The battle between the flesh and the Spirit is the most difficult war anyone can fight. Even the Apostle Paul had to battle the flesh. In Romans 7, Paul wrote in verses 18-21 that in the flesh dwells no good thing. The good he would do, he finds he can’t do. That is because of the sin that is in his flesh. So if the flesh could hinder Paul from doing what the Spirit wanted him to do, don’t feel that you’re a failure as a Christian.
Romans 8:9-17 states that the flesh battles with the Spirit. But if we have the Spirit in us, he will lead us to do what is right. If Christ is in control of your life, he will kill the flesh. But if you give into your fleshly desires, the Spirit is hindered. Those that are led by the Spirit are children of God. We are adopted into the family of God and can’t be disinherited.
Often we think we know best because we think the situations we are in would be better handled by us. We in essense tell God that we know more than he does which is ridiculous. Romans 14:23 states that whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
Here’s an example of faith versus the flesh: By faith, Abraham offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God. If he had relied on the flesh, do you think he would have willingly offered his only son as a sacrifice? Sure there was Ishmael. But he and his mother were long gone from the camp. Abraham had enough faith in God to believe that even if his son was slain, God would somehow raise him up since God said that through Isaac, his seed would continue, as stated in Genesis 21:12.
There are many examples of the flesh versus faith and the flesh being victorious. Samson obeyed his fleshly desires and eventually paid with his life. He’s always been pictured as a man with rippling muscles. But if that had been the case, do you think Delilah in Judges 16 would have asked him where his strength came from?
I believe Samson may have looked like the proverbial 98 pound weakling. Some call it mind over matter. I would call it the Spirit over the body. Judges 14:6 states that the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him and we able to tear a lion apart with his bear hands as if the beast were a goat kid.
There were some spiritual problems though. He was a Nazarite from before birth. According to the vow, if he touched a dead body, he was supposed to shave his hair off and offer a sacrifice before starting all over with his Nazarite vow. When he removed the honey from the lion in Judges 14:9, he violated the vow since the honey came from the dead lion.
God still used him afterwards. He was a judge of the Jews for 20 years. But because he gave into the flesh and violated his Nazarite vow, he died in the collapse of the building where the worshippers of Dagon met to celebrate deliverance from Samson. God punished Samson and allowed him to be the sacrifice for his sin. More people died in the collapse than what Samson had killed during his lifetime.
It is often hard to live by faith when the flesh is so easy to obey. I’ve heard so many stories about people having faith in God when the flesh told them it was useless. History would have been changed dramatically if everyone relied on the flesh and not on faith.
Even non-Christian events relied on faith over the will of the flesh. Our Revolution was an act of faith by the Founding Fathers that independence from England was preferable to continual domination by the King. We weren’t supposed to be able to defeat the greatest military force in the world. But God allowed us to be victorious.
On June 6, 1944, the weather over the English Channel was poor. General Patton had people pray for the success of the invasion and that God would make the weather cooperate with us. The flesh would have told him that it would be better to wait another month when the summer weather would be better for the crossing. But he and General Eisenhower had faith that the invasion would be successful. The rest is, as they say, history.
Hebrews chapter 11 is called the hall of faith. Many examples of people living by faith are given. The first verse states that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. I have witnessed the truth of this verse often. And don’t consider faith blind faith. If the Bible assures us of something which we can receive through faith, believe what the Bible says.
Relying on God by faith is much easier if it’s a common practice. The more you live by faith and not the flesh, the more you will want to live by faith. Once that happens, the Christian life will be a pleasure even if it means struggling. Trust in God and everything will end up as it should.