Afterthoughts 9/23/2020

Fight

Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. [Galatians 5:16-17]

The Christian life is one in which we have access to peace, a peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7). Yet, the Christian life is also one of conflict. The late Alexander Schmemann, in his book For the Life of the World, said, “The first act of the Christian life is a renunciation, a challenge. No one can be Christ’s until he has, first, faced evil, and then become ready to fight it.”

When being baptized, before receiving the gift of the water, we are asked a set of questions. The first two are:
[1] On behalf of the whole Church, I ask you: Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?

[2] Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?

The Christian life is a life of renouncing, rejecting, repenting, resisting. The Christian life is a fight, a fight against what is called “the flesh” – the part of us that seeks to fulfill our selfish, sinful impulses. In seeking to say, “yes” to the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance in our lives, we must also say, “no” to the flesh. In other places, Paul talks about “crucifying the flesh” (Colossians 3:5);  “putting to death the deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13); and “putting off your old self” (Ephesians 4:22).

Of course, peace and comfort are significant parts of the Gospel. Yet, this life of faith is also about being engaged in a fight. Paul tells Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). Peter tells his friends to “abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). James refers to the cravings that are “at war within us” (James 4:1). This is the fight of our life – the fight for our life.

Brothers and sisters,
may we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus.
And may we be confident of the power of God that is at work in us,
that we may put to death the deeds of the flesh,
and live by the Holy Spirit.

  • Pastor Ty