A few months ago I did something that most would consider pretty dumb. I ran a railroad crossing while a train was coming. As the lights on the barricades began blinking, I sped up. I honestly had no idea how close the train actually was, but I knew the barricades had not lowered yet. Assuming it must still be a good distance away for the barricade arms to be up, I made a run for it. Problem was as I got close, they did begin to come down. I just did make it to the other side without the barricade coming down on my car and getting hit by the train. I was probably no more than 30-50 yards away heading full-speed towards me. I don’t recall thinking much about the decision, other than knowing I was running late to work and needed to beat that train. To be honest, I’m not sure it was even worth taking the risk because I realized that when I arrived my supervisor had not even gotten to work themselves. This silly decision really made me reflect on the times when I was led by the Holy Spirit and when I allowed the flesh to influence my thoughts. Everything we do on a daily basis has a connection to the struggle of flesh vs. Spirit. In this article I would like to bring your awareness to this battle and its balance in your life. We can all benefit from a self-inventory spiritually on a regular basis. If we are aware of our weaknesses, we can then bring them to God for guidance, prayer, and direction on how to walk in His Spirit in the moments that matter.
The largest barrier to differentiating between the Sprit/flesh is our walk with God or lack thereof. It is for this reason that it is almost impossible for sinners to determine feelings from conviction. What we do know is that God has the ability to convict anyone. He convicted Pharaoh and hardened His heart to keep the Israelites captive just long enough to judge the Egyptians, showing His power. God convicts the unsaved to accept Him as Lord. God convicted Ruth to stay faithful to Him. The Israeli enemies were convicted many times to begin to attack each other, bringing about their own defeat many times. Samson was also overcome with the Spirit of God and slew many Philistines with the jaw bone of a donkey. By now we know conviction is controlled by the Spirit and not by us, but our ability to understand Him lies within our own hands. How we choose to interact with God will determine that ability. Taking time for God in prayer and worship greatly impacts our relationship with Him. The scripture plainly tells us that a sheep knows His shepherd’s voice (John 10:1-6). If you are His follower, you will know His voice and also His conviction. It should be a daily habit to come before God in prayer, study the Word, and be willing to serve in any capacity where led.
Because the heart of man and our relationship with God varies, so does our ability to decipher conviction. Sometimes God chooses to reveal convictions slowly over time, but many situations can be interpreted on the spot. We must ask questions regarding any thoughts or feelings that we may encounter. “Is this conviction of God?” “Does it violate His Word or Law” “Will pursuing this conviction, vision, or feeling bring discord to the relationships in my family?” "Is this a feeling of emotion or a true Godly conviction?" The answers determine whether you will see spiritual breakthroughs or breakdowns. We must always keep in mind that God does not intend to bring division to the family for His children, but sometimes it comes because deceit from the enemy is strong. I can’t recall a time in the Word of God where He called a man and told him to abandon His Spouse. Men such as Abraham and Noah answered God’s callings without the wives being left out. We do see scenarios where one spouse turns their back on God or their family requiring the other to move on without them, such as when Lot’s wife turned to see the city being destroyed (Genesis 19:26). It is for this reason that I believe any conviction or calling of God will rarely bring discord to your family or spouse. If a vision, conviction, or calling is rejected by a spouse it may mean you are a few steps ahead of God by revealing His will. It could be that God has a plan and knows of coming events/circumstances that may change their mind. It may also be that they feel conviction as well, but it brings them pain that God will have to work out. Just know when there is a conflict regarding conviction, we should always take it to God in prayer. Following God will sometimes cost us friends and acquaintances because Jesus warned us that those who follow Him shall suffer also (Philippians 1:29). Those who stick by us, God will bless them for it. Just remember that when you’re not sure what you’re feeling is conviction, always turn to God in prayer and study for the answer. When it seems to not come, keep trying and wait on the Lord. His timing is not like our timing. That answer may be tied to how hard you seek it from Him and it also may require some fasting. Do not be afraid of fasting or fear it to be complicated. Fasting for the purpose of God’s will is how you gain the faith to move mountains. Abstaining from sin allows these other areas of your spiritual walk to be enhanced as there are no hindrances keeping you from obtaining it. Taking these measures will allow you a deeper connection with God and help prevent the consequences of being tricked into bad decisions by the enemy that impact us for life.
There are also much larger situations concerning the war between the Spirit and flesh. Until the final battle between God and evil, there will be that constant source of irritation. Even when we are patient, prayed up, studied up, and fasted up; the enemy will try it’s best to be a nag. However, we must remember that it is only just an irritation. Hell has no authority over a follower of Christ and is therefore already defeated by the Cross of Calvary. When things get difficult and hope seems lost, we have to remember that God has already won. Avoid the pitfalls of quick and thoughtless decisions. Lean on Christ for strength, understanding, authority, power, and guidance. When all answers seem wrong, sit and listen for God’s still voice (Jeremiah 33:3, Revelation 3:20). Somewhere amongst the breeze you will hear Him whisper, “Fear not, for all things are given unto you” (Matthew 6:33, 2 Peter 1:3). Because of the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, we remain victorious through Him. You have heard these truths before: He was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18), ministered to Jew and Gentile(Mark 7:25-30 for gentiles and whole NT for Jews), was reject by His own (John 1:11), accepted by few, was crucified (Matthew 27), lay in the grave dead for three days, and rose again to be with the Holy Father after a short while on earth to be our living sacrifice(1 Corinthians 15:4). During those three days He took the keys to death, Hell, and the grave for all eternity (Revelation 1:18). Because Jesus has the keys, we have the ear and heart of the key master. Why would we ever let the prisoner trick us into giving back the authority won for us on the cross? If we intend to win this battle of Sprit vs. flesh, we must follow the war plans of the General. There are no better odds than a guaranteed victory. And when you make the choice to follow the Spirit and not the flesh, you choose that victory. I pray you have been blessed today and that you are now more equipped to walk according to the Spirit rather than flesh. Thank you for visiting us today and we welcome you back to Salvationscall.org. May God Bless you and keep you, Amen!
John 10:1-6New King James Version (NKJV)
Jesus the True Shepherd
10 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.
Genesis 19:26 (KJV)
26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
Philippians 1:29 (KJV)
29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
Jeremiah 33:3 (KJV)
3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
Revelation 3:20 (KJV)
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Matthew 6:33 (KJV)
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
2 Peter 1:3 (KJV)
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
Revelation 1:18 (KJV)
18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.