THE WAR WITHIN
By GV Potter
The following post was written by a member of our fellowship.
Read these words that Paul uses to expose the weakness of our flesh, and to prepare us for God’s provision to live a Godly life: “For the good that I will do, I do not do. But the evil I will not to do, that I practice” (Rom. 7:19). At first glimpse this sounds like a lot of double talk. But make no mistake about it—this is the war raging within Christians everywhere!
What Paul is describing here is the difference between living in the flesh as opposed to living by God’s Spirit. He’s referring to the fact that without Christ and apart from God’s Spirit, there was nothing good in him. Paul is not suggesting that sin is some sort of excuse for wrong doing; he’s warning us against trying to live a godly life on our own accord. When we do this we are setting ourselves up for failure. Remember, Paul had lived a “been there, done that” sinful life, and after his conversion he lived a victorious Christian life. Christ lived through him in every way imaginable, and that is why he could say, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).
We are all born with a propensity toward certain sinful behaviors that show up in our lives. Any of us might find ourselves struggling with some of these issues. These are not genetic issues…they’re spiritual ones! It’s not about science; it’s about sin. It’s not because we inherited a gene for it, but because we inherited Adam’s fallen nature the day we were conceived! David said, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Psa. 51:5). Solomon said there are no exceptions: “For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin” (Eccl. 7:20).
In Romans 7:14, Paul speaks of the law God gave Moses, stating “…that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.” Romans 6:14 makes it clear that “Sin shall have no dominion over you, for you are not under law but under Grace.” The law alone cannot save you from sin, but it can do one thing well—it can expose sin to you and drive you back to Christ. Your Christian character is not produced by self-effort, but by the Holy Spirit that is within you. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).
2 Corinthians 5:27 tells us that as Christians we have been given another nature: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit—you must be born again,” (John 3:6-7). We now have within us a conflict of two natures (Romans 7:18): that sin nature which did not profit us at our birth and the new nature that did. These two natures are at odds with each other, similar to the cartoon depicting a person with an angel sitting on one shoulder and the devil on the other, each one advising which direction to take. We get to choose which one to obey! Those choices determine what fruit we bear. The parable of the fruit trees in Matthew 7:17-20 is a good example, which concludes that “By their fruits you will know them.”
No matter how long you walk with God, your carnal nature may never improve, even over time. That’s why you have to “crucify” it daily (Gal.5:24). Remember, Satan never takes a day off or a time out. You’re constantly in his crosshairs, so you must protect yourself with God’s Word, prayer and obedience. Recognize sin before you come to it. The Bible says, “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us,” (Heb. 12:1). Why? Because the area of your greatest weakness is the one in which you’ll be constantly attacked. Learn to keep your spiritual tank full. This is accomplished by the hearing, reading, studying and being obedient to God’s Word. Then, when you need to make a withdrawal (and you will), there will be more than enough to draw from.
Romans 8:6 states, “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” You must be mindful of what this warning means. When God gave you a new nature, He also gave you power through His Holy Spirit to overcome the old nature. Don’t let sin control the way you live; rather, always walk in God’s strength and not your own. God’s power coupled with your decision to obey His Word and keep fighting will always lead to a clear and lasting victory. Amen.
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