mind, this is a recent conversation I had with a four year girl for whom I provided child care. We will call her Jane:
Me: I hear you’re having a birthday party this weekend.
Me: Tom and I will be there.
Jane: No! I don’t want you to come! You will eat all my cake!
Me: Well, what should I do with the presents?
Jane: You have presents for me?
Jane: Well, then you can come.
That’s the flesh speaking. The unrestrained flesh and mind of a child. We were all there at one time. Self absorbed, as if the entire universe revolved around us. This child needs to be taught self control and a caring awareness of others. Hopefully that will develop over time.
The apostle Paul recognized the war within and described it this way:
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! (Romans 7:22-24a)
Even though are souls are redeemed, having been purchased from the grips of the enemy and we have a new nature, the memories of our unregenerate humanness remain. Memories are stored in the mind and when the memories of our past life emerge, our flesh has a propensity to act and bring forth sin. The actions, the words, and emotions associated with our past unregenerate life become active and are quickly acted upon if not for the grace of God within.
Continuing on with Romans 7:24 – Who will deliver me from this body of death? Verse 25 – Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So there we have our rescue. Through Jesus Christ and the indwelling Spirit of God which provides the power to overcome our sinful tendencies. Not once and for all (that will come later) but with each temptation, God provides a way out from it. Jesus provided a perfect example of what it looks like to resist temptation.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to train ourselves to submit to the Spirit of God and His Holy Word. We are to pick up our cross daily and follow Him. A life committed to the Lord is by no means an easy life. It demands that we crucify the flesh and it’s lusts continually and when we fail, we have the promise of forgiveness when we repent. (1 John 1:9)
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who has called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16)
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:11-12)
The above instructions have always been of utmost importance in the lives of Christians. Outsiders are quick to point out hypocrisy in believers which can cause us to be disqualified as a witness to Christ. This importance carries on into our present day of turmoil and increased satanic activity. We must stand firm in our conviction of who we are in Christ if we are to make a difference in the world around us.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself untainted by the world. (James 1:27)
We were set free from the bondage of sin which once governed our lives and now we are free to serve the living God and what a joy it truly is!