Question: What did Paul teach us about “warring”?
Answer: The definition of “warring” is to “make war” or wage a war against an enemy. Paul explains that even though we desire to serve God and keep the commandments that sometimes our weaknesses of the flesh cause us to go against the righteous desires of our heart. The only way we can overcome these weaknesses is to firmly plant the law of God in our mind.
“We will not be one with God and Christ until we make Their will and interest our greatest desire.” (Elder D. Todd Christofferson)
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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 (of the body), 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.
(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.)
Note: The word “members” are members of the body such as eyes, ears, tongue, hands, feet, etc. which can get us into temptation and trouble.
24 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.”)
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D. Todd Christofferson, Of the Presidency of the Seventy
...How glorious it is to contemplate that we have been invited into that perfect unity that exists with the Father and the Son. How can this happen?
Pondering this question, it becomes clear that we must begin by becoming one within ourselves. We are dual beings of flesh and spirit, and we sometimes feel out of harmony or in conflict. Our spirit is enlightened by conscience, the light of Christ...and naturally responds to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit and desires to follow truth. But the appetites and temptations to which the flesh is subject can, if permitted, overwhelm and dominate the spirit. Paul said:
“I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
“For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
“But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Rom. 7:21–23).
Nephi expressed similar feelings:
“Notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
“I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me” (2 Ne. 4:17–18).
But then, remembering the Savior, Nephi stated this hopeful conclusion: “Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted” (2 Ne. 4:19). What did he mean?
Jesus was also a being of flesh and spirit, but He yielded not to temptation...We can turn to Him as we seek unity and peace within, because He understands. He understands the struggle, and He also understands how to win the struggle. As Paul said, “We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).
Most importantly, we may look to Jesus to help restore the inner unity of our soul when we have succumbed to sin and destroyed our peace. Soon after His intercessory plea that we might become “perfect in one,” Jesus suffered and gave His life to atone for sin. The power of His Atonement can erase the effects of sin in us. When we repent, His atoning grace justifies and cleanses us...It is as if we had not succumbed, as if we had not yielded to temptation.
As we endeavor day by day and week by week to follow the path of Christ, our spirit asserts its preeminence, the battle within subsides, and temptations cease to trouble. There is greater and greater harmony between the spiritual and the physical until our physical bodies are transformed, in Paul’s words, from “instruments of unrighteousness unto sin” to “instruments of righteousness unto God” (see Rom. 6:13). Becoming at one within ourselves prepares us for the greater blessing of becoming one with God and Christ....
Surely we will not be one with God and Christ until we make Their will and interest our greatest desire...I am grateful beyond expression that I am invited to be one with those holy beings I revere and worship as my Heavenly Father and Redeemer...
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Sources: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 128; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 2, Volume 3, by David J. Ridges, 109; Excerpts from General Conference, October 2002, “That They May Be One in Us,” by D. Todd Christofferson, Of the Presidency of the Seventy.