Rom 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. (ESV)
My flesh is weak. My spirit is strong. My flesh believes a lie that “God is against me.” My flesh is trapped in judgement by lists. My flesh was corrupted when it took in the poison of the knowledge of good and evil. My flesh looks at the lists and sees plainly that my performance will never merit God’s approval. When I add law to the flesh, my mind is perplexed by the paradox of a divinely perfect list and my inability to perform. I am stuck in a constant churn of knowing what to do but not able to do it. On top of that there is no knowledge of the goodness of God in my flesh (last post). My flesh is ignorant to “God is for me.” All the while my flesh is keeping a list of my wrongs. The enemy is reminding me of my wrongs. I am just like Adam hiding in the bushes. My life, my purpose, my future looks hopeless. But wait…Praise God for Jesus!
Rom 7:11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. (ESV)
In my flesh I believe the fight I am in is about flesh and blood. I believe that I can and must change my circumstance. I believe that I must and can change my behavior. I believe I must and can actually find some super willpower to succeed. Religion tells me I should have the power to succeed. The law is a perfect list of impossible standards. I am sucked into the deception that “I just need to try harder.” Or maybe I just don’t try at all. This is the power of the enemy over my flesh. This is Romans Ch 7. This is the my life without the Spirit. This is my life living in law. This is my life that is no life at all. But wait…Praise God for Jesus!
Rom 7:23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (ESV)
This cacophony of confusion and deception is exactly what the devil was after. The enemy wants our flesh to control us. This is bad news since our flesh has us convinced that God is against us. Our humanity, our made-in-His-image nature, is clawing and fighting to get free of the lie. This is the natural state of a fallen Adam. This the cesspool of condemnation. This is why the God-formed Adam hid in the bushes. This is why God set us out of the garden. To continue in this state of continuous condemnation for all of eternity would be Hell. God in His immeasurable mercy put a barrier between Adam and the tree of life. Instead of seeing the mercy of God, the flesh is convinced that God is against us. The flesh says “the evidence is clear.” But wait…Praise God for Jesus!
Rom 7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (ESV)
God’s perfect plan is this:
Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (ESV)
Here is the best part. If you are born again of water and Spirit you are walking according to the Spirit. You may forget and believe in what the flesh says but:
Rom 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (ESV)
This is why it is so important to receive the charisma gift of the Spirit. We need the goodness of God dwelling in us. The flesh doesn’t know God is for us but the Spirit reminds us that God is for us. The Holy Spirit reminds us of Jesus on the cross. The Spirit is the resurrected Jesus in us. We have confidence because the Spirit of God has been poured out in us. His conviction is not condemnation but encouragement. Check this out:
John 16:8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (ESV)
Even the Holy Spirit convicts me that God is for me when my flesh says God is against me (sin of unbelief). He convicts me of my righteousness when my flesh says I suck (theological term). He convicts in regard to judgement by reminding me that the devil lost when my flesh says the devil is winning (circumstance).
The conflict of flesh and Spirit is not an issue of “will” and “behavior.” It is overcoming the fall of man. It is learning to agree with what God has said. It is learning to agree that God is for us. Even more than that…God is in us and with us. Stop believing that God is against you in any way. Stop it now! God is for you. The world is lying. Religion is lying. Your flesh is lying (actually it is just stupid and easily deceived). God is for us! Believe it. That is what is means to walk in the Spirit. Ask Him into your life. Then you will find peace. No more flesh lies but filled with the Spirit of Truth.