Freedom # 24: Progress in Tension
The natural, unconverted man is at home in this world of sin. He thoroughly enjoys living in sin to please himself with no sense of guilt. He knows nothing at all about a struggle with his sinful flesh nature.
On the other hand, the Christian loves God and desires to please Him. A true Christian cannot enjoy sin. His guilty conscience makes him miserable and takes all the fun out of sin. A Christian is constantly living in tension with his sinful flesh nature. It never improves with age. Too many mature Christians have come crashing down because they underestimated the power of their sinful flesh nature. Though we Christians are in a constant process of sanctification, our fleshly nature will never be sanctified in this life. It will always be rotten to the core. We won’t be perfectly sinless until we have our new glorified bodies in Heaven.
Don’t confuse your body with your sinful flesh nature. There is nothing wrong with your body. It is fearfully and wonderfully made. Our bodies don’t cause us to sin; rather our sinful flesh nature takes control of our bodies and we sin.
In Romans 7 the great Apostle Paul describes the struggle of a Christian to do right, while at the same time being continually tempted to do wrong. As you read verses 14 through 25 it sounds as though you are listening to a crazy man who is almost beside himself in his struggles with right and wrong. This is the cry of a godly giant of a man.
He likens the sinful fleshly nature to a decaying corpse chained to his body. He cries out, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Then he concludes, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with my regenerated mind, I myself serve the Law of God, but with my flesh nature, the law of sin.” Or to put it another way, whenever self reigns I sin, but whenever Jesus reigns I live victoriously over sin.
Paul is teaching us here in Galatians 5:16-17 that we Christians live in constant tension between walking under the control of the Holy Spirit and giving in to the lusts of the flesh.
Whereas Old Testament saints struggled and often failed to live under God’s external code of Laws, we under the New Covenant discover that God’s Law is fulfilled internally in us by the indwelling Holy Spirit, according to Romans 8:1-4.
The Holy Spirit living within us convicts us and restrains us from doing wrong. If there is anything we don’t need it is legalism forced on us. The more legalism attempts to control us externally, the less room the Holy Spirit has to control us internally.
Let me caution you that living under the freedom of the Holy Spirit does not give us an excuse to indulge our fleshly passions. Listen to the axiom again in Galatians 5:16 “Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.”
Attempting to live the Christian life by rules and regulations is plain old stinking Phariseeism.
Walking under the control of the Holy Spirit leads to freedom. (Galatians 5:1) holiness, (Galatians 5:16) and fruitfulness (Galatians 5:22)
Christians often blame Satan for their failures. Normally, Satan pays little attention to us because our more subtle enemy is our flesh nature. While some preachers are talking tough to the devil and commanding him in the name of the Lord, they are being distracted from their more dangerous enemy, the subtle flesh nature.
Romans 7:18 teaches us that there is nothing good about our flesh nature. Never trust it. Never put yourself in a situation where the flesh nature has an opportunity to express itself. Let us stay surrendered daily to the control of the Holy Spirit and He will give us His victory.
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