The Battle of Flesh and Spirit | Finding Joy in a Crumbling World

Updated from May 2020

It’s the believer’s daily charge to walk by faith, to walk in the spirit and in love, and not in the flesh. (Gal 5:16) Scripture exhorts us to test ourselves, (2 Corinthians 13:5) to keep sight of the spiritual, the holiness and sovereignty of God (Eph 3:14-19) and to thankfully remember the immeasurable gift we’ve received; the enormity of our salvation while we’re in the world. (Heb 2:3, 12:28-29) That battle is increasingly difficult today amidst the flood of lies and ugliness coming through media and the tragically deceived.

I wake up each morning to the sound of birds, the budgies in the next room and the wild birds outside in the trees that line the creek behind my house. I listen to each song in the chorus; happily; joyfully celebrating the new day as if they are surprised and exuberantly proclaiming;

“It happened again! The sun is here! It’s another glorious day!”

The miracle of each new day is not lost on birds.

Each morning, I catch their enthusiasm and turn to my Father in gratitude; “Thank you!” I pick up my Bible, read a bit and talk to my King.

All is well in the world.

And then

I turn on my computer and check for events of the day, and I can literally feel my joy being washed away. I desperately try to hold on to the majesty of those waking moments as the news of what’s happening to people all over the world, what’s being done to God’s beautiful creation pours from the monitor.

“COP27: Religious Leaders Unveil The New Ten Commandments for Climate Justice.”

“Canadian doctor demands further study into the link between Covid-19 vaccines and blood clots after his research found clots in a majority of vaccinated patient”

“1,000 athletes die suddenly.”

“World Leaders Agree to Vaccine Passports for Travel.”

“At Least 13 U.S. Hospitals Perform Gender Transition Surgeries on Minors.”

“Giant tsunami engulfs NSW towns as dam spills in Australia causing unprecedented flooding in November 2022”

“Life as you know it is over. Be afraid. Be very afraid.”


Maybe your mornings go something like mine.

So, how do we hold onto our beautiful, Holy God in face of the lies, fears and cruel realities surrounding us? We need something much stronger than our own willpower. We need the supernatural help of our King! And what a King we have! Listen:

“In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said,

‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”

And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filing with smoke. Then I said,

‘Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.’” (Isaiah 6:1-5)

Those words always bring tears to my eyes. They bring me back to that moment when I was taken into a heavenly realm and God revealed His Holiness and Glory to me. There is simply no vocabulary to adequately describe that experience. And I was only in the spiritual realm. Isaiah actually saw the Lord Himself seated on His throne in heaven above! It’s no wonder that from that point on he referred to God as “The Holy One of Israel!”

This Holy God has promised to be with us in times of trouble. (Psa 46:1, Deut 31:6, Matt 28:20). And through His Son we can draw close and enter into His throne room every time we bow our heads to pray!

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb 4:16)

The worldly circumstances that would steal our happiness are no match for the joy found in His presence. (Psa 16:11) Joy and happiness are ours. Today. Now. Scripture tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength, (Neh 8:10) and if we ever needed that joy and strength it’s today!

“But wait a minute,” some would say, “God’s call to holiness is a call to sacrifice. There’s joy in knowing that we’re pleasing to God through the “Christ filter,” but we need to be focused on saying ‘no’ to sin, otherwise you’re talking ‘hyper-grace.’ And you better stay “‘fessed up” so you don’t lose your salvation!”

Thank you, Mr. theologian, but I’m going to have to respectfully disagree. I spent years as a young believer wondering where the “joy of the Lord” was and why I wasn’t feeling it. Carnal arguments like that ☝ were what kept me confused.

Tragically, somewhere along the line – and I’m convinced it was not by chance – in an effort to agree with God about the insidiousness of sin, we’ve lost sight of (or have never been properly taught about) the miracle God performed in our very nature when we were born again. We find it easy to nod an “amen” to any scripture passage that points out the problems Christians will have with sin, but hard to embrace verses that tell us it is the Christian’s nature to produce holiness at face value.

Are you stuck there? I was for a long time, and the devil still regularly tries to drag me back to the certainty that “In me dwelleth no good thing.” But wait, let’s read that in context:

“Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

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

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.” (Rom 7:17-18, 22,23)

Believers, do make certain that you are born in spirit! (If you’re unsure, watch this video – and you’re always welcome to contact me with questions). But if you have been born in spirit through faith in Jesus Christ, God has made a miraculous transformation in the deepest level of your personhood. (2 Cor 5:17) Your “inner man” delights in God’s “law!” But the dichotomy of “two natures,” (not to mention all the false Law keeping doctrines, but that is another topic) has confused many believers about their miraculous new identity in Christ, and as a result we struggle to “enter His gates with thanksgiving in our hearts and his courts with praise.” (Psalm 100:4)

Tragically, as a result of too many bible teachers and too few believers reading the Word for themselves, many Christians continue to think of themselves “according to the flesh” after they have been born again. They believe that their truest self is represented by the “principle at work in their members,” that their true desires are contrary to holiness, even though Romans 7:16-25 says the exact opposite! Yes, those “members” belong to you and you are responsible for them. They haven’t been redeemed yet so you can’t expect them to naturally fall in line with holiness. But you, the real you, has been born again. For you, holiness is happiness! For you, personal purity is your deepest desire. And the supernatural joy and strength you need comes from knowing the love of the incomprehensible, Holy God that dwells in your heart through faith. 

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph 3:14-19)

Are you struggling with regret because of a mistake you made? You’re not alone. We all make mistakes because we don’t know all things. But God’s Word assures that He can use even our mistakes and immature decisions for good if we trust Him. (Rom 8:28) We can boldly come before the throne of grace, (Heb 4:16) repent and lay those burdens at His feet.

Don’t let yourself be bullied by the enemy’s lies about your failings in the flesh anymore. Your Father wants to restore you. (Ps 51:12) The spotless purity of God’s holiness is here for you. Now. So let’s turn off the computer, tablet and smart phone and get alone with Him each and every day. We are immeasurably blessed to have ready access to the throne of Grace, to the Holy Creator; God almighty.

And in the light of His Holiness, His happiness, His joy; the cares and concerns of the world finally fall back into their proper place.


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