The nature of war

“Romans 7:21-25 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. “(NIV)

Granted, this is an English translation, not original Greek, and I’m no expert in hermeneutics or exegesis, but it seems to me that what’s involved here aren’t beings but principles. You might even say “natural law,” albeit behavioral rather than physical.

I’m not about to deny the existence of angels or demons. They’re spoken of clearly elsewhere in Scripture. But I do wonder if this passage doesn’t change the way one thinks about “spiritual warfare.” Is it less like two Jedis in a light saber dual and more like tension between gravity and momentum?

Three things I know; one is that a more wholistic view of nature would help dispel what Paul Tillich called “the great falsehood” of duality where God & Satan are somehow equal rivals. This is a Platonic perception, not a Judaeo/Christian one anyway. Wouldn’t it be great if we stopped thinking of things as “supernatural,” and just assumed that even angels & demons were “natural?” Then we’d get it when C.S.Lewis tells us that we don’t have a soul, we ARE a soul, we HAVE a body.

The other two things I know are that I can’t win the war between my sinful and spiritual natures, and I don’t have to. Jesus work on the cross won it for me. It’s pretty powerful when you consider that when Paul writes about the “spiritual nature,” he doesn’t mean some spooky spiritual realm- he means THE Holy Spirit. God Himself as the third member of the Trinity. THAT is who does battles for us. That’s why, while I still want revenge, pleasure, self indulgence, etc. in my flesh, I also want to know God, please God, and serve God because HE is working in me to harvest good fruit like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and even self control. (Galatians 5, & 2 Timothy 1:7 “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”)

I’m no trained theologian, but from my humble layperson’s perspective, this is pretty cool. “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”


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