THE REASON FOR THE STRUGGLE
Faith brings the capacity for reciprocity with heaven. This is described in various ways in Scripture. It is being "called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor. 1:9). It is also referred to as "the communion of the Holy Spirit" (2 Cor. 13:14), and being "joined to the Lord" (1 Cor. 6:17). This is "eternal life," which consists of the spiritual knowledge of "the only true God, and Jesus Christ" Whom He has sent (John 17:3; 1 John 5:20).
New Life Introduced
The introduction of this new life is glorious. We have become "partakers of the Divine nature" (2 Pet. 1:4), as well as "partakers of Christ" (Heb. 3:14). God has "sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts" (Gal. 4:6), as a pledge of future glory. Our personal involvement in the process is set forth in the new covenant promise, "I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them" (Heb. 10:16). This describes a very real inclination toward, and preference for, the will of God. The absence of this in much of the religion of our day is cause for great alarm.
From within, "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Rom. 5:5). Thus are we empowered to love God with all of the heart, soul, mind, and strength, fulfilling the law of God (Matt. 22:37). This inward work results in the possession of a "sound mind," capable of distinguishing both good and evil (2 Tim. 1:7).
The new birth is not a metaphor, as some would have us believe. An actual transformation has taken place. We have been united with Christ, and are now indwelt by Deity (John 14:34; Rom. 8:9,11; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph. 2:17). However, our rebirth did not eradicate the old nature. It will remain with us until we are "absent from the body" (2 Cor. 5:6-9).
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17). This does not mean that the old nature has passed away--it has not! The capacity to sin remains with us. The person in Christ still is tempted, "drawn away of his own lust, and enticed" (James 1:14). Old things "have passed away" in that they are no longer loved and preferred. We are being oriented for heaven, where "no unclean thing" can enter (Eph. 5:5). From this perspective, conflict within may be viewed from two perspectives. First, Satan is attempting to remove our appetite for spiritual things, and increase our appetite for the passing things of this world. Second, the Holy Spirit is culturing an penchant for things that are eternal. This will allow us to make the transition to glory without any trauma. God does not intend our induction into eternity to be abrasive.
"All things" have become "new" due to spiritual perspective and appetite. We are looking for "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Pet. 3:13-14). That prospect has made everything "new." yet, while we occupy the realm of sense and time, proclivities to evil remain in us. We are not content with this condition. Its presence accounts for all of our setbacks, shortcoming, and insensitivities.
The reason for the struggle is the introduction of heavenly life! As soon as the "new" came, the first was made "old." This is the principle revealed in the old and new covenants (Heb. 8:13). It is not only true of the covenants, it is also true of man's nature. Our Adamic nature become "old" when we "received" Christ (John 1:12) and the "Spirit of adoption" (Rom. 8:15). At this point, the conflict began! The Divine life, now in "the sons of God" (1 John 3:1) requires the crucifixion of "that which is born of flesh" (John 3:6). Though crucified, however, the "flesh" remains adamant and expressive, like the impenitent thief with whom Jesus was crucified (Luke 23:29). Unlike the penitent thief, however, the flesh cannot and will not change (Luke 23:40-42).