Stumbling along a post from Feb. 2009, while I am not convinced Paul’s referrals to flesh and spirit always point to the battle in attempts to be our own personal savior, the flesh, against falling upon Grace and God’s goodwill to lead us in this life, the spirit, I am convinced this is a major battle we enter and a major theme of the New Testament for those who are in Christ. It’s good timing to run across this post again. I’ve been convinced more and more lately of this recently and have been trying to allow myself to be led and not lead.
For sure, when Paul speaks of the flesh, he is often referring to our unhealthy desire for the things of this world. He does use the terms in Galatians 3 exactly as Dr. Timothy Keller out of Redeemer Church in New York mentioned in my original post.
Gal 3:2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
Gal 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
“Paul’s flesh is warring against the Grace narrative,” as Dr. Keller put it. It is the flesh that drives him to be his own personal savior as opposed to relying completely on God’s Grace. This is the spirit/flesh battle we should be most attentive to, of this the Bible teaches and our churches should be speaking about every week. The solution is to repent. And by repent, I mean turn towards God. Turn towards God and ask for assistance, ask for wisdom, ask for courage, ask for patients. Keep your thoughts on God. We are to be perfected in the spirit, by the Holy Spirit.
Rom 3:19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God
Gal 4:21 Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law?
Gal 4:9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? (Side-note – An interesting look into how Paul’s writing speaks to how/when God sees us in Romans 8:29-30.)
Col 2:14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
2 Cor 3:7 But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was,
Gal 5:4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
Rom 8:13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Rom 13:10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Rom 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ
Heb 10:14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
Col 2:13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions
Gal 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. [Gal 5:1 NKJV] Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
Mat 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Rom 3:31 Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.
Rom 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.
Monkeying with Grace by trying to be Righteous by the Law
Rom 7:5 For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.
Rom 7:8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.
Rom 7:9 I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died;
We fall back into the trap of the Law’s original purpose, to bring us to God by showing us we are not worthy or able to be righteous on our own. Once trapped, we feel condemned, and then the trespass only increases.
Grace – The Let Go Life
Rom 8:26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;
Rom 8:27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Rom 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Maybe a good time to read about the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32 with an eye on the older brother, who was just as lost.