The harmonizing of our spirit and our flesh is possible only through faith in Messiah.
- Matthew 6:7-8 – “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
If it’s true that God knows what we need before we ask him, then why would it still be necessary to ask him? Why pray at all if God knows our hearts better than we know ourselves? After all, the apostle Paul described how the Spirit of God recognizes the deepest needs of believers’ hearts as our spirits within us provide a type of intercession before we can even form the words in our reasoning.
- Romans 8:26-27 – In the same way the spirit also helps us in our weakness; for we do not know what prayers to offer nor in what way to offer them. But the same spirit pleads for us in yearnings that can find no words, and the Searcher of hearts knows what the spirit’s meaning is, because it’s intercessions for God’s people are in harmony with God’s will.
Some believe this intercession is the work of God’s Spirit and not our own, however, the context of Paul’s teaching in this passage has already set how God’s Spirit is a secondary witness to our own spirits within us that we are God’s children.
- Romans 8:15-16 – But you have acquired a deep inward conviction of having been adopted as sons–a conviction which prompts us to cry aloud, “Abba! our Father!” The Spirit Himself bears witness, along with our own spirits, to the fact that we are children of God…
This would lead me to conclude that our inner “new” man, being regenerated by the power of God, has the ability to communicate spiritually with the Spirit of God himself in ways that we may not always fully or consciously comprehend. If this is true, then our verbal communication with God in prayer is only part of what is being conveyed, and a whole undercurrent of information is passing between ourselves and God without us fully recognizing what that is. All we know from this passage is that whatever that information is, it is in alignment with the will of God. Therefore, our verbal communication with God should also be in alignment with God’s will to balance our position before him in faith and trust. Perhaps some of our stress in this life comes when we act in contrary ways to God’s will and our spiritual stance becomes unbalanced.
I believe the Bible teaches we are psychosomatic beings: unified spirits and bodies, molded together as one complete unit in God’s image while we live this life. This differs from the generally accepted view that we are merely spirits living within a corrupted physical body which only houses our spirits in a generally disconnected way. Because of the unified status of spirit and body we are encouraged to ensure our fleshly impulses and conscious thinking is directed toward God’s kingdom at all times, because this unity of spirit and body is what allows us to accomplish God’s will in the reality in which we currently live.
Even though our spirits may be aligned with God’s will through regeneration by faith in Messiah, when we don’t reign in our conscious thinking from worldly impulses, our flesh veers into areas it should not go. This is how Paul illustrated the condition of someone who accepts and acts on those impulses of what he calls death, instead of acting on the life of the word of God:
- Romans 7:22-25 – For in my inmost self all my sympathy is with the law of God; but I discover within me another law in my limbs at war with the law of my intellect, and making me captive to the law of sin existing in my limbs. (Afflicted man that I am! who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Yeshua Messiah our Lord!) Therefore, then, I myself with my intellect am in servitude to the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
From this passage has grown the concept of the dichotomy of spirit and flesh, but what Paul appears to be teaching in context is quite the opposite. Whatever the spirit of man desires according to the law of God may be “at war with the flesh,” but the flesh will follow the spirit that is directed appropriately toward God’s will. This demonstrates a unity, not a further dichotomy.
I have illustrated my thinking for your consideration in the following passage by enclosing the clarifying points in brackets.
- Romans 8:1-9 – There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Messiah Yeshua. For the law of the spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua made me free from the law of sin and of death [in my flesh]. For the law [of sin] being incapable, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned [the law of] sin in the flesh: that the ordinance of the law [of God] might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. For they that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the spirit the things of the spirit. For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the spirit is life and peace: because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be: and they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in flesh but in spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. But if any man has not the spirit of Messiah, he is none of his.
When we consciously act on faith and trust in God’s word, we are, according to Paul, living “according to the things of the spirit” which is in harmony with God’s law, God’s will. Our flesh must comply, because we are a unified whole which Messiah has freed from the war with the law of sin and death in our flesh. Living by faith in this way, we have the ability to accomplish God’s will which is our purpose in this life, and he can be glorified and magnified through our faithful actions.
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