God’s Timing and Purposes – Ecc. 3:1-8
Pastor Vicky MootsKingman, Kansas
Ecc. 3:8c (continued): “…a time of war…” Besides the spiritual war which we are fighting against Satan and his evil forces in this world, there is another war in which we, as Christians are engaged. It is the war between the two natures within each believer: the new creation and the old creation. Paul tells us in II Cor. 5:17, that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [creation].”
We are given a new life in Christ when we are born again, the very life of Christ in us, but we are still living in a physical body with its fleshly desires. Our new nature is called by Paul, “the new man,” and our old nature, “the old man.” These two are at war with each other.
We can only overcome the desires of the flesh by walking in the Spirit and yielding to the new creation life of Christ in us, the new man, as we are instructed to do in Gal. 5:16: “…Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”
In v. 17, Paul explains that the flesh (our old nature) wars against the Spirit: “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.” The word “lusteth” means “has a strong desire.” In this context it means that the flesh and the Spirit each have a strong desire to suppress each other, as enemies in warfare, and to gain control of the strong hold, which is our body.
The apostle Paul described his own struggle in this warfare, in Rom. 7:18-24, before he learned the way of victory in Christ: “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. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me [the sinful old nature]. I find then a law [principle], that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man [the new nature]: 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. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body this death?” But, praise God, the battle doesn’t end there. Paul then proclaims the way to victory in v. 25: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord…” But how do we actually claim that victory for ourselves?
Let me answer that question by using an example in the Old Testament of twin births of Jacob and Esau, which gives us a spiritual picture of the battle of the two natures within us. Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, became uncomfortable during her pregnancy, and so she went to the Lord to ask the reason why. She was apparently not aware that she was carrying twins. We find this recorded in Gen. 25:22-23: “And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.”
We see that Rebekah went to the Lord regarding her struggle, as did Paul, and so should we, for only He has the answer. The struggle between Jacob and Esau in the womb is a type of the two creations who are at war within us; “the new man” and “the old man.” God told Rebekah that the elder would serve the younger, but the elder (the “old man,” our flesh) rebels against serving the younger (the “new man”).
Before we can have victory over our flesh and its desires, we must first agree with God that “the elder shall serve the younger: that we are not to be enslaved to the desires of the flesh, the “old man.” In Rom. 6:6 Paul tells us something important to know regarding this: “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him [Christ], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” This is a provisional fact, but we must accept it by faith to make it a reality in our lives.
Paul stated his assurance of that fact for himself, in Gal. 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…”
Paul admonishes us to also accept that fact to be true for us personally, in Rom. 6:11-13: “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 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.”
Yes, we are in “a time of war,” in combat with our old nature, but we can have the victory when we, like Paul, reckon our “old man” to be dead, to be crucified with Christ; and therefore he has not authority over us, and yield instead to the resurrected life of Christ in us, so that it is no longer “I, but Christ that liveth in me.”
Don’t keep feeding the “old man;” let the enemy starve. Don’t keep trying to resuscitate him. Make him a “DNR.” Instead, feed the “new man;” feed on the Word of God daily instead of the things of the world. Our way of victory is in Christ alone.