July 29, 2007
1 Corinthians 9:27
The war between the flesh and the spirit is described pretty well in Galatians 5. It explains the conflict experienced by the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. What with the joys of salvation made real through the gospel and received by faith, many believers are not a little disappointed to realize this battle raging within. It is a struggle not expected – a problem not anticipated based on the background of unbelief. It is not that God has not made provision for this battle and for our victory, but that His remedy of our reckoning ourselves to be “dead unto the flesh” and “alive in the spirit” is not usually recognized as the only way to victory, at least not at first.
Having mentioned the spirit, the reader has perhaps noticed the lack of capitalization. It is not with the Holy Spirit, the third person of the trinity, that the flesh does battle. This conflict is between the two natures of the child of God – the flesh (the old nature) and the spirit (the new nature)! Of course the Holy Spirit helps the believer who can claim the victory when yielded to the Spirit’s guidance, for “the spirit helps our infirmities... and makes intercession for us...” (Rom. 8:26-27). Just as the Spirit Itself bears witness with our spirit...,” He also helps in this conflict – and our victory day by day.
Israel of old fought a strange foe – Amalek. Although Israel won that first battle the tide of the battle mattered more whether or not Moses’ hands were uplifted in intercession than how well the warriors fought in the battle field. And, “the Lord swore that He would have war with Amalek from generation to generation” (Exod. 17:16). It seems this relentless foe was never exterminated and that each generation of God’s people would have their problems with Amalek. How similar was Israel’s conflict with Amalek like the believer’s war today – the flesh with the spirit. Unlike Israel’s mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ never tires nor do His hands ever hang down causing our defeat. The victory is ours for the claiming!
Ivan L. Burgener