The Bible clearly portrays the apostle Paul as a man who struggled daily with his sinful flesh (Romans 7:18-20). However, God motivated Paul to be a man of action, and his demonstrations of his faith—the works he performed out of love for Jesus—give validity and credibility to his writing. For when he writes about the true marks of a Christian he says,
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Romans. 12:9-12).
This passage is paralleled with Paul’s letter to the Galatians, saying, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22). The Spirit and the flesh are two opposing forces, and for the Christian—those in the Spirit—it is a constant battle. Paul’s letters reveal his firsthand experience fighting this battle. Yet it also expresses the victorious truth that we have the greatest force on our side, Jesus. He is the one who humbled himself for us, empowers us to act against our flesh, and to keep in step with the Spirit.