Did you know that even after you are born again, you still may find yourself at war with your own soul? The EXTERNAL forces of evil (the devil and his world culture) make our life hard enough; thus, we should NOT make things more difficult for ourselves by waging war against our own soul! You see, we have an enemy WITHIN and it’s called “the flesh.”
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”(1 Peter 2:11)
What are the “passions of the flesh?” In this context, it is any desire that violates God’s love. God’s Word is a manifestation of His love. He has the best plan for us. But our flesh is in a constant battle against our born-again soul and the ways of God. When the flesh is winning the daily battles in our life, it prevents us from producing the fruits of God’s Spirit (love, joy, peace, etc.) Christians who are controlled by the flesh are filled with anxiety. This conflict is like a war raging in our soul. God’s Word explains:
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.”Romans 7:18-22
But for those who choose to put God in charge instead of following their fleshly desires, their life is characterized by—amazing freedom.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2
It seems that more than half of the problems in my life have NOT been caused by EXTERNAL forces of evil, but rather, by the evil I was allowing my FLESH to be in charge of directing my life. The enemy was waging war from within!
Was I losing my mind or was I just deceived?
You see, although the more obvious “passions of the flesh,” like sex or drug addiction or the disproportionate pursuit of money and success—were easily identifiable as enemies of my soul—I never considered that there were ALSO more subtle enemies I’d ALLOWED in. The enemies like worry, fear, anxiety, doubt, unforgiveness, dissatisfaction and bitterness were like termites—gnawing deep holes and slowly tearing away at my foundation. When these negative thoughts captivate my mind, they pound against God’s fortress in my soul. But God has given me the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16) and I have the power to expel them before they become “passions of the flesh,” and are fully entrenched.
What a revelation!
Now that God has given me an awareness of the enemy that lurks within, I am on watch. So, for example, when I begin to worry, I ask God to show me how to trust Him. When I begin to be bitter, I ask God to help me forgive. When I begin to be afraid, I ask God to remind me of His greatness. The closer I stay to God, the more the light of His presence reveals these subtle “passions of the flesh” and the more quickly I give them the boot.
In God’s presence, peace reigns in my soul.
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