Is There A Struggle of Flesh vs Spirit In A Believer?
Is living according to the “Flesh” and living according to the “Spirit” an option for a believer? Does a Christian vacillate in and out of the “Flesh” and the “Spirit?” Let’s look at what the Apostle Paul has to say about “Flesh” and “Spirit” in Rom 8: 1-14
The term “living according to the Flesh” and “Living according to the Spirit have been used a number of times in Romans 8.
The advocate of the Sinful Nature will use this passage of Scripture Rom 8: 1 -14 to point to the “Struggle between the Spirit and the Flesh.
vs 13 “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live”. To them, the believer still have to struggle to keep himself from “living according to the flesh”. Thus to “live according to the Spirit” the believer must submit himself to the Holy Spirit – putting to death the deeds of the body. This “struggle” with the flesh will cease only when the believer receives the glorified body from the Lord.
Is there really a “Struggle” between the Spirit and the Flesh in a Believers Life ?
Context, Context, Context ! We cannot interpret a verse by itself … this is the fundamental rule of interpreting Scriptures.
Paul in the previous chapters in Romans have established the fact that all man are sinners, both the Jews and the Gentiles. By their “Work” or by the “Law” they cannot save themselves. Paul also established the fact that all men are “Justified by Faith” through the Redemptive Work Of Christ On The Cross. What transpire when Jesus died on the Cross? …. We are “Justified”, we are “Redeemed”, we are “Sanctified”, we are “Made Righteous”, we are “In Christ”, “the old man was crucified with Christ”, Now “In Christ”, we are a New Creation, we are Sons & Daughters of the Living God, we are transferred from the kingdom of Darkness into the kingdom of Light, we are the Light of the world and we are the Salt of the earth.
Because of Who we are in Christ, How then should a Believer live his life on this earth?
Should a believer continue to live in sin that grace may abound? (Rom 6:1) Answer: “No” ! “Certainly Not”. “shall we who died to sin live any longer in it” (Rom 6:1)
A believer should “reckon himself dead to sin” . A dead man cannot respond to the stimulus of sin. The Adam nature is Crucified, Dead and Buried … Gone Forever. Finished.
A believer on the other hand should be “Alive to God”
A believer is now taking control of his own life instead of “sin” controlling his life. ” for sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace”. He should be presenting the members of his body “as instruments of righteousness to God” (Rom 6:13)
It is in this frame of mind that we should read Rom 8:1-14
As believers, we are told by the Apostle Paul to “live according to the Spirit and not according to the Flesh”.
vs 1 “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit”.
Do you see a “Struggle” between the Spirit and the Flesh in these verses? No! The Apostle Paul is just making a statement of truth. Believers “do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit”.
vs 2 “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death”.
In Christ, we live in the law of the Spirit of Life. We are “free” from the law of sin and death. This is a life of Freedom & Life and not a life of Bondage & Death.
vs 4 ” … who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit”. Paul again affirmed that a believer do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Then in Rom 6:5-13, The Apostle Paul differentiate those who live in the flesh and those who live in the Spirit. Those who live in the flesh are Non Believers but those who live according to the Spirit are Believers (In Christ)
Those who live in the “flesh” …
“set their minds on things of the flesh” (vs 5)
” carnally minded which result in death (vs 6)
“enmity against God” (vs 7)
“cannot please God” (vs 8)
” does not have the Spirit of Christ” (vs 9)
Paul again and again reminded the believers that they are not of the “Flesh” vs 9 ” But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit ..” Those in the Flesh are Non Believers
As Christians, we are not debtors to the flesh but to Christ. We are again told “not to live according to the flesh” which brings death; instead, the believer is to put to death the deeds of the body. ( vs 12,13 )
Is there really a “Struggle” between the Spirit & the Flesh?
As I read Romans 8 in its context, I don’t see any “Struggle”.
The Apostle Paul had very clearly wrote that as believers “we do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Walking in the flesh is not an option for the believer. A believer walks according to the Spirit.
Total victory over Satan and Sin is achieved at the Cross … the Redemptive Work of Christ.
It is never about Spirit vs Flesh in the believer’s Life.
To those who are still “Struggling” … examine what you have believed in the light of Scripture. Truths will set you Free !
Search the Scripture …
These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.