Sounds like a contradiction on its face doesn’t it? If we acknowledge God as truly being God, then we in turn attribute to God all that we have come to understand that God is. In other words; all powerful, omnipresent, all knowing, etc. So if we even attribute a portion of the attributes we associate with God, we would be a fool to go to war against God. The result would ultimately end in total defeat. We would have gained nothing and lost everything in that struggle.
But we so often do this exact thing in our day to day lives.
Romans 8:7 (CSB)
The mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it is unable to do so.
I just couldn’t help myself!
Till we are given a new body, the mind-set of the flesh we can’t avoid. It is always there battling against our desire to follow in the footsteps of Christ. Paul pointed to his personal battle with the flesh in Romans.
Romans 7:14-20 (CSB)
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold as a slave to sin. For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. Now if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me.
So we are bound to surrender to the flesh and have no control over it?
Galatians 5:24-25 (CSB)
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16-18 (CSB)
I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Obviously, this is something that we have the ability to do. At issue, is the fact that we either don’t or we find ourselves ‘giving’ power to the flesh, at times, putting us at odds with God’s will. How then do we walk in the Spirit?
John 15:4 (CSB)
Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me.
This is a personal decision to ‘remain’ in Christ Jesus. We are not slaves to the will of the flesh. There is evidence of when we do this that are visible to both yourself and those around you. This evidence is the ‘fruit’ you produce. If we are not in Christ, we simply will not produce fruit, because our source of nourishment will be cut off from us.
Colossians 1:9-12 (CSB)
For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, so that you may have great endurance and patience, joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you[b] to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light.
That source of knowledge? The Word of God!
Romans 10:17 (NKJV)
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
It’s clear the how to in walking in the Spirit. What are then these fruits? What is this evidence that we are walking in the Spirit; firmly attached to the vine?
Galatians 5:22-24 (CSB)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
A few of these I would like to focus on for sake of this discussion. All of these are evidence and important, but there is a subset that demonstrate the Spirit given power to remain in Christ Jesus. These would be:
Faithfulness – If we are walking in the Spirit then our ability to be faithful to the direction of God’s Word is going to be bolstered by the Spirit (after all it ‘is a fruit of the Spirit).
Self-Control – Here is the component that enables us to resist the flesh and consequent separation from the will of Jesus (in other words, separation from the ‘True Vine’).
All of the fruits are evidence of walking in the Spirit, but these are the ones that empower us to ‘remain in the Spirit’.
To summarize what we’ve walked through here in reverse order of where we came; Walking in the Spirit begins with our commitment to Jesus. Followed by absorbing direction through His Word. The result of this commitment with our investment in the Word and continued obedience to Christ will lead to the evidence of the Fruits of the Spirit.
What about the war?
I started this article out with the heading of “Declaring war against God”. So far, we’ve only skirted the core subject matter. This is because the subject is a subsequent result of not walking in the Spirit. This may sound a bit harsh but I assure you verse I opened with makes it abundantly clear. “The mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it is unable to do so.”
The war against the flesh that we battle with results in being hostile to God if we surrender to the flesh.
There simply isn’t any way around this. Surrender to the flesh places us at odds against our Lord and Savior. This doesn’t mean that God discards us because we fail to resist the flesh. Grace is abundant and sufficient to cover all. However, it should trouble you when we do cave in, that when we stop fighting against the flesh, we are in fact declaring war on God and His will for us.
These infractions to our Faith most commonly come into play when we seek to do something that the flesh desires to be satisfied. That’s not to say that consuming an ice cream sundae puts us in conflict with God, but if that sundae becomes something that stands between you and Jesus; we have a problem!
Be it a pastime, a person, a group, or a thing; if our priority to obtain or appease that desire supersedes our desire to follow Jesus we are in conflict. Enjoying good food or watching a sporting event are perfectly fine, as long as we remain attached to our spiritual source of nourishment; The True Vine, Jesus Christ.
Declare peace with God; walk in the Spirit.