Part II: The Victory
Central to Christianity is the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. By His birth, God became incarnate, but by His death and resurrection, Jesus atoned for our sins and proved His deity. In His glorified incarnate body Jesus now sits as one with the Father at His right hand making intercession for all who believe and have received the gift of salvation.
The Apostle Paul emphasized the centrality of the resurrection when he said, “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. … And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (I Corinthians 15: 14, 17).
If Jesus had not conquered sin and death, if Jesus is not our Savior, if Jesus had not ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, we would have no hope. Life would be viewed only as materialistic and temporary with death being the final end with no afterlife reality of heaven or hell. (A people’s view on the existence of the Creator and eternal consequences impacts their nation’s philosophy of government in terms of the nature of man, source of rights, and the duty of government. Our Founders rejected an atheistic governmental philosophy and declared that the existence of the Creator was an “undeniable” truth.)
But praise God, every believer in Jesus knows otherwise. Because of the reality of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are set “free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). Our faith is steadfastly rooted in the historic fact of Jesus’ life, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, with the knowledge and hope of an eternal presence with God after our physical death, and eventually a resurrected and glorified body when the world as we know it ceases to exist.
The victory that Jesus won on the cross is not just a victory over the sting of death, but Jesus also won for us a victory over the flesh! “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:55-57). Because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the power that enables us to choose against the temptations of the flesh and to walk in the Spirit.
In Romans chapter 7, after discussing the internal battle that goes on in each of us between the flesh and the Spirit, the Apostle Paul boldly proclaimed the victory in Jesus. “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:24-25). The victory has been won for us. We do not need to walk after the flesh, but we have the power through Christ to walk after the Spirit.
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:3-11)
How do we know if we are walking after the Spirit or walking after the flesh at any given time? Look at the fruit or the manifestations! You are familiar with the list.
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. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:17-26)
The “renewing of your mind” involves a choice. The great news is that God, through Christ, has given us the victory over the flesh and has given us the Holy Spirit to “guide you in all truth” (John 16:13) “that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). Just as we receive by faith the eternal salvation provided through Jesus, we also need to receive by faith the victory over the flesh we have in Christ. This week, meditate on Romans 6-8 and continually thank God for the victory over the flesh He has given you. As you meditate on, and rejoice in, your victory in Christ, you will be putting off the “old man” and putting on the “new man,” and you will “be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (See, Ephesians 4:22-24).