Do you ever find yourself dispirited by your sins, experiencing feelings of guilt and shame while yearning for a new place free from temptation and desires of the flesh? Are you saddened by the realization that, even as a Christian, you continue to falter and succumb to worldly desires, only to discover that they leave you unfulfilled? Although such feelings can be unpleasant and uncomfortable, it’s important to view them as expressions of God’s mercy and grace.
In the depths of the human soul, a fierce and eternal conflict rages between the sacred and the profane. For the believer, at the very center of this unrelenting battle lie some of the fundamental principles of biblical Christianity: the unending pursuit of sanctification, the indomitable force of grace, and the unwavering assurance of our salvation. But how does one traverse the precarious landscape of temptation, the enticement of worldly desires, and the intrinsic fragility of our mortal existence? By drawing from the divinely-inspired wisdom of the Apostle Paul—who himself said he was the chiefest of sinners—and the transformative work of the Holy Spirit, the pathway to holiness and the triumphant victory that awaits those who unrelentingly combat the flesh is distinctly illuminated.
As devout Christians who adhere to the teachings of the Bible, we maintain that our salvation is an act of God’s grace, attained through faith in Jesus Christ alone. This salvation not only grants us forgiveness for our sins but also bestows upon us a renewed life in Christ. Nonetheless, we also acknowledge that we are not entirely liberated from the clutches of sin in this earthly life and that we are compelled to engage in an ongoing struggle against the flesh—the residual influence of our former sin nature.
The Apostle Paul’s writings offer profound and authoritative insights into the internal battle that rages between the cravings of the flesh and the yearnings of the Spirit. In his letter to the Romans, he delves into the intricacies of this struggle, recognizing the frailties of the flesh and the fortitude of the Spirit while providing encouragement for those endeavoring to live in accordance with God’s will.
Join Us and Get These Perks:
✅ No Ads in Articles
✅ Access to Comments and Discussions
✅ Community Chats
✅ Full Article and Podcast Archive
✅ The Joy of Supporting Our Work 😉
In Romans 7:15-25, Paul expresses the internal conflict he faces between his carnal desires and his pursuit of holiness. He writes, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15, ESV). Paul’s forthright confession emphasizes the intrinsic struggle between the two opposing forces present within all believers.
In Romans 8:5-8, Paul further expounds on the friction between the flesh and the Spirit: “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6, ESV). Here, Paul elucidates the significance of living in harmony with the Spirit, as doing so results in life and peace, while living according to the flesh leads to spiritual demise.
This ongoing battle against the flesh is a recurring theme throughout Scripture. The Christian journey is characterized by ongoing sanctification—a process of becoming increasingly Christ-like that persists until we are fully glorified in heaven. While this process does demand our personal effort, it is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit within us that even instills the desire to pursue holiness. We recognize that our carnal desires are deeply embedded in our flesh and that we cannot conquer them independently. We need the assistance of the Holy Spirit to withstand temptation and to triumph over sin. The Spirit empowers us to vanquish the deeds of the flesh and to live in obedience to God’s Word.
The battle against the flesh necessitates discipline and persistence. We must exercise self-control in our daily lives, striving to cultivate our relationship with God through prayer, studying His Word, and fellowship with fellow believers. We must also demonstrate perseverance in our quest for holiness, recognizing that as long as we bear the burdensome yoke of our flesh within these fragile vessels we call earthly bodies, this battle will persist until we are perfected in Christ.
Moreover, our continuous struggle against the flesh serves as evidence of our salvation. The simple fact that we even desire to engage in this struggle demonstrates an indwelling conviction by the Holy Spirit of our sin. If one feels no guilt or shame over their sin, and no desire to flee from it, then one has no reason to believe that they have truly been born again, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and given a new heart of flesh to replace their heart of stone.
We do not subscribe to the doctrine of perfectionism, which asserts that Christians can achieve total sanctification in this life. Instead, we acknowledge that we will grapple with sin until we are fully glorified in heaven. This does not imply, however, that we are condemned to a life of sin. On the contrary, we are called to strive for holiness and resist temptation. We are urged to cast off our old selves and embrace the new self, created in Christ Jesus.
The battle against the flesh is a fundamental theme in Christian theology as we understand that we are not entirely liberated from the power of sin in this life and that we must engage in a lifelong struggle against our carnal desires. We require the aid of the Holy Spirit to resist temptation and conquer sin, and we must also assume responsibility for our actions. Through discipline and perseverance, we can nurture our relationship with God and become increasingly Christ-like, knowing that our unceasing battle against sin serves as a testament to our salvation.
It is essential for Christians to recognize the ongoing battle within the human soul between the sacred and the secular, and to actively fight against the desires of the flesh. By embracing the wisdom of God in His word and relying on the transformative power of the Holy Spirit, we can find the strength to persevere in our pursuit of holiness. As we engage in this struggle, let us also take comfort in the knowledge that our continuous battle against sin is evidence of our salvation, and that through Christ, we will ultimately emerge victorious.