We all long to be the we, we are supposed to be, why is it so hard?
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. Gal 5:16,17
In the church when we refer to the enemy, we all know who we are talking about. In fact I prefer to call the devil the enemy, mostly so I don’t have to say his name. He is indeed the enemy of our souls.
But there is another enemy of our souls, one that may be even more difficult to deal with and subjugate to the Spirit’s will and power. An enemy that can be manipulated and emboldened to fight against us by the devil but one which can also fight against us— and will— with no outside influence whatsoever. This is an enemy which lives with us, sleeps with us, is with us no matter where we go or how weary of its influence we may grow. And no, I am not talking about your husband or wife. I am talking about your own flesh.
As the old saying goes; “Wherever you go, there you are.” We can’t escape ourselves so we need to learn to live with ourselves. The good news is, God made you just the way he wanted you to be so we just need to be the we, we are supposed to be.
Many of you don’t necessarily want to be you. I get that, because of this constant war with our own flesh the you, you see is often the you, you hope no one else sees. This is starting to sound like a Dr. Seuss book I know— but you’re getting it aren’t you.
Our own flesh, the very core of who we are, or at least who we are apart from the influence of the Holy Spirit, is our worst enemy and the only way to bring it into line, to make it an ally instead of a stumbling block is to be led by the Spirit, that’s Spirit with a capital S, the Holy Spirit, which is now one with us as we are reborn, our dead spirits reborn by his.
If we are indeed being led by the Spirit, listening to, trusting and obeying the Spirit, the Spirit’s desires will become our desires and the flesh will have less and less influence on us. The flesh, our own selfish—“it’s all about me, how can I be fulfilled, how can I be comfortable, how can I be in control”— flesh, is at war with our souls.
Because the way it attempts to acquire the things it thinks it needs, usually ends up hurting us in the long run and prevents us from fulfilling our purpose.
God created you with—and for— a purpose, and it is only the Spirit that can lead you into the fulfillment of that purpose and that can bring the flesh into line with the will of God in our lives, so that we can be whole, body, mind and spirit.
I used mind in place of soul there to avoid confusion with spirit, the soul is the part of us that is our consciousness, what we consider to be our minds but that consciousness goes on whether it is housed in these bodies or not, it is eternal and in the end will either be with the Lord, which is life, or apart from God, which is death—hell. We must be complete in all three—body, soul and spirit—to have life, and we must strike the right balance between them to truly accomplish our purpose. That is what the war against our souls is all about.
It is that eternal destiny and realizing our purpose from God in this life, wholeness, which is our true joy and fulfillment.
That wholeness that can only come from walking in and with the Spirit, with the Lord, is not something we conjure up on our own it is something the Lord offers, something that we have to grab on to and hold on to tightly. It is indeed another aspect of the spiritual warfare we are engaged in. And like all aspects of that warfare the battle belongs to the Lord, we have to acknowledge the enemy, in this case, the sinful nature within us, and then look to the Lord for the victory just like we do in our battle with the powers of darkness. Those two enemies play off each other, the flesh and the devil, and both must be resisted.
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:6
Believers in Christ, living under the new covenant of grace are no longer condemned by the flesh. Now the struggle is remembering that, and learning to tap into the power of that grace in order to win the war our flesh still wages against us— the war within. If we understand that Jesus won that war for us and that we just need to learn to claim—and walk in— the victory, the battles will be a lot less intense and more and more infrequent.
As Believers the only weapon the enemy has left against us is shame, shame brought on by the lies that we are losing the war— well, we don’t have to win the war, it’s already won! That knowledge alone will make the battles winnable.
You are loved, you are free, you can be victorious!