In our present existence, authentic spirituality does not involve the absence of our fleshly weakness, but the overcoming of it.
"A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first" (Matthew 21:28-31).
Salvation births our spirits through union with the Spirit of the Lord Jesus. Growth in His grace and truth matures and strengthens this "new man, created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24). In His wisdom, however, God allows our earthly members and faculties to remain, including a "law of sin" that inhabits them (Romans 7:23). The potential for temptation thus remains so near to us that it must be overcome within our very being. As with the faithful son referenced in our Lord's parable, obedience involved initial response and desire to the contrary. His feelings and thoughts said "No". Something deeper in him, however, changed his mind, resulting in a faithful "Yes".
The "something deeper" in born again believers involves Someone working in us "both to will and to do of God's good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). First thoughts, feelings, inclinations, and even physical sensations notwithstanding, the Holy Spirit moves within us to illuminate the fact that we are being tempted, and then reminds us of the indwelling power of Christ to overcome. "If ye, through the Spirit, do overcome the deeds of the body, ye shall live" (Romans 8:13). Our Lord is present in the temptation, as is our flesh, and "greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world" (I John 4:4).
Regardless of how long or how faithfully we walk with the Lord in this present life, our flesh and its proclivities will remain. This is why the Apostle Paul, writing in the future tense of the Greek language of the New Testament, rhetorically pleaded, "Who shall deliver me from the body of the this death?" (Romans 7:24). Thankfully the answer came, "We ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body… we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (Romans 8:23; I Corinthians 15:51-53). Yes, "we shall be changed," and "this corruptible must put on incorruption."
But not yet. The flesh remains, not to be presently eradicated or glorified, but to be overcome through the power of the Spirit and our confidence that He works in us to make His desire our deepest desire. "I delight in the law of God after the inward man" (Romans 7:22). Accordingly, our initial reactions and responses may flow in a direction contrary to our Father's will. This can quickly result in sin if we do not remember and affirm the greater truth of the Spirit of Christ dwelling with and within us to overcome. He transforms initial "No's" to the will of God into "Yes" as we trust and submit ourselves to Him. This is godliness in our present existence, as triumphantly revealed not by the eradication of challenge, but by triumph over it.
"In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
"This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
(I John 5:4)
Weekly Memory Verse
Now the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.
(II Thessalonians 3:16)