Monday: The Christian’s Conflict

“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Gal. 5:17; see also Rom. 7:14–24). How have you, in your own life as a believer, experienced the harsh and painful reality of these words? 1

The struggle that Paul describes is not the struggle of every human being; it refers specifically to the inward tug-of-war that exists in the Christian. Because humans are born in harmony with the desires of the flesh (Rom. 8:7), it is only when we are born anew by the Spirit that a real spiritual conflict begins to emerge (John 3:6). This does not mean that non-Christians never experience moral conflict; they certainly do. But even that conflict is ultimately a result of the Spirit. The struggle of the Christian, however, takes on a new dimension, because the believer possesses two natures that are at war with each other, the flesh and the Spirit.

Throughout history, Christians have longed for relief from this struggle. Some have sought to end the conflict by withdrawing from society, while others have claimed that the sinful nature can be eradicated by some divine act of grace. Both attempts are misguided. Though by the Spirit’s power we certainly can subdue the desires of the flesh, the conflict will continue in various ways until we receive a new body at the Second Coming. Fleeing from society does not help, because no matter where we go, we take the struggle with us, and we will until death or the Second Coming.

When Paul writes in Romans 7 about the inward conflict in Christians as preventing them from doing what they want, he is underscoring the full extent of that conflict. Because we possess two natures, we are literally on both sides of the battle at once. The spiritual part of us desires what is spiritual and detests the flesh. The fleshly part of us, however, longs for the things of the flesh and opposes what is spiritual. Because the converted mind is too weak to resist the flesh by itself, the only hope we have of subduing the flesh is by making a daily decision to side with the Spirit against our sinful selves. This is why Paul is so insistent that we choose to walk in the Spirit.

From your own experience of the battle between these two natures, what advice would you give to a Christian who is trying to come to terms with this never-ending struggle with self?



Monday: The Christian’s Conflict — 6 Comments

  1. Question, when does the Christian's conflict end? Do we take the struggle with us until death or the Second Coming?
    I was taught that when we are sealed the old man is dead forever and that the sealing, the latter rain and the loud cry comes before the time of Jacobs trouble and Christ second coming but here is this statement in this week lesson that says otherwise. or maybe i misunderstand..
    ...."we take the struggle with us, and we will until death or the Second Coming."

    • Dexter, I believe that you have understood the lesson correctly and that it is right on this point. Although the time will come when God's people are sealed, and therefore shall never sin again, I believe that we shall be the last to know or feel it. What is the "time of Jacob's trouble?" Does it not commence AFTER the close of probation? And yet it is characterized by the most intense anguish over whether we might fail in the time of trial and bring dishonour to God's name. Hence the extreme fervency of our prayers ascending for divine grace to keep us in that hour.

      God bless!

  2. I can see in this lesson several questions that will arise which will demand a definition of two terms, "sin" and "walk in the spirit."

  3. Did you ever consider the difference between 'trying' and between 'deciding?'

    Think about it: If you make up your mind "that you're gonna try to quit a bad habit." How long will it take before you find yourself being to tired to try that one time, and thus to "make an exception?"

    On the other hand: If you make up your mind, once and for all, by actually making for yourself a final and a binding decision. Well, where is the struggle? Your mind is already made up! Every single time! No struggle! No sweat! No breaking down! Ever!

    Do you perceive how that the Christian's conflict finds its end in that one simple saving principle of God?

    Thus, for every new decision, you win!, you gain new ground!, while standing firm upon the land of past victories!

    Don't 'miss the point!' Don't 'miss the mark!' Don't 'sin!'

    See how easy that is once you know the true definitions of those key words?!

  4. The struggle will always be there because of sin, even when we die we await either eternal condemnation or eternal life so the struggle continues between flesh and spirit. It only ends at the second coming because then our bodies will become immortal and no longer flesh


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