Inner Conflict - Lesson 5 - What Is The Flesh?
THE REASON FOR THE CONFLICT
The nature of regeneration is rarely explained these days. It is true, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Cor 5:17). That does not mean, however, that you will no longer confront wicked thoughts, temptations, and vain imaginations.
Conflicting Life Has Been Introduced In Christ, you have received new heart, one that can be fashioned by the Lord--a "heart of flesh," malleable and supple (Ezek 11:19; 36:26). Because you are a son, you have also received His Holy Spirit (Gal 4:6; 1 John 4:13; 1 Thess 4:8). Christ now "dwells in your heart by faith" (Eph 3:16-17), and you have "eternal life" (1 John 5:13). It is the presence of this new life that has created the conflict you are experiencing.
Our "new man" cannot be reconciled to this situation. He is unwilling to cohabit with the "old man" (Rom. 6:6), "put off" when we are baptized into Christ. One of these natures must die! One must be "crucified," "mortified," and "denied" (Gal. 5:24; Col. 3:5; Tit. 2:10-11). One must be "put off," and the other "put on" (Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9). They cannot be given simultaneous dominance! In the economy of grace, there is no question about what is to be done. The "old man" must be "put off." The flesh must be "crucified," denying it expression and dominance.
It is true that the "children of God" are basically "peacemakers" (Matt. 5:9). They "sow in peace" and "make peace" (James 3:18). They also prefer the "bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3). But they make no peace with the flesh. Now, indeed, can they dwell in peaceful coexistence with those dominated by the flesh. They war to survive, not out of preference. They long for the time when war will cease, and swords--even spiritual ones--will be beaten into plowshares (Isa. 2:4; Micah 4:3). Their condition requires deliverance! Now, in this world, we occupy the realm of restriction. Even the Lord Jesus confessed that while here, He was "straitened" (Luke 12:50). This is the land of the enemy (Jer. 31:16)! Satan is the prince of this world (John 14:30; 16:11), and all that is in it is destined to "pass away" (1 John 2:17). We are not content with this situation because we have been justified. In Christ we come into a kingdom that "cannot be shaken" (Heb. 12:27): one in which we shall "never see death" (John 11:26). As death and life cannot be reconciled, so we cannot reconcile ourselves to our present dilemma. Our condition requires deliverance.
The Old Nature Is Not Eradicated The "old man," or your unregenerate nature, has lost its dominancy over the believer--but it has not been destroyed. The "body," or mass, of our sin has been "destroyed" or "done away" (Rom 6:6). By the grace of God, it has been disconnected from us. You are, however, still saddled, so to speak, with the "flesh" the sinful nature. The "flesh, together with the affections and lusts," have been appropriately "crucified" by those in Christ Jesus (Gal. 5:24). Notwithstanding, it still asserts itself. It is much like the impenitent thief that was crucified with Christ. Although he was on the cross, and, in a way, incapacitated, yet he asserted himself to the sorrow of the sensitive. That thief was disabled. He could not launch a military war, take up a sword, or cast stones. All he could really do was cast aspersions at the Lord. However, had Jesus given heed to the words of the unrepentant thief, doubt would have been introduced, and ultimate disobedience would have prevailed.
It is no different with the believer. The old nature really has no power. It cannot enslave the believer against his will. Satan, has also been rendered impotent in the realm of faith. He can work through the Adamic nature, or "old man," but he cannot force the believer to sin. He can only make suggestions--just as in the garden of Eden. He lures the child of God, attracting him through lusts that are resident in the lower, or sinful, nature.
You must remember, THE FLESH IS UNALTERABLE! You cannot train it to think right or act right. You must control it, buffeting it, and bringing it into subject (1 Cor 9:27).
You Are In Two Worlds At The Same Time You have been raised up, and made to sit together with Christ Jesus "in heavenly places" (Eph 2:6). Your citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20), and there is where you are blessed (Eph 1:6). But this is not all the story. You also dwell in a house of clay (Job 4:19), a frail tent (2 Cor 5:1-4), and a "vile body" (Phil 3:20). You are also in a world that is passing away, destined to be burned up (2 Pet 3:10-12). Do not doubt for one moment the reality of the inner conflict created by this situation!
There Are Contrasting Views Having two natures, you can see things from two perspectives. However, these are not complementary perspectives. They are antagonistic to one another. You can judge things according to appearance, or you can judge righteous judgment (John 7:24). The latter is the only acceptable way to evaluate the things about you. You can look at things that are seen, or at things that are not seen (2 Cor 4:17-18). These views are also conflicting. This sets the stage for the inner struggle of the believer.
To put it another way; in this world, you are being oriented for the "world to come" (Heb 2:5). While you are in the state of orientation, inner conflict is inevitable. Remember, you are a stranger in this world-- and the world does not like it! You have left the devil's camp, and he does not like it. You are refusing to let your lower nature dominate you, and it does not like it! No wonder you have inner conflict!