Question: How can we overcome the “warring” between the natural man and our righteous desires?
Answer: “Our lives consist of this act and that act, this experience and that, one accomplishment after another. But if we are to accomplish the great purpose of our earth life, we must have power to resist the forces of the evil one; we must overcome the weaknesses of the flesh; we must distinguish between the physical desires and the spiritual strength...” (Joseph Anderson)
Romans 7:22-25 (Teachings of Paul)
22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
Note: I find that when I was living strictly according to the Law of Moses, focusing so intently on outward appearances, it still allowed me to be evil while appearing good. Now, I find delight in living the gospel of Christ which focuses on cleansing the inner man.)
23 But I see another law (JST “And now I see another law, even the commandment of Christ, and it is imprinted in my mind.”) in my members (eyes, ears, tongue, hands, feet--which can get us into temptation and trouble), warring against the law of my mind (JST “But my members are warring against the law of my mind”), and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Note: In other words, the gospel of Christ is now firmly imprinted in my mind. I want to live true to it, but my weaknesses, imperfections, sins, etc. still make war against the righteous intent of my mind.
24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
(JST “And if I subdue not the sin which is in me [if I do not control my tendencies to commit sin], but with the flesh, serve the law of sin [but give in to my mortal weaknesses]; O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death [from the sins and temptations of mortality which could lead me to spiritual death]?”)
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (JST “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord, then, that so with the mind, I myself serve the law of God.)
Note: I rejoice in thanksgiving to the Father, that because of Christ and his Atonement, the desire of my mind to be righteous can be fulfilled as I serve and follow Christ’s gospel.
* * * * *
Elder Joseph Anderson
It would seem of the utmost importance that thinking people everywhere should conscientiously reflect upon their spiritual assets. Man is a dual being, spiritual and physical. Whether it be an individual or a nation, he or it cannot achieve permanent success or happiness without spirituality. Paul said: “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Rom. 8:6.)
There is a constant battle between the things of the flesh and the things of God—the desire for peace and the attractions of the flesh. It is also a well-known fact that in times of prosperity man is often tempted to forget God, but in days of trial and sorrow he prays unto the Lord that his countenance may smile upon him and that the Lord will remember him in the days of his affliction. This pertains to peoples as well as individuals.
The world needs today a return to the outmoded standards of character. We need to return to a faith in God and a determination to serve him...We are living in an important time in the history of mankind and in the history of the Church. People are confused. There was a time when they were willing to accept the word of their ministers and religious advisers, but that time is changing. Regretfully, some ministers of religion are as confused as are the members of their flocks, and, among other mistaken ideas, have come out against the Ten Commandments, declaring that they are out of date and irrelevant to modern society...
We are living in a time of unrest, or fear, in many respects...We cannot expect permanent peace, nor will it come until such time as the hearts of men are turned to peace, and men will not have peace in their hearts until they no longer permit selfishness to be their ruling power. Until men recognize God as the ruler of the universe and his Son Jesus Christ to be the Savior and Redeemer of the world, Satan will reign in the hearts of men. Man must love God and his neighbor as himself...
The following is an excerpt from President McKay’s remarks at the Christmas program in the Church Office Building, December 22, 1961:
“Jesus taught that God-like character is not a thing of favor or chance, it is a natural result of continued effort and right thinking, the effect of long cherished association with God-like thoughts. … That man is not at peace who is untrue to the whisperings of Christ and the promptings of his conscience. He cannot be at peace when he is untrue to his better self, when he transgresses the law of righteousness in any way, either in dealing with himself or indulging his passions, his appetites, yielding in any way to the temptations of the flesh, or whether he is untrue to a trust imposed upon him, transgressing the law of righteousness in dealing with his fellowmen. Peace does not come to the transgressor of law; peace comes by obedience to law, and it is that message which Jesus would have us portray among men. Peace is to the individual that he may be at peace with his God, perfect harmony existing between himself and law, the righteous laws to which he is subject and from which he can never escape. … Life is a struggle, really a struggle to gain mastery over these tendencies, the animal part of our being.”
No one can have complete peace in his heart who shuts out of his heart and soul, by harboring immoral thoughts or indulging in improper conduct, those thoughts and actions that pertain to a godlike life. By neglecting to give heed to the will of God as revealed through the prophets of the Lord, by succumbing to the wiles of the adversary and indulging in unrighteous behavior, by yielding to evil passions and destructive appetites, by failure to give heed to the revealed will of the Lord, one cannot enjoy the peace of which the Lord spoke when he said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. …” (John 14:27.)
The commandments which have been given by the Lord to his prophets in this dispensation pertain to eternal truth and set forth the mind and will of the Lord to his people in this day and age, which is the dispensation of the fulness of times, preparing a people to be worthy to meet the Lord when he shall come again in power and in glory. There are those who would desire to destroy this great nation and its liberties for which our forefathers struggled and fought and bled, and there are also those whose great ambition is to cast reflection and doubt upon the revelations and teachings of the Church. They seriously question God’s revealed word and seem to have no desire for or interest in matters pertaining to the Spirit, which are of an eternal nature...
Our lives consist of this act and that act, this experience and that, one accomplishment after another. But if we are to accomplish the great purpose of our earth life, we must have power to resist the forces of the evil one; we must overcome the weaknesses of the flesh; we must distinguish between the physical desires and the spiritual strength...
It is, of course, necessary that we have the physical necessities of life. It is natural that we should want the things that make life, physical life, desirable and pleasurable. But if in obtaining such things we neglect those things that are of eternal worth, the spiritual part of life, then we have mistaken the chaff for the wheat of life. We have failed to recognize the eternal purpose of our existence...
* * * * *
Sources: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 127; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 2, Volume 3, by David J. Ridges, 109; Excerpts from General Conference, April 1974, “Strength of the Spirit,” by Elder Joseph Anderson, Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.