2 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
We live, torn in two by a continual war. Our flesh life fights constantly with the spirit life in us. God, in his infinite wisdom, allows us to pursue either our flesh life or our spirit life at any given time. When we pursue the flesh life, we lose the battle and we cause destruction. When we pursue God in us, He rewards us, drawing close to us, and thus, we win some battles. The outcome of the entire war is of course, fixed. In Jesus Christ, we are eternally saved and when our flesh finally gives up the war, we will be made whole and complete. For now however, we live in a constant state of conflict with our own nature.
I have understood this war best in the metaphor of an escalator that I live on. With the beautiful spirit life at the top and the destructive flesh life at the bottom, I live on the escalator, which is constantly moving down. I need to continually move up towards the spirit life. I will never do it perfectly, but if I pursue the spirit daily, I can reap life. I can live much nearer the top than if I pursue the flesh daily. It is when I stop pursuing God that the gravity of the flesh inevitably starts to pull me down.
We can, and many sadly do, live at the bottom of the escalator, stuck in the mire of the flesh life, losing every battle. I think many of us have found ourselves here. We believe in that life at the top and we are eternally saved, but we have pursued our own desires so often that we seem to be chained to the bottom. Our addiction to drugs, porn, pride, anger, bitterness, envy, malice, self-image or food has been overwhelming and paralyzing.
Why am I not delivered from the gravity of this flesh? I have often desired a once-for-all solution. I have wished that God deliver me from my flesh nature permanently. He of course, in the spirit life, has delivered me from the eternal consequences of my destruction, but it is only in death that will I be finally delivered from the gravity of this flesh nature.
I can however, be delivered daily, if I pursue Christ daily. It is in doing whatever it takes to continually move up the escalator that I live in a state of deliverance from my flesh. I need not live enslaved to my flesh nature, but it is mine to daily pursue Christ in me. I am delivered daily as long as I keep pursuing the spirit life instead of the flesh life.
I live today in freedom from temptation to take drugs. This is just not a struggle for me now. The error in that would be to claim that I am delivered once-for-all from that struggle. I have been delivered. I am fixed. I no longer have to worry about that and I no longer have to work on my flesh defects. I can rest now. It is at that point that I will start descending the escalator.
I know that if I stopped pursuing the spirit life, I would automatically start moving towards the flesh life and I could easily return to that destruction. So today, I will pursue Christ in me, leaving behind self. Tomorrow, I will do the same.