There’s one thing we all have in common on this side of heaven. No matter where we are in our journey, we contain both spirit and flesh. We are a mix of heaven and earth, like water and oil slamming up against each other but never mixing. We often feel at war with our own selves, and we are not alone. The spirit within beckons us to a better way – a glorious road although a narrow one. But our flesh also beckons, a call to serve our most basic desires. One of my favourite pieces of scripture is that bit of Romans where Paul vocalizes this struggle.
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
If this great apostle and evangelist shared our struggle, you’ve got to know this is not yours alone. Beloved, you are not alone. God is not worried about you. He knows, He sees, He cares. But He is not the tiniest bit anxious about this struggle. He even spelled out the answer through this same broken friend of ours, Paul.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
He reiterates that the spirit and flesh are opposed within us, but then at the end he says that when we are led by the spirit we are not under the law. Where did that come from? We weren’t talking about the law. So what is Paul’s point? This is a lifting of the head moment. We’ve been so busy gazing at our own belly buttons – obsessing over what we do or don’t do. Agonizing over kicking an old habit or sticking with a new habit. God is gently lifting your head so that your gaze is only on Him. When your eyes are on Christ, you can’t help but be led by the Spirit. You can’t be sitting at God’s feet and knee deep in sin. They’re incompatible. You will have no desire for the things of the world when your gaze is fixed on Him. Paul is saying that when we’re focused on ourselves, we’re putting ourselves under the law. We’re looking at rules, do’s and don’ts, should’s and couldn’ts.
Allow the Father to gently lift your head so that He fills your vision. The only thing you need to resolve to do is to fix your gaze on Him. There is no flesh battle for you to fight, no law to keep, no sin to conquer. Beloved, He has provided for all of that with His Spirit. He’s designed it so that you can enjoy Him, resting and playing and working in Him, and He will overcome.