Romans 7:21 (NIV) "So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
1861-1865 has been described as the most horrific war ever fought on American soil. More than 600,000 men gave their lives during this war. Differences between the North and the South regarding the prohibition of slavery was the seed for this conflict. The devastation that took place during the Civil War produced an outcome of freedom for black people. Freedom from slavery, freedom to raise their own families and freedom to establish their worth beyond a piece of property.
Typically the most difficult battles for Christians are the battles that rage within. The key verse from Romans 7 shows that we experience our own "civil war" every day as our flesh wages war against God's Spirit within us. The battle between the flesh and the Spirit takes place on the soil of our soul. It can be the most brutal of all battles. Our flesh enslaves us to sin and death, but the Spirit frees us to obey God and live. Our only hope for victory is in Christ.
Romans 8:11 teaches that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead also gives life to our mortal bodies. We are empowered to overcome because Christ overcame death. Embracing the power available to us by the Holy Spirit enables us to defeat the cravings of our flesh.
First John 2:15-17 addresses three different ways we struggle against the flesh. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life are examples of internal skirmishes that can wreak havoc in our walk with Christ.
The civil wars that present themselves in my life revolve around my desires to be an honorable wife, good mother, faithful friend, and an influential minister to women. These are all worthy aspirations. However noble they are, I recognize it is important to keep these aspects of my life in proper perspective and not idolize them. Idolizing them can derail me from walking according to the Spirit.
If I feed my fleshly tendencies, then my motivation is based solely on my own selfish desire to be recognized. If my motivation is for others to recognize me then my flesh wins. My flesh screams, "Look at me", but the Spirit implores, "Look at Him". When I resist my flesh and choose to please God, then my motivation is selfless and seeks to reflect His glory.
The challenge to surrender to the Spirit and give up our flesh occurs daily. We continually face the temptation to satisfy the world and our own evil cravings. Our choice to submit to the Spirit is necessary in order to live Christ-centered lives. This doesn't mean we won't make mistakes. However, our desire to please Him should outweigh our desire to please ourselves as we strive to defeat this civil war within.
Ask the Lord to identify key areas you wrestle with in your flesh? (pride, materialism, false identity, impatience, perfectionism etc.) Find specific Scripture related to these weaknesses. Write them on index cards and memorize them.
Commit to this each day this week. Witness and experience the fruit of faithful surrender. Praise God for His help and strength to overcome.
What battle is presently raging within you? What other steps do you need to take to bring freedom from this struggle? (remove self from temptation etc.)
Why is it vital that we not give in to the flesh? How do you avoid giving in to the flesh? What blessings have you experienced as a result?
How much of yourself are you surrendering in order to experience freedom in Christ?
Heart Changing Word:
Romans 8:2 (NIV) "Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death."
Romans 8:9-10 "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness."
Romans 8:11 "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you."
1 John 2:15-17 "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever."
Copyright 2011 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.