The World, the Flesh, and the Devil
When we looked at Galatians 5:16-17 we spoke about the flesh. But it is more than simply the flesh that threatens to undo us in this life. Ephesians 2:1-3 speaks of the trifecta of difficulty we face in sanctification.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Every person on this planet battles these three forces that are mentioned in Ephesians 2. The world, the flesh, and the devil. Before we were Christians these three things controlled us—as they do all of mankind.
We live in a sinful world that is clear even to the casual observer that it is not the way it should be. There is sickness, famine, disease, war. There is the flesh, which we talked about last week which refers to our sinful nature that is naturally drawn towards self and sin and away from God. And there is the devil, the evil one, Satan, who wants to do all he can to spread lies about God and his plan of salvation in Jesus.
What Paul has been combating in the book of Galatians is the false teaching that has Christianity relying on the flesh, not the Spirit. Back in Galatians 3:2-3 Paul wrote,
2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
We have a relationship with God through the Spirit of God. It is impossible for Christianity to be based on our flesh and our works because the flesh is opposed to the Spirit, and in order to be born again the Spirit must be involved. To rely on the flesh undoes the reason why Jesus came to defeat sin and death and to stand in heaven on our behalf. In order to defeat death you have to be able to go beyond the grave and back— a trip we can’t make in our own effort or works.
Jesus comes into the world, in order to help us live for him in the world. Jesus came in the flesh to obey so that we could live not as slaves to our flesh. Jesus conquered the devil by defeating death and showing he holds the keys to life and death.
Though the world, the flesh, and the devil would seek to undo us, we have a victorious Savior who has severed their power and dominion. We fight againt their presence by the power of the Spirit who now dwells within us.