A popular revolt riveted the attention of the world on Egypt early this year. In less than a week the outlook of that nation changed dramatically. The raw power of an angry and discontented crowd was displayed as masses of protestors took over police stations in major cities, emptying them of everything that symbolized their authority to maintain law and order in that land.
In nearly every crisis—be it social, political, spiritual, or of some other nature—a power struggle is involved, and in most cases this takes place in spite of attempts to prevent it.
In order to validate their rebellion against the establishment, revolting parties usually contend that an imbalance of some kind hinders their efforts to reach a peaceful resolution. Not only that, but they also do not hesitate to highlight the demerits of the other side—sometimes with respect and other times without it—as a means of advancing their cause.
The Bible speaks of a revolution that is unique in its nature. In Galatians 5:17, the Apostle Paul points out its root cause as being a clash of wills between the Spirit and the flesh, which so immobilizes humans that they cannot do what they want to do.
In modern days, the formation of public opinion about a revolution cannot wait—and it does not have to wait—for articles to be crafted, reviewed, printed, and distributed. We expect news reporters to cover events on the spot and feed us with fresh information for our consumption. People of different persuasions use current and historical facts to influence public opinion about who should do what in resolving the conflict.
The conflict between the Spirit and the flesh, as it is reported in the Word of God, should not wait any longer than the time it takes for one to hear the whisper of the "God of peace" with whom the apostle Paul wants us to be acquainted:
"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thes. 5:23).
The conflict between the Spirit and the flesh takes only one vote to be settled—that of the one whose flesh rebels against the will of God.
Albert Einstein said, "You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war." The same belief in a cause and the determination to win that result in victory for one side during a war between human factions can be duplicated in the hearts of those who must decide whether to prevent or to prepare for war. That same capacity for belief and determination leads a person to victory between the opposing forces of the Spirit and the flesh. What we really desire is the side that gets our support.
In order to make the decision that results in true peace, one needs to realize that the desire of the flesh corrupts, divides, prevaricates, destroys, debilitates, and kills, while that of the Spirit brings wholeness as it restores, corrects, shapes, strengthens, and emancipates. Sin patronizes the desires of our flesh, while God's love provides all we need to seek and follow the desire of the Spirit. Faith in Jesus and His grace-filled work on the Cross is the means by which the desire of the Spirit wins the battle of wills in our hearts.
I cannot be in conflict and peace at the same time.
He won the cause for me and gave me peace. Why would I not want to keep His life-giving peace?
Eugénio R. Duarte is a general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene.
Holiness Today, Jul/Aug 2011
Please note: This article was originally published in 2011. All facts, figures, and titles were accurate to the best of our knowledge at that time but may have since changed.