One Step At A Time Christian Growth Series - Step 10 - Flesh vs Spirit
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
(Galatians 5:16)

Have you ever wondered why you are not as good a Christian as you know you ought to be? Have you ever been deeply disappointed with something you have done since you have been saved? “I can’t believe I said or did that.” Others have faced the same dilemma. When D.L. Moody was asked what his greatest problem was, he replied, “The man I see in the mirror each morning.”

THE CHANGE AT SALVATION

When you were saved, the old sinful nature you had did not die. It is still there. The Bible calls it the flesh, old man, and the carnal (worldly) mind. When you were saved, your spirit became alive and functional. An unsaved man walks after the flesh-his spirit is dead. (Ephesians 2:1) A Christian has both the fleshly and the spiritual natures. That is where your battle comes in. Notice all the scriptures that mention these two natures inside of you:

Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Romans 7:14-25, “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”

Romans 8:5-7, “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”

Romans 13:14, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”

Galatians 5:17-19, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,”

Galatians 6:8, “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

AN OLD TESTAMENT ANALOGY

In Galatians 4, the account is repeated of how Abraham had two sons-one by his wife Sarah and one by the handmaid Hagar. The son born to Hagar was named Ishmael and was born first. He represents the flesh born in sin and bondage. Isaac was the second son (13 years later) who represents the Spirit.

ABRAHAM
/ \
HAGAR     SARA
(BONDAGE)     (FREE)
|              |
ISHMAEL     ISAAC
(FLESH)      (SPIRIT)
|             |
BORN       BORN
1st        2nd

Ishmael mocked and ridiculed Isaac until Ishmael and Hagar were forced to leave. The flesh has been in you longer than the Spirit and is often stronger. Ishmael was 13 when Isaac was born and obviously was the stronger of the two.

How old is your flesh? How old is your Spirit? Do you see why there is a battle? The flesh does not want to give up control. In John, Chapter 3, Jesus emphasized to Nicodemus the importance of being born again. When there are two leaders in one house, there will be trouble.

The flesh says, “I was here first!” The Spirit says, “But the control is rightfully mine!”

CHARACTERISTICS

FLESH
(Old Man, Natural Man)

SPIRIT
(New Man)
*Does works of the FLESH
*Has fruit of the SPIRIT
*Does what comes natural
*Does what Jesus would do!

Flesh

Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

An unsaved person can sin and enjoy it. A saved man is miserable after he sins. He has a new man living inside—a new nature that wants to please God.

You can wash and perfume a pig and he will walk right back into the hog pen to wallow in the mud. You can throw a sheep into the mud and he will quickly get out. Their natures are different. The spiritual nature and the fleshly nature are opposites. A lost man can enjoy sin and not want to stop, while a saved man is miserable when in sin.

A CHRISTIAN’S DUTY

Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”

A Christian cannot do the works of the flesh and have the fruit of the Spirit at the same time. We are commanded to fight the flesh so victory can be in our lives.

1 Peter 2:11, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;”

Heart
Mind
Will

 
FLESH ->
SOUL
<- SPIRIT

The fight is over the soul (emotions, thoughts, decisions.) The flesh and Spirit both want to control the soul. The one who controls the soul controls the body.

WHEN IS THE FIGHT THE HARDEST?

The flesh fights hardest when there is a decision to make. A decision to get saved, be faithful in church, tithe, win souls, get right with God, etc.

THREE CHRISTIAN SITUATIONS:

SPIRIT-Flesh
Spirit-Flesh
Spirit-FLESH
Victorious
Christian
Compromising
Christian
Backslidden
Christian
When the Spirit is
stronger than the flesh.
Some victories
& some defeats.
No victories.
It is evident to everyone this person is saved.
The spirit & flesh are about the same strength. This beleiver confuses the lost. He is wishy washy, unstable, & inconsistant.
The flesh is stronger than the spirit. No one can tell this believer is saved.

WARNING: THE GRADUAL VICTORY OF THE FLESH

There is a downward progression a Christian can make if he is not careful. The flesh is subtle and deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9).

Step 1

Doing spiritual activities in the energy of the Spirit. (Yielded to the Holy Spirit and begging God to use you.)

Step 2

Doing spiritual activities in the energy of the flesh. (Slacking off and coasting in the walk with God-depending on talent.)

Step 3

Doing fleshly activities. (Evil you never imagined you would do.)

Often you will hear, “Did you hear of so-and-so falling into sin?” No one ever sees any one “fall into sin.” You only see them when they land. They have been falling for a long time. Are you totally yielding all of your activities to God? “I can get by. I’ve taught that Sunday School lesson before. I don’t need to pray or study it.” That is the energy of the flesh. It’s one step away from wicked sin. Are you as dependent upon God as you once were?

WHEN IS THE FLESH THE STRONGEST?

Late at night

Proverbs 7:9, “In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:” Be careful about being out late in the evening. Your resistance is lower.

When Hungry

The devil tempted Jesus’ flesh after 40 days of fasting. Tempers flare and unkind words can be said when hungry. Do battle with the flesh. Remember, Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of pottage.

When out of Schedule

2 Samuel, Chapter 11, gives the account of David committing adultery when he was suppose to be in battle. Keep your guard up during vacation, holidays, and summertime.

When Tired

1 Kings, Chapter 19, gives the account of Elijah resigning the ministry because he was weary. Do not make major decisions when tired.

HOW TO WIN BATTLES OVER THE FLESH

Do Battle Daily

Paul said “I die daily.” Begin each day declaring war on the flesh!

Use only Spiritual Weapons

“The weapons of our warfare are not carnal” says the Scriptures. Exercise your spiritual senses. Bury yourself with spiritual activities: prayer, Bible, soulwinning, giving, fasting, helping needy people, visiting hospitals, working around the church, writing encouraging letters, teaching Sunday School, driving a church bus, etc. In health clubs they say “No Pain—No Strain—No Gain!” Exercise your spiritual senses. You must be in shape to defeat the flesh. The more you fight, the quicker you grow!

Bathe Yourself in Scripture

That is where your strength will be. A missionary was speaking to an Indian who had become a Christian. The Indian told how he was having a battle in his heart like having a white and black bulldog fighting. “Who wins?” asked the missionary. “The one I feed the most,” replied the Indian. Feed your spirit with Scripture.

WHEN WILL THE FIGHT END?

1 Corinthians 15:51, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,”

God has a glorified body that will never sin for all Christians.

WHAT A DAY THAT WILL BE!

Sources:
Sermons by D.L. Moody;

Scripture verses are from the King James Holy Bible.
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