4. Chapter Four – The Conflict & The Victory

By Vincent C. Finnegan

With the understanding of the two Adams and of the two natures that are within each child of God, we are ready to study the conflict and victory. We have both of these natures which are contrary one to the other and in constant conflict.

Galatians 5:17: 
For the flesh [old nature] lusteth against the Spirit [new nature], and the Spirit [new nature] against the flesh[old nature]: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

There we have the two of them, the spirit and the flesh, and they are antagonistic to each other. The flesh desires to have dominance in our lives, and so does the spirit. The conflict takes place in our minds. The believer’s freewill decision determines which one rules. Paul describes the conflict of the two natures in detail in Romans.

Romans 7:14 and 15:
For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

The things he did were not really that which he wanted to do. Those things he did want to do, he did not do. He said that which I hate is what I do.

Romans 7: 16: 
If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

He had this dilemma because he had the two natures. The old nature hindered him from living the new nature. Without an understanding of the two Adams and the two natures, one could read this and think Paul was crazy or had a split personality. Perhaps at times you have thought maybe you were crazy because this same dichotomy was being manifested in your life. Well, Paul may have been writing in the first person, but this is God’s revelation for all Christians. We all have the same conflict Paul expressed here.

Have you ever wondered why you can be moving along with the things of God, and seemingly out of nowhere, you get a horrendous thought followed by the same ungodly action which was common to you before you became a Christian? Perhaps you have even condemned yourself thinking “after all this time with God, and I still think and behave like I did before I was saved! When will this end!” Well, guess what? The old man nature does not change, nor does it go away permanently until Christ returns.

The old man nature is really something! It lingers in the shadows of your mind and waits for the opportunity to rear its ugly head and take over your life again. The old man nature, that sin nature, just never changes. It is always the same. When you fail to put on the new nature, the old begins to reign again.

Romans 7:17:
Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

Paul so believed all that Christ accomplished for him, he identified himself with the new nature only: “it is no more I that do it.” The old man nature is spiritually dead. As Christians our real man, our true identity, is in the new man. Paul knew the problem was the sin nature that still dwelled in him. This is not to say Paul was relinquishing his responsibility for his actions. If any man ever took full responsibility for his life, it was Paul. The verse is stating that he understood that the sin nature was the cause of the problem, and the real man was the Christ within.

Romans 7:18:
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.

The desire to walk entirely by the new man was present with him, but because of the sin nature he could not work out that which was good.

Romans 7:19:
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

How we can all relate to this truth! Without a knowledge of these matters, no wonder so many live in sin-consciousness and condemnation. With this knowledge, we need not fall into that devilish type of thinking.

Romans 7:20:
Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

Once again, we see Paul’s identification with the new nature and his understanding of the effects of the old nature. With this understanding, Paul was able to live with himself. So can we. The sin nature, which is evil, is the cause of all the sin in our lives.

Romans 7:21:
I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

Why is evil present with him? Because of the sin nature.

Romans 7:22:
For I delight in the law of God after the inward man.

The inward man, the Christ within, the one with whom he was identified, delighted in the law of God.

Romans 7:23:
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.

A war is being waged in our minds, the battle of the two natures, and we hold the deciding vote. When we put on God’s Word and believe accordingly, we win the battle; and when we do not, we do not win. This is the conflict of our lives. You may not like it, but the reality remains unchanged. You may say, “I don’t want to fight.” Then do not fight, but the conflict is still there, and you will lose. Would it not be better to learn to enjoy the fight and win?

Romans 7:24:
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

A number of forms of capital punishment were used at the time Paul lived. The worst form was that which Paul spoke of figuratively when he said, “who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” A dead body would be brought in and put on the floor. Then the condemned prisoner was chained at the hands and feet to the body. The prisoner would stay chained to this dead body until he himself died. Paul used this graphic illustration to explain the old man nature with which he contended. The question was “who shall deliver me?” The answer is found in the next verse.

Romans 7:25:
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord….

The body of this death (the old nature) is far too big for us to handle on our own. We need God’s help! We dare not think for one moment we can be successful in this war without His constant involvement in our lives.

We can manifest deliverance daily as we focus on our God. When Christ returns we will have complete liberty from this dead body. Until such time, we keep our eyes on God through Jesus Christ our Lord and renew our minds to the new man.

Romans 7:25:
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Without the understanding of the two natures, believers are prone to endless frustration and defeat because they try to change the old into the new. This cannot be done. The old nature does not change. You cannot change the old nature, but you can change your life by putting on the new. If we understand that we have these two side by side in us, then when the old surfaces, we can acknowledge it is the sin nature. Thereby we can avoid the sin- consciousness and condemnation so common to most Christians.

No matter how the war is going in your life, Romans 8:1 is eternally true.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.

Perhaps the following illustration will help you to understand the conflict and how to claim the victory.

There was a kingdom, and in this kingdom was a very evil, wicked king. Everything he did was evil. No good thing was found in him. All his rulings, all his dealings, and everything that he carried out in his kingdom were nothing but evil. Then one day, the old, evil king was dethroned. He no longer had authority to reign. A new king was put in charge. The new king was righteous. All of his actions were right and only perfect. All of his dealings were just, righteous, and good.

However, the old king was still around. The decision was made to put the old king to death. He was judged. He was found guilty. He was condemned to death, but, as of yet, final execution had not taken place. So, he just sort of lingered around in the shadows. As long as the new king was on the throne, everything was great. All of the rulings, all of the dealings with the new king were abundant.

Then one day, the new king left his throne and went out into one of the provinces. As soon as he left the throne, the old king, even though he did not have the authority, ran right back and jumped on the throne and started ruling in the new king’s stead. Everybody in the kingdom had already been accustomed to being in subjection to the old king, and everybody was obedient to him. The people never questioned his authority, even though he did not legally have any authority. Because the new king was absent from the throne, the old king began to rule, and then evil again came about. All of the wrong dealings, all of the imperfections, everything else ensued just as before, because the evil king was present.

Then, the new king, once he came back and found out that the old king was on the throne, threw him off and took his own rightful place, which he had the authority to do. The new king took control, and then everything was right. As long as the new king was on the throne, the old king was not. He could have no impact and influence on the kingdom. But, when the new king stepped off of the throne, automatically the old king went right back on.

Likewise is the reigning of our old man and new man nature. As long as the new nature is reigning in our minds (the throne), the old has no influence. But, if we do not allow the new nature to rule or to reign in our minds, then the old nature will reign. Automatically it will take back over, and then we will have problems. The old nature does not have the legal authority to reign because it was defeated in Christ. Since Christ has not yet returned the old nature has not been totally eliminated, and still has its influence.

As long as the new is on the throne, the old has no influence and no impact. Thus to win the conflict, to be victorious, we need to reckon the old dead and the new alive.

Romans 6:5-9:
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his [Christ’s] death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man is [was] crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

The old nature is spiritually dead, and the new spiritually alive. To manifest this reality in our lives we must control our minds.

Romans 6:10 and 11:
For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise, reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The very first instruction that God gives us in this doctrinal epistle, which is the first of the seven Church Epistles, is to reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin. Because we have this conflict, these two natures in us, our responsibility is to reckon the old dead and the new alive through Jesus Christ our lord. We have to reckon it.

Romans 6:12-14:
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion [lordship] over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

You do not allow that old nature, or that old king, to get back on the throne of your mind. You put on the new man, and let it be king on the throne of your mind. The old nature is already spiritually dead in Christ. Yet, even though dead, it will at times try to usurp its authority and to take dominion over our lives. If we allow that to happen we are just miserable. The way not to allow this to happen is to have the new man reign.

Galatians 2:20: 
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Look at the identification Paul had in his renewed mind. “I am crucified with Christ,” is talking about the old nature. “Never-theless I live” refers to the new nature. This was his renewed-mind declaration. The old nature and the things of that nature died. That which lives is Christ. We have to make that change in our minds by putting on the mind of Christ.

Romans 13:14:
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

The way we eliminate the influence of the old sin nature is to put on the new. As long as the mind is filled with the Lord Jesus Christ, the new man is sitting on the throne. The old man has no room to get on the throne; there is no provision for the flesh. When we put the Word of God in our minds, then Christ does reign.

Galatians 5:16:
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit [the new nature], and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh [the old nature].

The word “in” should be translated “by means of.” Therefore, the verse would read: “walk by means of the spirit [the new nature], and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh [the old nature].” The key to victory is clearly and simply stated in this one verse. When we walk by the spirit, the new nature, we are not walking by the flesh. To walk by the spirit means to put God’s Word in the mind and live accordingly. When we walk by the Word of God, then the flesh will not have any influence in our lives.

Please note carefully that which follows because this misconception of the simple truth is the root of all fleshly religion. This verse does not say: do not fulfill the lust of the flesh, then you can walk by the spirit.

Far too many try to discipline the flesh to become spiritual. You cannot rule the unruly. The flesh cannot be changed. The instruction is to walk by the new, and automatically the old becomes inoperative. To interpret this verse in reverse will get a totally negative result – sin consequences, guilt, condemnation, and failure. Put on the new nature, and the old has no room.

Walking in the newness of life is not a matter of “stop doing this” or “stop doing that.” The issue is to walk by means of the spirit. God does not tell us to quit this and quit that. He does tell us that by putting on the new, the old influences will stop. When the lights are turned on, the darkness disappears. Dwell on the darkness, and it only seems to get darker. The right application of this verse is based on positive action.

Colossians 2:20-22:
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the command-ments and doctrines of men?

The commandments and doctrines of men (like touch not, taste not, handle not) are what many do, not understanding the two natures. These man-made regulations are designed to discipline the flesh to become spiritual. Impossible! So many religions are centered on trying to change the flesh, ignoring the simple truth of God’s Word: WALK BY THE SPIRIT AND YOU SHALL NOT FULFIL THE LUST OF THE FLESH. The commandments and doctrines of men are useless, although they may give an appearance of being right.

Colossians 2:23:
Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

These things appear to have wisdom. They look good. They have a facade of humility, by the neglecting of the body and the other things they try to do to the flesh, but “not in any honour [value] to the satisfying of the flesh” because you cannot change the flesh. All the religions in the world with their rules and regulations cannot change the flesh. These things are what we are not supposed to do. What we are supposed to do is in chapter 3.

Colossians 3:1:
If [Since] ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

We do not want to get all involved in trying to change the unchangeable and discipline that which will not be disciplined. What we want to do is to renew our minds to the Word of God and to seek those things which are above. When we put our minds on the things that are above, the influences of the flesh will have no effect on us. They will not rule.

Colossians 3:2: 
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

When we have our affections, our thoughts, on things above, the new man rules. Then our relationship with God is sweet, and we are joyful. The way we put off the old is by putting on the new.

Colossians 3:3:
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

What is dead? The former association with Adam, the old man nature, is dead. Our lives are hid with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:4 and 5: 
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupis-cence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

The way that we mortify them is by putting on the new. Fornication, uncleanness, etc. will not stop by our focusing on them. We never rid ourselves of these sins by trying to get rid of them, but rather by putting on the new. A scripture in Ephesians illustrates this truth.

Ephesians 5:18:
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.

We hear people talk about the influence of alcoholism in their lives and how they endeavor to eliminate it. This verse of scripture tells exactly how to eliminate this influence in life; it is also an example of how to eliminate other sins. The way to stop being drunk with wine is to be filled with the spirit. When your mind is filled with spiritual matters it has no room to get drunk. The way to stop sinning is to start doing God’s Word.

Ephesians 4:22-24:
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

The way that you put off the old man is to put on the new man. You do not put off the old so that you can put on the new. One is dealing with the sin, the other is dealing with the light. One is dealing with the negative — “I have to stop doing this, I have to stop doing that, I have to discipline myself to do this.” No, no, no! You will be in condemnation a lifetime. The way to be victorious in the conflict is to allow the new man to reign.

Throughout the Church Epistles, God clearly shows us the works of the flesh and, in contrast, the fruit of the spirit. Without this knowledge we would have difficulty knowing when we were walking by the flesh or by the spirit. The Word of God gives the precise standard by which to walk, and cautions us not to compare ourselves to ourselves or others. We definitely do not want to use our opinion or other people’s lives as the standard for walking with God.

II Corinthians 10:12:
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

We have studied Galatians 5 previously, but now we will consider the standard given for walking by the spirit. The beginning part of the chapter communicates the error in living by the law. Legalistic living is not the answer for walking by the spirit. The other extreme to religious legalistic living is using our liberty for a license to sin. Neither is right. The focus must be on walking by the spirit (new man) which is done by adhering to the Word of God and walking in love.

Galatians 5:13-21:
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like…

The following is an explanation of the words not commonly understood today. Those definitions are not offered as a comprehensive work, rather a brief explanation as used here in Galatians. The same English words are used elsewhere in the Scriptures, but may be translated from a different Greek word; therefore, the meanings may vary. To attain an accurate definition for each occurrence, one must check a critical lexicon and concordance.10

Adultery — not in most critical Greek texts, nor in the Aramaic.

Fornication — today’s meaning is to have voluntary sexual intercourse between unmarried persons. However, fornication is often used in Scripture regarding spiritual fornication, whoring after other gods. This is most probably its use here because other words in this listing deal with sexual behavior.

Uncleanness — the opposite of pure. Matthew 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”

Lasciviousness — a broad range of unbridled passions including greed, drunkenness, debauchery, as well as sexual lust. Also may include an insolent pride about being free from the restraints of personal conscience or public opinion. No sense of shame.

Idolatry — worship of idols.

Witchcraft — translated sorceries in Revelation 9:21; 18:23.

Variance — quarrel, strive, contentions, word wrangling, disputation.

Emulations — jealous rivalry which makes war upon the good it sees in another, thus troubling that good and/or diminishing it.

Wrath — an outburst of anger.

Strife — represents a motive of self-interest, mercenary interest. Canvassing which causes faction. To arouse the interest, desire, or curiosity in others which causes division. This Greek word is used of those electioneering for office.

Seditions — standing apart, dissention, schism.

Heresies — one’s opinion contrary to the truth, leading to a communication of these opinions causing others to choose sides.

Envyings — jealousy, pain felt, and malicious behavior conceived at the sight of excellence or happiness in others.

Revellings — riotous conduct, festivities in honor of several gods, especially Bacchus, the god of wine; drinking parties.

To acknowledge these things as the works or acts of the old nature is very important. The deception we often face is thinking the cause of these acts are due to others’ influences, circumstances, or situations. Regardless of how right we may think we are, if we allow strife, seditions, heresies, etc. in our lives, we are walking by the flesh.

The fruit of walking by the new nature is then listed.

Galatians 5:22 and 23:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

These things are manifested in our lives as we walk by the spirit. This gives us a brief measuring to determine how we are walking. A more comprehensive study of the Church Epistles will bring even more clarity.

Romans 8 provides information to consider at the conclusion of this introductory study of the two natures.

Romans 8:31:
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

As we endeavor to walk in the newness of life, by the new nature, we always want to remember our God is present with us to help. Indeed, we need His help. We certainly do not want to try to walk on our own. We can be confident as we ask for His help it will be there.

Romans 8:32-35:
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

The conflict we face is very challenging, but it is not ours to do on our own. Earlier we read about the Apostle Paul and his description of the struggle. Remember, he was a man that walked and talked with God. He had a very personal, intimate relationship with God and manifested great power in his life. Likewise can we. Paul’s life was not without challenges. Neither is ours, but nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. We need not be burdened down with sin-consciousness, guilt, and condemnation. Our God never views us this way. Sure, we will fall short at times in this renewed mind walk. Just as Paul did, we should quickly ask God for forgiveness and His help, and get right back to walking by the new nature. Self-evaluation, doubt, condemnation, etc. are a waste of time. Just get back up and walk by the new nature.

Romans 8:36-39:
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We are more than conquerors. Let us reckon it so.