Five Struggles Of Man
There are five types of struggles that involve men (or women). The unbeliever is involved in the first two types of struggles which he always loses.
Satan and the man against God.
Satan and the man*s flesh against his conscience.
When a man becomes a Christian he changes sides and gets on God*s side. He then has three new types of struggles which he always wins.
God and the man*s renewed spirit against his flesh.
God and the man*s renewed spirit against the world.
God and the man*s renewed spirit against the Devil.
All men have a conscience. The conscience is God-given. The conscience has a purpose. It is an internal moral compass. All men violate their own conscience at times. All men are aware that they have violated something, whether or not they recognize that it was God*s law or one of their own making.
Sometimes the flesh wins -- other times the conscience wins. The oftener the flesh wins, the more the conscience is weakened. The Bible calls it a seared conscience. Man condemns himself when he violates God*s law. When he violates his own conscience he simply lowers his standards. And then he violates them again. Unless Christ intervenes, the sinful flesh defeats the perverted conscience and the man ends up in the lake of fire.
There is also the struggle of the flesh (man) against God. If the man wins the struggle, he ends up in the lake of fire. If the man surrenders to God, he ends up in paradise.
The man who surrenders to God becomes a Christian. Then he begins the struggles that will end in guaranteed victory.
Ephesians 6:12: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
The spirit in the Christian man is that part of him that has been recreated (regenerated) when he became a Christian. It has been recreated with some things that did not exist in the man before. There is an ability to appreciate God, communicate with Him and obey Him. It is that part of the man that will now begin to control the flesh righteously. The struggle will go on until the flesh (body) dies or is changed at the return of Christ.
The most significant part of a man before salvation is the flesh. The most significant part of a saved man is his spirit. Before salvation, the non-material part of you, the earth-bound soul, the flesh, was the real you. After salvation the regenerated, heaven-connected, heaven-bound spirit is the real you.
Perhaps the simplest way to describe this struggle is to say it is between the old you and the new you.
I believe it is helpful to defeat the old man by breaking or weakening or humbling the old man. Sometimes the Bible says of such a man that he has been afflicted. The Jewish people were told in the Old Testament to afflict themselves by fasting. Our bodies get weaker when we don*t eat. Jesus taught in the New Testament that we would have more power against evil by fasting and praying.
I believe that I do my best spiritual work before I eat breakfast in the morning. Once I eat breakfast, the flow slows down. Whatever edge I might have in the morning is dulled after I eat. I would certainly encourage you to pray and study your Bible and meditate before breakfast. I believe that I also do better and more spiritual things when I wake up in the middle of the night well before I feed my body and strengthen it. I also do better and more spiritual things when I do not feel well physically. That happens more often as I get older. The only appropriate way for us to deliberately weaken our body is by fasting. Our health is a gift from God. I believe that fasting should not harm our health. We should give up foods or other things we enjoy, not nourishment our bodies need.
Brokenness is part of God*s plan for each of us. Brokenness is not enjoyable for our flesh. But if we are to become mature, obedient Christians and more like Christ it is vital. A man who has never been broken is a proud man. He will not understand the value of brokenness. We cannot fully see or reveal to others God*s wonderful attributes until we have been broken. We cannot have a right relationship with Him until we have been broken. We cannot even become Christians until we have been broken.
It is easier to defeat an enemy that has been weakened. The victory of the spirit over the flesh is easier when the flesh has been broken. Brokenness also can keep us humble so we can be blest and honored by God.
One fact of the Christian life is that our righteous spirit is stuck with an unrighteous flesh in the same body.
Galatians 2:19: 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 I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
The Apostle Paul was very explicit about the struggle between his spirit and his flesh.
Romans 7:22-23: For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
1 Corinthians 9:25-27: And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
If someone with the credentials of the Apostle Paul had this struggle we shouldn*t be surprised that we have it also. He gives us instructions to win the battle by walking in the spirit.
Galatians 5:16-17: This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
2 Corinthians 4:7-9: But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
King David knew that his affliction was a benefit, because it caused him to obey God and to learn from God.
Psalm 119:66-67: Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now I have kept thy word.
Psalm 119:71: It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
When we are broken, God can work His will. God doesn*t work because we are strong. God works because He is strong. God works better when we are weak and because we are weak.
Psalm 51:17: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
The Apostle Paul also learned the spiritual value of having an infirm flesh.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10: And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ*s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
When God afflicts our flesh for some spiritual purpose, it is not a bad thing, it is a wonderful thing. Then His Power flows.
Psalm 34:17-19: The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.
Isaiah 57:15: For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
Isaiah 66:2: For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.
Christians that have been *pruned* by the Lord bear more fruit just as trees that have been pruned bear more fruit.
I received this story second-handedly and regret that I do not know the name of the assistant pastor:
An assistant pastor in Michigan told a story involving a broken vase. He told how he had broken a vase his mother had received for a gift from a beloved family member. He told us that he gathered the broken pieces of the vase and took them to one of his classes and repaired the vase with a special glue.
What kind of struggles are you involved in?