“For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.”
—Romans 7:18-19 (NRSV)
The world has named the flesh, the ego. I guess it doesn’t matter what we call it, but we should name it for what it is. It is that thing, impelled by fear, which drives us to achieve—goals, status, privilege, etc. When we are threatened by the competitive spirit of others it is our flesh that speaks through our annoyance. When we have lost power, authority, our dominions, our egos are crushed.
There is loss and there is loss. To lose someone dear to us is different to losing power, authority, or control. Whenever we lose someone dear to us, or a marriage, or a career, we go down into an abyss of grief, according to the depth of our loss.
But when we lose control in this world, with our egos shrieking, we rail against those things that have occurred. Rarely do we surrender within the moment humbly, meekly.
In Defeat of the Flesh
There is only one way to sustainably defeat the flesh: we melt the ego in the situational perfection of love, which we can only achieve through the sponsorship of the Holy Spirit.
Differentiating complaints is a big test. Some complaints are ingeniously authentic; they are based out of rampant injustice, for instance, loss we could not have induced. Other complaints, however, which are worldlier in basis, reveal our sore and sorry egos.
When we are warring with the flesh within, we rally with love in defeat of the flesh.
What this looks like is a joyful surrender. We could laugh at our flesh. We could also respect it, whilst moving on in love. Many times the defeat of the flesh will involve humiliation on one level—but it’s only humiliation when our egos are still involved.
We know that love drives us when we can still be joyful as things are going against our otherwise self-willed agendas.
When love inspires us we are happy to become nothing in order that God’s glory may become everything. We don’t enforce a single thing by our self will, but we work for truth despite the personal cost. Such love requires courage, discipline, and devotion to the Lord.
When love inspires us we actively work in the Kingdom without thought for credit so the grace of God may be magnified. We carry within our bodies the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible through our labours of love (2 Corinthians 4:10).
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.