The Tug of War – Flesh vs. Spirit (131)

tug of war - flesh vs spirit - romans 8:5
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Flesh vs. spirit. It’s a constant tug-of-war going within you. Your old yet-to-be-redeemed flesh pulls one direction. Your already-redeemed-waiting-for-a-new-body spirit pulls the opposite. This is the Christian life.

Flesh vs. Spirit

In Romans 5:5-13, Paul sets the record straight explaining how the unredeemed are unable and incapable of submitting to the “law of God.” The reason? Because even if they do act in morally their heart remains “in the flesh.” Your flesh and your spirit (i.e. mind) – meaning the way you think and what you focus attention on – are either in-tune or they are out of tune.

Either you’re unredeemed, meaning your spirit and body (i.e. flesh) are both corrupted by sin. Or, you’re redeemed, in which case your spirit is new but your body/flesh remains sinful. In the first case, the issue is not your obedience – although you can’t be obedient perfectly – but the condition of your heart (Romans 2:29). The issue here is, the heart of the unredeemed is hostile toward God. Even if outwardly obedient, inwardly the motivation is altogether wrong. Flesh vs. spirit in this case…both in-tune with each other, necessarily so.

On the other hand, in the case of the redeemed, your heart is already changed and the goal is to discipline your flesh to follow. Flesh vs. spirit in this case…out-of-tune but striving to bring flesh under spirit’s discipline. See the difference? For the lost, they cannot submit to God’s law (Romans 8:7). However, that does not mean they cannot submit to God’s gospel! And that is a key point discussed on the podcast.

All About Mindset

Paul points out that the unsaved cannot set their mind – their thinking and worldview – on the things of God. Specifically His law and submission to it. The reason is due to their heart condition. The saved, however, can set their thinking and worldview in-line with God’s law. Please note: can does mean ought…but does not mean will. We are able and we certainly should. But by Paul’s own personal admission (Romans 7:14-25), we will not always be successful.

Think in terms of the parable of the two sons (Matthew 21:28-32). Was it the one who determined to go and did not or the one who said he would not but did who was blessed? The issue is always the condition of the heart. Just look around at what is happening in our country today. It’s a heart issue. And the only One capable of changing hearts is Christ Jesus our Lord.


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