Battle of the mind: Flesh vs Spirit

I have seen a lot of Christian book titles entitled battle of the mind, all of which in my opinion miss the mark of the exact issue we as Christians have to deal with in our minds. In our article satan cannot access our minds, we recognised that as born again believers in Christ Jesus that satan can’t access our minds, put thoughts in our minds, read our minds or have dominion over us. So what is the battle? I would like to try and simplify it as this; externally our battle is with satan and the world (Ephesians 6:12, John 16:33) and internally we are dealing with the flesh as we are told in Galatians 5:17, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” The Spirit here is referring to the Holy Spirit who joins with our spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17) and who now dwells in us (1 Corinthians 3:16).

I believe where the church is getting it wrong is that it is referring to sin, sin nature, flesh, old man, carnal etc as satan. Now this is true for those who don’t believe in Jesus and who haven’t yet received salvation, they will be dominated and influenced by their flesh and are wide open to be used by satan. But for those of us who are born again believers in Christ Jesus this is not the case. This WAS our way of life before salvation (Ephesians 2:3) but we are now new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) and through Him we should walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).

Now the term flesh here is not referring to the flesh as in our physical bodies (Genesis 2:21), but rather the flesh which is also referred to as our old man/sin nature/carnal mind. This was inherited and transmitted to every human being born into this world after the fall when adam and eve disobeyed Gods command not to eat off of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:11) and we became cursed (Genesis 3:17).

Let’s look at some of the attributes of the flesh as described in scripture,

“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries,” Galatians 5:19-21.

“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” Colossians 3:5.

“But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.” Colossians 3:8.

We can all relate to the apostle Paul when he recognised the flesh in Romans 7.

“For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me”.

So Paul asks the question in verse 24, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” And we are given the answer in verse 25, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then I myself serve the law of God with my mind but with my flesh I serve the law of sin”. Now the whole of Romans chapter 8 is about the victory we have over the flesh as believers in Christ Jesus.

“For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” Here in Romans 8:2 we are told that we are made (past tense of the word make) free from the law which Paul speaks about in Romans 7.

“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree")” Galatians 3:13

So we know why we are free, thanks be to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, but how do we overcome the flesh in our daily lives?

The answer is to yield to the Holy Spirit by walking in the Spirit so we shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). Jesus tells us in John 15:4-5 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” We can’t use or follow our strength; it is only through His strength in us that allows us to overcome the flesh.” The result of walking in the spirit is evident in our lives. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

Now it’s interesting when you look at these verses above together. Use your imagination which our Blessed Lord has given us to picture all this. Perhaps whilst writing Galatians Paul got this image of ‘fruit’ from Jesus when he talks about the ‘vine’ and ‘fruit’. So if our Christian walk is to be a walk of love and joy and peace, then “walk by the Spirit” must mean “bear the fruit of the Spirit.” But again, it’s not our work but the Spirit’s work which is emphasized. He bears the fruit.

So we know the answer to overcoming the flesh is by walking in the spirit but another question I hear you ask. How do we walk in the spirit? The answer is faith.

Galatians 5:6, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love” Faith always produces love as faith pushes out fear, guilt and greed and gives us a passion to enjoy God’s power. Galatians 5:22 says love is a fruit of the Spirit. So if love is what faith necessarily produces and love is a fruit of the Spirit, then the way to walk by the Spirit is to have faith. Galatians 3:23, “But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed”. Then Galatians 5:18, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law”. So a person is free from being under the law by the coming of faith and we are led by the Spirit by faith. To again emphasise the importance of faith, Galatians 3:5, “Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” The Spirit does His awesome work in us and through us only by the hearing of faith. By faith alone we are sanctified. The way to walk by the Spirit and so not fulfil the desires of the flesh is to hear, trust, delight and rest in the promises of God.

Lastly on the subject of faith, a powerful verse in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh (physical body) I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me”. Galatians 2:20. By faith the only way to walk in victory is to let Christ live through us. Notice here that we had to use Gods supernatural faith even to do this! (Ephesians 2:8). Paul emphasises this twice in Galatians 2:16, ‘faith of Jesus Christ’ which we received as a gift through hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

Another part of this process involves renewing our minds. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2. By changing the way we think to believe what God says in His Word about who we are as new creations in Him, then the agreement between our soul and spirit forms a majority and our flesh will experience the life of God that is in our spirit. If we keep our minds stayed on God through the study of His Word and fellowship with Him then we will have perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3).

One for the imagination. To use an analogy we are like a computer. Our body is the hardware and our spiritual makeup is like the computer software. We had an old programme (flesh) operating the computer system which was causing the computer to function improperly. When we became born again we were given and downloaded an outstanding and efficient new system (by receiving the Holy Spirit). The old operating system won’t be deleted until we receive our glorified bodies after physical death but the new operating system has been downloaded for us as the best system to operate our computer effectively from the day of our salvation then throughout eternity.

In this article I’ve used the word battle here to emphasise the point of this particular subject but we must remember that the battle has already been won at the cross as Jesus victoriously reminds us, IT IS FINISHED! (John 19:30). Moving forwards in our walk with Christ, the answer is clear. We stop trying to fill the emptiness of our lives with the things of the world, and put our souls at rest in God. The Spirit will work the miracle of regeneration in your life when your heart is resting in the promises of God day and night (Joshua 1:8).

I say to you, brothers and sisters, walk by the Spirit, and you will not fulfil the desires of the flesh. Look into your spiritual mirror by reading God’s Word and become rooted, grounded and established in the Word of God by giving God's Word first place in your life today! (Colossians. 1:23, Psalm 112).

(Brackets) within scripture have been added by me to emphasise and define further the word in question.

Uncovering satan Series

Part 1: Who is satan?

Part 2: Satan cannot access our minds

Part 3: Battle of the mind: Flesh vs Spirit

Part 4: Temptation

Part 5: Conviction and Righteousness

Part 6: The conscience

© 2020 Be Free Ministries

  • Facebook
  • YouTube