Fighting the Flesh

Fighting the Flesh


It is the believer’s duty and delight to love Christ by keeping His commands (John 14:15). However, this is not always easy. The Christian lives with a conflict and struggle: they are simultaneously a saint and a sinner. Positionally, the Christian is justified and is a saint. Yet every believer knows the battle with indwelling sin. The cause of such a conflict is the flesh. The word flesh is used various ways in the Scriptures. It can refer to the physical human body (Luke 24:39), human nature (John 1:14) and human sinfulness (Gal. 5:16). It is the third description that I have in view in this post.

For the believer, this refers to that part of their humanity that awaits final redemption. They are saved, forgiven, justified yet remaining in them is the flesh. John MacArthur noted, “Believers do not always do what they wish to do. There are those moments in every Christian’s experience when the wishing is present but the doing is not.”[1] What is the solution to such a problem? Instead of becoming passive (“let go and let God”) or self-achieving (rules and regulations), we are to combat the flesh by making use of God’s divinely given resource. This resource is exclusive to those who are redeemed. Galatians 5:16 says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh“. MacArthur again insightfully says,

“The life walked by the Spirit is the Christlike life, the saturation of a believer’s thoughts with the truth, love, and glory of His Lord and the desire to be like Him in every way.”[2]

Yes, the believer is in the midst of a conflict and struggle, but it is the believer’s duty by God’s grace and the Spirt’s enablement to fight the flesh. The weapon is spiritual and powerful. We are to pursue Christ with all our heart and cultivate a love for Him. Remember, that despite the difficulty of fighting the flesh, we can be filled with hope,

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).

This is our hope, so this ought to be our priority!

[1] John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Galatians, Moody Press, 1987, p. 156

[2] Ibid, p. 154


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