The Flesh and The Spirit

Anonymous asked:

Thanks for the reply before! It really helped a lot. I have another question though (my question was the homosexual struggles one). I’ve been struggling a lot with feelings for one specific person, but how can I define victory in this sense? It never seems like victory to me; this person is constantly on my mind and it honestly seems like I’m losing. I try so hard to keep my eyes on God, but in the end, I can never shake off the desire to want to talk to the person. Thanks again!

I answered:

I think this is a situation that just about everyone has dealt with. Not necessarily same sex attraction, but being attracted to someone you know you shouldn’t be with. That could be an ex who treated you poorly, it could be someone who is in a relationship, it could be a non-Christian. It could be outside relationship and be as simple as wanting to have sex with someone you are not married to. We have all been there.

You are going to want wrong stuff. The Bible is very clear that that is the human condition. There is a sinful nature within you. Paul talks about that in Romans 7. That’s Paul, who had a personal encounter with the risen Christ, wrote most of the New Testament, the most prolific missionary in history, he said “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:14-15). You are always going to want wrong stuff, but Jesus gives you the power to not have to give in to it.

In the next chapter of Romans, Paul puts a name to this sinful nature that has its own desires: “the flesh”. Everybody deals with fleshly desires, but the Spirit lives with in us to rescue us from them. Romans 8:5 says “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Just because you have fleshly desires doesn’t mean they tell you what to do.

The world says “you have something you want, hook it up.” There needs to be no more thought about it beyond you wanting it. As someone who loves Jesus, there has to be more thought to it. He gets the final call on whether you should go for it. That won’t always be a “no”, but in the case we are discussing it clearly is. The same spirit that convicts you that it is wrong gives you the power to overcome it.

In the practical sense, that may mean disengaging. It almost certainly means not spending time alone with this person. Romantic feelings are like a fire, if you don’t give it fuel, it will eventually die down. Now, as a younger person, you have enough hormones coursing through your veins to take down a bull elephant, so it may not be super quick, but time is on your side.

There was a famous Roman general called Fabian who was tasked with defeating the greatest military genius in the world at the time, Hannibal. Fabian realized that Hannibal could only win the war by winning battles, Fabian didn’t have to. So he avoided direct confrontation and played for time. Eventually Hannibal’s army got hungry and tired, and his political support wavered. Fabian’s strategy worked.

You can do the same, you don’t have to stare this thing down and beat it. You just need to starve it out. Eventually this irresistible person will pick their nose and eat it, or reveal that they don’t like Harry Potter, or some other thing that will break the spell. 

Your fleshly desire’s existence does not mean you are failing. As long as you continue to let Jesus influence your actual decisions, instead of the flesh, you are victorious. And if you slip up, God’s grace is new every morning and you can try it again.

 

-Matt from The Bridge

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