I recently saw a social media post by a Pastor that said, “The war against the flesh is not a war a Pacifist wins.”
Why? Why are we still having this issue of the Believer being taught they have to fight their flesh? Since when is the fight against the flesh our fight to win? Why do we keep bringing works into what God has already accomplished on our behalf through Grace on the cross? Why is it we feel like we have to add something to what He’s already done? Why do we have to use words like war, warrior, and fight when it comes to our faith in what Jesus did?
I’m not saying that this life is easy or that there isn’t a certain amount of effort that we have to put forth in our life, but that pertains entirely in order to remain in Christ’s rest. That’s the only effort that Christ asked from us; to strive and put effort to remaining in His rest in His promises, in faith, by trusting in what He did 2000 years ago is enough to kill our flesh as well as redeem our Spirit. We are made an entirely NEW CREATION! FLESH IS DEAD!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Cor 5:17
“For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” Galatians 6:15
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
“If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” Colossians 2:20-23
Believing and teaching we must fight our flesh leaves us frustrated and confused. In Romans 7 Paul states, “I do the things I do not wish to do and the things I wish to do, I do not do.” We are encouraged to live by the Spirit, meaning we are free to live in the flesh, but we will find ourselves frustrated and lacking fulfillment and satisfaction in this life on earth. In the Pauline epistles we see Paul encourage us to live by the Spirit, to not buy into the idea of the flesh, and to think on spiritual things, not on worldly things.
Jesus was a Pacifist during his time on earth. Jesus never said to fight. Jesus never called us to be warriors. Jesus never told us to fight our flesh. Jesus did say to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him. (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34) This does not mean pick up your baggage, your struggle, your failure everyday and have a war against it. The tense used in this direction is the aorist tense, a past tense; which means ONCE in the past, a simple occurrence, one and done! Jesus used the phrase “to take up your cross” to point to what type of brutal death He would suffer. With this understanding the phrase, “follow me” then can accurately be understood to be crucified with him, not to mean that you physically die, but crucified with Christ like Paul was crucified with Christ by Christ’s Spirit.
By identifying ourselves how Christ identifies us we can stop saying and believing we are a work in progress. We can stop believing that we are fighting our flesh and we can fully believe that we are whole. New. Not our flesh, but our spirit, Christ’s Holy Spirit. When we live from this belief we live not fighting our flesh. We live from the righteousness Paul addresses (in Philippians 3:3) ;that we are the circumcision and worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus, putting no confidence in the flesh.
Philippians 3:14-16 “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call in God, in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way and if there’s anything you think otherwise God reveal that also to you only let us hold true to what we have already attained.”
Christ’s gift of grace gives us the freedom to be pacifists against the flesh, because as believers the war against our flesh is not our fight. It’s Christ’s and the war has already been won.