Do Christians Have an Inner Struggle with Sin or the Flesh?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Internet Theologian, Feb 6, 2016.

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Do Christians Have an Inner Struggle with Sin or the Flesh?

  1. Yes

  2. No

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  1. Internet Theologian

    Internet Theologian
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    At times some seem to indicate having an inner struggle with the flesh is nonexistent for the believer. The argument can at least sound this way as Scriptures are offered, such as Galatians 5:24;

    And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

    What do you say about this? I ask this for clarity sake as some may become confused about the issue.

    I like what J C Ryle stated here:

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. JonC

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    We are called to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily (Lk. 9:23), but when we do fail and sin we have both the confidence of an Advocate in Christ Jesus (1 Jn. 2:1) and the knowledge that nothing can separate us from Gods love (Rom. 8:31-39). Discipleship is a struggle, but it is a struggle with confidence of victory in Christ and an assurance that we will overcome because it is God who overcame on our behalf.

    Sent from my TARDIS
     
    #2 JonC, Feb 6, 2016
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  3. Internet Theologian

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    Taking up our cross speaks to me of our own criminality, that is that our punishment would have been just, of recognition of the affliction of sin, denial of ones self ('losing ones self', Luke 9:24-25) humility, contriteness, admission of guilt and of realization of the sacrifice of the Christ of God in our place, bearing our sin for us, shamelessness concerning following Christ; Luke 9:18-27.

    Thus I see the Christian walk in this sense; that this fellowship with God, 1 John 1:8-10 is experienced in confession of sin, 'to say the same thing', and that this is what takes place when walking in light (how can there be no recognition of our own vile nature if there were no light to expose it, and is this not what walking in the light entails, exposing our sin, then confessing sin before God, cleansing in His blood by His promise, and in communion with God?) How can one say they have communion with God without the recognition of sin that must come when in His presence? I believe all of this ties together. I do not believe fellowship with God to be possible or happening if there is no recognition of sin, and that to deny the existence of our own personal sin is to be amiss in our understanding of fellowship; 1 John 1:8, 10. This is how I see this peace of conscience and war within that J C Ryle speaks of.
     
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  4. JonC

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    I like your reference to 1 John and “walking in the light.” Here is what F.F. Bruce gleans from verse 8:

    “If people claim – perhaps on the ground of their possession of the Spirit – to have got beyond good and evil, to have reached a stage of spiritual development where moral principles are no longer relevant, they are self-deceived. The words ‘the truth is not in us’ are reminiscent of what is said of the devil in John 8:44, ‘there is no truth in him’. (Bruce, The Gospel & Epistles of John).”

    So if we walk in the light then we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. If we confess our sins, he is faithful to forgive (1 Jn. 1:7-10).

    In essence, what I understand you to be saying is that we not only experience salvation as a moment (although there is a moment of salvation) but also through being conformed into the image of Christ. This “walking in the light” is communion with God, which is expressed in sanctification as a process (we see our sin, confess our sin, are forgiven our sin….as a process of sanctification). I have recognized in my life that when I struggle with sin and overcome that sin, it is not long before I am convicted of another sin that previously alluded my detection. My cross is always self-denial, but it is not always the same. John 1:16 reads “For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. Bruce comments “What the followers of Christ draw form the ocean of divine fullness is grace upon grace – one wave of grace being constantly replaced by a fresh one.”

    I have not thought of it before, but you are right that this is how we experience God in our lives.
     
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  5. kyredneck

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    Uh, yea.... :

    22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
    23 but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members. Ro 7

    17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would. Gal 5
     
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  6. BrotherJoseph

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    Hi Brother Internet,

    How can there not be a war because the flesh and the Spirit because contrary to a commonly held doctrinal error, the flesh is neither born again or improved after regeneration. This is seen clearly in 3 scriptures, "63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing' (John 6:63). At regeneration, the Holy Spirit (also referred to the "inward man" elsewhere in scripture) is added to the believer, but the flesh does not change, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:6). That the flesh remains totally corrupt even after regeneration is seen here as Paul said after being born again, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing " (Romans 7:18). This is why we need and await the "adoption of the body" at which time the "vile body" (our flesh) will be changed at the Lord's return to be like His, "21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body" (Philippians 3:21). This is yet to come and in the culmination of the salvation of the believer and hence the last phase of the salvation in the believer, "even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." (Romans 8:23). At this glorious time our salvation will be complete as the "inward man" (His Spirit in us) that has already been born from above in this life at regeneration and thus does not sin ( The "inward man" is the portion of the believer John is referring to when he states, "18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself" 1 John 5:18), will be merged with a new vessel, a new body that is Like unto His that also no longer sins, thus we will be like Christ who has a spirit that does not sin and a body that does not sin. While we live on this earth our flesh does sin, the flesh is what John is referring to in the same book here, "10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 1:10) Only when one sees 1 John 5:18 that says he that is "born of God sinneth not" is referring the inward man and that 1 John 1:10 that says "If we say that we have not sinned we make him a liar" is talking of the "outward man" the flesh, do these two seemingly contradictory verses make sense and reconcile one to another and understand the war that begins at regeneration and ends at the adoption of the body. "53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." (1 Corinthians 15:53-54)
     
    #6 BrotherJoseph, Feb 6, 2016
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  7. walkinspirit

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    Do Christians have an inner struggle with sin and the flesh?

    Every true christian goes thru this experiences but I believe that when a christian has crucified his flesh with its desires and passions and walks in the Spirit, he experience freedom from the law of sin and death.

    Many interpret Romans chapter 7:7-25 as if Paul was talking of his present condition but in the context of this passage Paul is talking about life under the law and not life under grace. The Holy Spirit is not even mentioned once here and in Romans 8:1-17 where Paul talks about life in the Spirit, Holy Spirit is mentioned 17 times. There is a great contrast between the man who is a total failure in romans 7 and romans 8 wherr Paul describes the normal christian experience.

    There is a big difference between this two passages. Thomas Schreider who is a respected bible scholar and Martyn Lloyd Jones gave a good explanation of this passage of Romans 7, they did not believed that it was describing the life of a normal christian.

    Many preachers use this passage to justify the theology of indwelling sin and their exegetic interpretation is not biblical it contradicts what Paul talks about in Romans 8 living and walking in the Spirit.

    Is there a possible victory over sin? Is it possible not to sin willingly or knowingly against God for one hour or one day? Can indwelling Christ cast out from our hearts indwelling sin? What the bible says about these things?

    I think we will understand better these questions if we experience ourselves the meaning of what Paul said, "Not me but Christ lives in me". Paul had died to sin and his life was crucified with Christ of the cross, it was not about Paul, it was all about Jesus.

    Did he struggle with sin? Sure he did, did he had to crucify his flesh every day? I'm sure he did because his life in Christ was an example of godliness and holiness for believers to follow.

    The conflict with last to the end because we are called in a holy war against the powers of darkness and to put on the whole armor of God. God calls us to be overcomers and an overcome by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit is enabled to have victory over sin, the flesh, the world and the devil. The saints during the great tribulation overcame the devil by the power of the blood of Jesus shed on the cross for our sins and the the testimony of Jesus and they had to even give their life for Jesus.

    I don't believe in the theology of total defeat that talks about indwelling sin as if there is no cure to it as if the deaths of Christ on the cross and his blood he shed on the cross can't clease me from all of my sin.

    I believe in the theology of total victory in Christ, that even though I will carry with me this mortal body and flesh I still can walk in the light as he is in the light and the blood of Jesus will cleases me from all of my sins.
     
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  8. Internet Theologian

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    Hello walkinspirit,

    I have utmost respect for DMLJ most certainly but do however disagree with him here on this issue of Romans 7. It is apparent Paul is speaking of the distinction of the flesh and of the inner man which is after Christ and the ensuing battle thereof.

    I think you hit on that in your last sentence above as you describe your spiritual walk in the same way Paul described his walk and the inner war. It is all part of this fellowship with God. I believe many become confused over this issue and then go extreme to believe that this inner war is not part of the Christian experience. I believe this is the position that DMLJ took but imo is incorrect.

    It seems there is great fear that if this were preached then people would use it as a license to sin, or to sin 'on purpose'. I hardly think that believers only sin on accident. If there be no struggle with the flesh, then that is a differing subject matter altogether and something then would be amiss.
     
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  9. Internet Theologian

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    I like your answer brother.
     
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  10. SovereignGrace

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    Walkinginspirit,

    It is of MY opinion Romans 7:14-25 is Paul describing his struggles with sin. That is the warfare all believers fight. The flesh and Spirit war with each other.
     
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  11. Jerome

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    Good stuff on this exact topic over at the 'DoG House' in a thread by 'preacher4truth':

    http://the-dog-house.boards.net/thread/835/archibald-alexander


    Uncanny, huh?

    Blessings.
     
  12. Internet Theologian

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    Isn't it!
     
  13. walkinspirit

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    We agree that there is a conflict between the flesh and the Spirit. Maybe our disagreement bible terms like new man vs old man, new nature vs. old nature. Let's take an hypothetical example of a spiritual man, does he have two nature living in him at the same time? This man has crucified the flesh, he has reckon himself dead with Christ on the Cross like Apostle Paul, he has a communion with God and is living in the light

    Is this man having two nature at the same time living in him? If so, it will contradict Paul and Peter about a spiritual christian being and new creation in Christ and partaking of divine nature.

    The dualistic teaching that a christian will have two natures at the same time in him is no NT teaching b it has its roots on the ancient Greek philosophy and Gnosticism.

    We are not schizophrenic with dual natures living at the same time in us. We either are living as a new creation in Christ or not, its either my old self or Christ, living in the Spirit or living in the flesh. You can't have both and if we oscilinate between old and new man, one day we live in spirit next day we live in the flesh, we are carnal christian.

    I'm not denying the existence of the old man in us but that we cannot have both at the same time. If we don't renew our minds by the Holy Spirit and live a godly life we will be slaves to sin and old man will have his way in us.
     
  14. BrotherJoseph

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    Hi Brother WakintheSpirit,

    Welcome to the board! Do you believe the flesh remains depraved after one becomes born again or do you believe it changes or is remade after regeneration, if so how do you believe it is changed?
     
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  15. walkinspirit

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    Hi brother thx for welcoming me here, to answer your question I will do my best to clarify the meaning of the word flesh according to the apostles understanding of ir
    Hi brother thx for the welcome. I will do my best to clarify what I mean by the flesh. In Romans 7:18 Paul says:

    "For I know (that is in my flesh), dwellth no good thing : for to will is present with me but how to perform that which is good I find not".

    And in first 1 John 2:16 Apostle John says :

    " For all that is in the world, the last of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world".

    According to Paul in the flesh dwells no good thing and John says the lust of the flesh is of the world. Also in Romans 8:13 Paul says:

    "For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body we will live".

    We are exhorted to mortify and to put to death the deeds of the flesh and in Colossians 3:18 he explains that we have to put to death what is earthly in us, like formication, impurity, evil desires, and covetousness which is idolatry and in other bible verses we can find more specific examples of the deeds of the flesh and Paul makes in clear that those who people who live a sinful lifestyle like that will not inherit the kingdome of God.

    If we are left to the flesh, its evil inclinations will lead us to sin. I want to clarify something that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and should be sanctified as well as the soul and the spirit.

    " Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ".

    Also in Romans 12:1 Paul exhorts believers in Rome by the mercies of God to present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.

    The body here is to be holy and its not equated to the flesh which should be crucified. In other words we need to crucify our old I and give the throne of our heart to Christ to reign as King and rule as Lord. Jesus called to to die to ourselves to pick up our cross and follow him as our Master.

    This has been the secret of the godly men from the past, they lived a crucified life and they experienced the power of the blood and of the Holy Spirit in their lives and the secret of their fruitful ministry of the indwelling Christ.
     
  16. walkinspirit

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    My apologies for my typos here , I'm typing from my smartphone and I don't know if I can edit what I wrote here.

    I have a question for you brotherJoseph how do you understand the teaching of new creation and old creation, new man and old man? Our we called to live a dualistic lifestyle? What I mean by that is having two natures at the same time governing our life, the old one in Adam and the new one in Christ?

    You see I don't find a biblical teaching in the NT that teaches this kind of dualistic lifestyle as God's will for our life. This kind of teaching has its roots in the pagan platonic philosophy and gnostic teaching, that teaches this dualism and Augustine who was influenced by neo-platonism, and the influence of Manichaeism was still evident in his teachings.

    According to Paul we should livenas new creatures in Christ and reckon ourselves dead as dead to Christ but he does not stop there he makes sure that we understand we have to crucify our flesh with its passions and desires and live and walk in the Spirit and bear fruit, live holy and godly lives and sin but but if we do, we need to confess it, repent and forsake it and the blood of Jesus will cleanse us of our sins. Is this sinless perfection? No but its very clear from the bible that we should not sin willingly or knowingly and that by the grace of God we can live in such an intimate union with Chriatnthat we will have the power to resist sin and not to sin knowingly because in the Hebrews it's clear that we should not sin willingly and if we do and excuse that there is no forgiveness for us.

    Is there victory over sin for believers who are in Christ? Yes there is that's what the bible teaches is we receive Christ as our justification and sanctification, there won't be room for indwelling sin and the love if God will be shed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit to enable us to love God with all our heart and our neighbor as yourself and all this is make possible by the grace of God.

    To conclude in the NT the spiritual man who lives a life of faith and obeys God is described as a new creation in Christ and as a partaker of divine nature, his life is being transformed by one degree of glory to another and he is more and more Christ like and presinf toward the goal of absolute perfection that he will have one day when Christ will resurrect and glorify his mortal body and where he will be like Jesus.

    That's what I believe the bible teaches about new creation in Christ and about godliness and holiness. It teaches the restoration of the image and likeness of God in us thru Jesus Christ and it teaches about a progressive perfection that will reach it's absolute perfection only when our mortal bodies will be glorified in heaven at the second coming of Jesus Christ.
     
  17. BrotherJoseph

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    Brother,

    Is the depraved flesh changed or does it remain depraved after one is born again? I did not see an answer to this in your above reply.
     
  18. BrotherJoseph

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    I do not use the term two natures because that conveys an impossible idea that after becoming born again the sinner has two natures in one man which war each against the other, but this cannot be because Christ said, "Every kingdom divided against itself, is brought to desolation: and every city or house divided against itself, shall not stand.". It would certainly seem from this verse, that a man divided against himself would be of similar character; in other words he would be unable to be of any separate personality; and I might well ask in what possible manner such an organism could exist; one half natural, earthy; the other half, spiritual, heavenly?

    Rather at the new birth, there does not come to exist two natures, but rather two men, the "new man" (also referred in scripture as the "inner man") which spirit is born from the Holy Spirit (just like the Holy Ghost came upon Mary and Christ was born ), but the child of God still has the "old man "(also referred to in scripture by numerous names such as "the outward man" and "the flesh") which is born after flesh from our earthly father Adam, unlike the new man that is born after the Spirit from our Father Jesus Christ, As Jesus said, "6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:6). There is a warfare and it is between the "inward man" and "the outward man", two men, not two natures. Scripture does not speak of us as having two natures.

    There being two men after regeneration is seen clearly by statements in Romans 7. He writes in Romans 7:18, " For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing", here Paul clearly identifies the "I" as being the outward man which he calls " my flesh" that in it "dwelleth no good thing" , but then he continues four verses later and states, "22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man" (Romans 7:22). Here notice Paul also identifies himself with an "I", but this time instead of the flesh mentions an "inward man" that delights "in the law of God", therefore this cannot be the same "I" he previously identified in verse 18 as his "flesh" because in his flesh he stated "dwelleth no good thing", therefore how could the flesh "delight in the law of God"? There are two separate entities in one earthly vessel after regeneration. Do you agree with me brother, if not what points do you disagree with?

    We are a "new creature" in terms of having the "new man" in us that we didn't previously have until becoming born again.

    God bless,

    Brother Joe
     
  19. JamesL

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    Your "two man" idea sounds quite mystical and ambiguous. Inner and outer. Are you speaking in ontological terms? At one point it seems so, but then you're talking about this "new man" doesn't come til after regeneration, and how the outer man is never regenerated.

    Can you you speak in clear, concise language that doesn't require a degree in mystical religions to understand?
     
  20. BrotherJoseph

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    Really mystical? I didn't know you define scriptural terminology as "mystical"? Here is the term I used "inward man" found here "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:" (Romans 7:22). Term used "outward man" and "inward man" both found here "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16) . Also scriptural synonym of inward man = new man "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians 4:24). Scriptural synonym for "outward man" is "old man" "That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;" (Ephesians 4:22). Other synonymy for "outward man" in scripture is the word "flesh" are "in me that is in my flesh dwelleth no good thing" (Romans 7:18) and "carnal' is another synonym , "For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin" (Romans 7:14) and "carnal mind" "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." (Romans 8:17). Finally, another synonym for "inward man" is that while we have a carnal mind we also have the "mind of Christ", "For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16)

    I guess by your definition Paul was a mystic brother James L? Perhaps you just don't understand what I was trying to explain in my posts.
     
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