“For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please (Galatians 5:17, NAS).”
Self-discipline is a huge part of spiritual warfare. We have been given authority over demons, absolutely, but too often we focus more on that than learning to simply discipline our bodies so as to “make them a slave” as did the Apostle Paul (I Corinthians 9:27). After all, the first place one should take authority is over their own temple.
Time and time again we read that self-control is an attribute of the fruit of the Spirit. Just because we’re tired, angry, sad, mad, stressed, or whatever, does not give us license to sin. In fact, it’s in these tricky situations that God is actually at hand. He allows us to be tested so as to reveal to us our remaining ungodliness – not for condemnation, but for further refinement. God is not punishing us, He is perfecting us.
First, we need to correct an untruth. Many say, “Followers of Christ have two natures.” This is false. God’s people have one nature – God’s – Holy Spirit. Though we (the spirit) temporarily dwell in a compartment made of flesh, its nature does not belong to us. It’s like living in your house; you are not the house, you merely dwell there temporarily. If the house is old and creaky, that does not me you have to be. You must upkeep the earthen temple in which you dwell, but it isn’t who you are. It’s our downfall when we think, “Well, that’s just who and how I am. I can’t help it when I act this or that way.” Likewise, if it’s our downfall, it’s equally the downfall of the Kingdom of God because we represent the King and His Kingdom.
Secondly, emotionalism will always dictate “do whatever makes you feel better.” Truth will dictate the polar opposite. When I walk with God, I choose self-control when otherwise I want to use profanities, lash out at someone, or anything of the like. When I give in to emotionalism and conduct myself in a fleshly (evil) manner, I cease walking with God. Everyone’s trigger point is different and we need to be aware of what they are and purpose to surrender them to Christ.
It’s simply being pro-active by knowing who we are in Christ and allowing Christ to overrule the flesh in everything. No one has perfected this, I certainly haven’t, but we need to purpose to strive toward the mark of Christ choosing to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ always and in everything. When we falter, repent, receive forgiveness and begin again. His mercies are new every day!
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin (Romans 7:14-25, NAS).”
Stay tuned for next week’s part II! If you’re interested in reading more, please go to my website and check out my books or my ministry Facebook page.
Peace and blessings,
Alexys V. Wolf