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Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Spirit or Flesh


For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

—Romans 7:18-20



We all know the predicament Paul declares in these verses. This is the frustration of knowing the right thing to do, but due to the weakness of our flesh and the weakness of our mental determination, we discover ourselves doing the very thing we didn’t want to do. 


In the next few verses, Paul speaks of the “law of his mind” (his flesh) warring against the “law in his members” (his body).  No wonder Paul cried out, “O wretched man that I am!”When the flesh and body are our only two choices to overcome, we will certainly do what we don’t want to do. We can "will" ourselves to do all the good we want, but our will won’t sustain the good we long to do.


Look at these verses again in Romans 7:18-20.  Paul declares that his will to do the right thing ends in self-condemnation. When we try to do the right thing fortified with just our willpower, we will fail.  The mind may be at war with the flesh but is also a part of it. Flesh cannot defeat flesh. And our fleshly efforts profit us nothing. The frustrations of frequent weaknesses and failures only end in self-condemnation


How do we overcome this? Who will deliver us from this body of flesh? Paul is ready to give us the answer. It follows quickly in Romans 8:1.


“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”


Paul declares that there is no condemnation to those who walk according to the Spirit. When walking according to the Spirit, we are walking in the Spirit. If we walk in the flesh, we will experience self-condemnation and guilt. But if we walk in the Spirit, we are equipped with God’s power, which is far more powerful than our willpower and mental determination. The Spirit of God allows us to live in the length, height, depth, and breadth of the grace of God, where we don’t struggle to conquer sin on our own, but, instead, rely on God’s provision to live in the Spirit. 



We give power to sin in our lives when we choose to come against it with our own willpower. When we learn to live from the Spirit of God instead of our flesh, sin is overcome. And what is the outcome? There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus when we walk according to the Spirit. We aren’t consumed with guilt and shame for our sins. Jesus shed His blood for our forgiveness. And when we believe there is no condemnation in Him, we know we are forgiven by the blood of Jesus.

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