Faith or Flesh?
This world prizes self-sufficiency and it feeds on achievement. As those who have committed our hearts to Christ, we can still feel the conflict between our bent for self-reliance and our desire to walk free in the Spirit. Sometimes this conflict rages undetected, wearing at our souls and draining the energy right out of our hearts.
We desire to live God’s way, but without meaning to, we can still be dragging around the broken ways that we’ve always known.
This soul conflict of walking in the flesh while we are trying to walk in the Spirit can make a gal unsteady on her feet. We’ve all gotten caught in the battle that wages between flesh and Spirit.
For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. Romans 7:15
Back and forth between flesh and Spirit, it takes time for God to search us and show us the depths of the old ways of coping with life and depending on ourselves. Truths we know, have learned, have walked in…God uses brokenness, pain, and the hard things of life to show us that the ways of the flesh just don’t work. We come to the end of ourselves.
We want to move from sinner to sanctified in one easy step. A couple of hard lessons and we’ve got it. A + on the test of life.
Then God decides it’s time to bring us to the next step, the deeper level of what we thought we knew.
Over time, we discover there is a world of difference between knowing with our minds and truly knowing in the depths of our beliefs and experience. Knowledge without going through the crucible of experience does not fully penetrate the depths of our soul knowledge.
Think of it this way. Our soul is a deep pool filled with what we believe–really believe–not just know or agree with.
This is the truth that we live. Our belief pool has a bottom that is our foundation of core beliefs. Some of those beliefs are the truths of God.
But some of those beliefs are conclusions and perceptions, based on experiences and thoughts.
For instance, I know that in Christ I am accepted and loved. End of story…knowledge-wise.
Yet in the press and push of experiences, I’ve also learned that it hurts when you’re not accepted by people that you value. Sometimes truth and false beliefs born of pain and sin lie side by side in the depths of our soul.
God doesn’t force His way in. He takes us one step at a time through a process of breaking us from the old ways of our flesh. For you see, God can’t bring us to our full potential until we have experienced the truth that our own abilities and perceptions can’t take us all the way.
They can’t take us God’s way, which is dependence rather than independence.
Friend, have you found yourself asking God to bless your efforts, to help you do what He wants you to do? I have. Hanging onto that self-reliance, our flesh is still trying to do the work–now it’s just religious work.
But God didn’t save us to work for him, to be successful and productive in His name. God is interested in relationship–deep communion where Christ is living His life IN us. He saved us to be family, not employees or slaves.
In the flesh, and bound by the law, we pray, ” ‘Lord, help me to do the things You want me to do.’ In other words, ‘Help me keep Your rules.’ Grace will cause a person to say, ‘Lord Jesus, I am abiding in You and You in me. Express Your life through me in any way you desire.'” (Steve McVey, Grace Walk, p. 37).
This is the reality of learning to live by faith rather than by flesh.
When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Colossians 3:4
Excellent post, Ginger! I’m at a struggling place with this right now – with what I believe in head vs. heart. Walking it out is the only way to “cement it in”, so to speak. Thank you for the much-needed encouragement.
When flesh and faith are going at it, there is such internal tension and frustration. Praying for you as you walk this out. I’m right there with you!