September 8, 2016

The battle for my mind

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” (2 Corinthians 10:3–6)

These verses are about the Christian war against anything that resists obedience to Christ, including our thoughts. This battle may not be constant, but it is certainly very real.

Chambers’ devotional reading for today puzzled me. He claims that Christian’s spiritual warfare “is not against sin” because Jesus deals with sin in redemption, but it is a “conflict is along the line of turning our natural life into a spiritual life . . . done only by a series of moral choices.”

Yet Scripture says our battle is with Satan’s lies — which are intended to entice my desires and lure me into sin. The sin is in desires that go against the will of God and they are common to human beings.

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14–15)

The Bible refers to the natural person as one who does not know God or spiritual realities. This natural person is a sinner. It also refers to the human nature of a Christian using the term “flesh.” While God gives us a new nature in Christ, this ‘flesh; is the source of our struggles. My Greek dictionary says: flesh is the “aspect of human nature which is characterized by or reflects typical human reasoning and desires in contrast with those aspects of human thought and behavior which relate to God and the spiritual life.”

This means I have a human nature that goes against God and a redeemed human nature that does not. One is sinful, the other is of God and needs the Holy Spirit to function.

I’m not sure how Chambers defines ‘the flesh’ but I do know that “in my flesh dwells no good thing” and that I cannot change my natural human nature into a spiritual entity. This is what God does in redemption and it isn’t about me making moral choices.

Now that I am redeemed, that “flesh” or old nature battles my new nature in Christ. To come out on the right side of that war, I need to power of God to fill me with His Spirit and give me the ability to walk with Him in the Spirit as He says in these verses:

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” (Galatians 5:16–17)

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:12–13)

Certainly sin is forgiven and cleansed by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, yet we are left with that old nature until we die. We are told to put it off, not yield to it, and resist the enemy who tells us lies in his efforts to produce sin from it. As Chambers says, these battles are moral but apart from the Holy Spirit’s power and grace, I will not make ‘moral choices’ but will go down every time. It is God’s weapons for spiritual battles that make victory possible.

Submission to God is important toward victory. God says I must yield to Him and resist the devil. When I do that, the devil flees (James 4:7). He has no power over a person who is submitted to the Lord.

Not only that, worship defeats that old liar. I cannot sin when the Spirit fills me with awe and wonder at the person and power of God.

I was puzzled at Chambers saying our “conflict is along the line of turning our natural life into a spiritual life” because this makes no sense. If the natural life is not sinful, why does it need to be changed? Jesus lived a perfect natural life, but He did not sin. The rest of us do sin and that makes us susceptible to the attacks of our enemy. He knows how to get at us, and if he cannot make our actions outright sinful, he will lure us into doing ‘good’ things for sinful reasons.

Again, to win every battle, I need the power of God, not only to make the right choices, but to recognize that I am even fighting those battles.

No comments: