Friday, May 13, 2011

Five Minutes Daily with Luther - May 13

(Reprinted with permission from Five Minutes Daily with Luther: Daily Lessons from the Writings of Martin Luther, by John Theodore Mueller.)

For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.Galatians 5:17.

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When Paul says that the flesh sets it desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, he admonishes us so that we might sense the concupiscence of the flesh, that is to say, not only carnal lust, but also pride, wrath, heaviness, impatience, incredulity, and the like. Even though he would have us sense them, he would not have us consent to them, nor accomplish them; that is, that we neither think, speak, nor do those things which the flesh provokes in us. For example, if it moves us to anger, then we should be angry in this manner, as we are taught in the fourth Psalm, so that we do not sin. As if Paul would say: I know that the flesh will provoke you to wrath, envy, doubting, incredulity, and such; but resist it by the Spirit, that you do not sin. But if you forsake the guiding of the Spirit, and follow the flesh, you shall fulfill the lusts of the flesh, and you shall die. So here Paul is speaking not only of the lusts of the flesh, but of the whole kingdom of sin. These two leaders, says Paul, the flesh and the Spirit, are set one against another in your body, so that you cannot do what you please. Paul speaks these words to the believing Christians, who have been justified, renewed, and have full forgiveness of sins. Yet notwithstanding, he says that the flesh rebels against the Spirit in them. In the same way he speaks of himself in the seventh chapter of Romans: “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.” But this must be our anchor-hold, that Christ is our only and perfect righteousness.
Thy grace first made me feel my sin,
It taught me to believe;
Then, in believing, peace I found,
And now I live, I live!

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