For the flesh lusts against the Spirit

For the flesh lusts against the Spirit

"For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish." - Galatians 5:17

I will now present some practical inferences from this point: the hindrance and interruption caused by the flesh, even to godly individuals, preventing them from doing what they desire. The fifth inference is as follows:

The best of God's children have a great need for the mediation and intercession of Jesus Christ when they present any duty to God. If we were to approach God with these defilements and interruptions caused by the flesh in our duties, without Christ, God might say to us as Elisha said to the King of Israel, "If it weren't for Jehoshaphat's presence, I wouldn't look toward you or see you." Likewise, God the Father might say to each of us, "If it weren't for Jesus Christ, I wouldn't see or regard you in any duty you perform." Just as Joseph said to his brothers, "Unless you bring Benjamin with you, you shall not see my face again," so unless you bring the Lord Jesus Christ with you, you cannot expect to see the face of God with approval.

In Exodus 28:36, it is written that Aaron, the priest of the Lord, was to wear a pure gold plate on his forehead, engraved with the words "Holiness to the Lord." This signifies that when you come to serve God, you need the intercession of Jesus Christ, who, through his intercessions, bears the iniquity of our holy actions. Although you have the assistance of the Spirit in performing your duties, you still need the mediation of Christ for acceptance. Therefore, we read not only about the intercession of Christ but also about the intercession of the Spirit. The Spirit intercedes within us, and Christ intercedes for us.

If the flesh interrupts during your duties, then you have a great need, when engaging in those duties, to watch over your hearts and fortify them against the incursions and disturbances of the flesh. Those who live by the seaside are compelled, for their safety, to build great mounds and banks to prevent the sea from overflowing them. On the other hand, those who dwell inland require only small ditches to serve their needs. Corrupt nature is like the sea, and you need to construct many mounds and banks in your heart; otherwise, corrupt nature will flood your mind with vain and irrelevant thoughts. Ainsworth provides a good note on Numbers 4:23, where it is mentioned that all those from thirty to fifty years old from the house of Gershon entered to perform service and work at the Tabernacle. The word used to denote "perform service" also means "to wage warfare," as Ainsworth translates it. The Scripture mentions this to highlight that when you are serving God, you are also engaged in a spiritual battle. In 1 Peter 4:7, there is a mention of "watching unto prayer," and in Colossians 4:2, of "watching in prayer." You are not only to be watchful before praying but also during prayer. You have grounds to watch against the interruptions of the flesh, as well as other interruptions. Firstly, there are interruptions from the world, and the Apostle desires that we may be free from cares and attend to the Lord without distraction. Worldly cares hinder holy duties, so we must watch against them. Secondly, we are also hindered by natural weaknesses, and we must be vigilant against them. This is how I understand Piscator on Matthew 26:41, where Christ speaks of the spirit being willing but the flesh being weak. "Flesh" there does not refer to corrupt nature but bodily frailty. Thirdly, interruptions and hindrances come from the devil, and in such cases, you should follow Abraham's example when birds landed on his sacrifice—he drove them away. According to Deodate, the birds landing on Abraham's offering is a clear sign of the devil disturbing the elect during holy acts. So, as Abraham did, you must drive away those birds, which are compared to the devil in Matthew 13:4—those foul and infernal spirits that attempt to disrupt your worship. In the Book of Job, it is mentioned that on a certain day, the Sons of God presented themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Sons of God cannot refer to angels, as it would mean that devils are in heaven where angels reside. Therefore, the Sons of God in this context refer to Job's children, and similarly, the descendants of Seth were called the Sons of God in Genesis 6. Now, to my point, it is said that Job's children appeared before the Lord on a certain day, believed to be the Sabbath day. On that day, Satan came among them, and you can be certain that the devil did not come with good intentions but to interrupt and disturb them in their religious practices. Therefore, considering that you have not only your own hearts, the world, and natural weaknesses to contend with but also the devil seeking to hinder and divert you, you have every reason to diligently watch over yourselves.

If the flesh interrupts you in God's service, then learn not to place any confidence in your most religious performances. Are you daring enough to rely on such a weak foundation for the salvation of your soul? If your duties are tainted and mixed with so much evil, how can you dare to find rest in them? Job speaks of this, saying, "Though I were righteous, yet would I not plead with thee," and again he says, "I am afraid of all my sorrows, I know that thou wilt hold me innocent." In another translation, it is stated as, "I am afraid of all my good works." Furthermore, he says, "Though I should wash myself with snow-water and make myself never so clean, yet shalt thou plunge me in a ditch, and my own clothes shall abhor me." Even if I were to perform my duty impeccably, you would still find much evil in me. Therefore, if your best services are mixed with sin, rely solely on Christ for salvation. To emphasize this point, I will present three compelling considerations.

  1. You have more sinful acts coming from the flesh than gracious acts coming from the Spirit in your duties. Will you then rely on a duty that has more sin than grace manifested in it? More wandering thoughts than holy thoughts? You forget more of a sermon than you remember of it, and the sin of your nature produces more wandering thoughts than the Spirit of God produces holy thoughts. Your graces are like gold filings, but your sins are like heaps of dust. How can you dare to rest on your duties, expecting life and salvation from them?

  2. Consider that one circumstance in a duty is enough to render it evil, whereas many concurrent circumstances are not enough to make a duty good. Suppose you pray, and one circumstance in your prayer may make it sinful. Even if you pray well in terms of manner, if you lack the right end or have a flawed principle, it is not right. In moral philosophy, it is a principle that circumstances carry more weight than actions, and the same applies in theology. One circumstance can render a duty defective, but even many circumstances together cannot make a duty good.

  1. Consider that you are guilty of many past sins, and present duties cannot compensate for past sins. Suppose a tenant who regularly pays their rent, but has been in arrears for ten or twenty years. Their current payment of rent cannot make up for the past arrears. The same applies to you. You are deeply indebted to God for past time, and even if there were merit in your duties (which there is not), present duty could not atone for past sins. Therefore, do not rely on duty.

Does the flesh interrupt us in duty? From this, we can see the evil nature of sin and the harmful quality of original corruption. This is a doctrine that can never be emphasized enough. So, from this doctrine, I urge you to take a moment to consider the evil nature of original sin. I can illustrate it with this example: If you have a vessel filled with liquid, a little bit of gall will embitter it more than a large amount of honey will sweeten it. Behold the destructive nature of sin. How it taints both your person and your performances. In Numbers 19:22, there is a law that states, "Whatever an unclean person touches shall be unclean." This was initially spoken about ceremonial uncleanness, but it also holds true in spiritual matters. You are an unclean person, and everything you touch becomes unclean. You defile all your duties. There is a pertinent passage in Haggai 2:12-13, where the people had a question about the law to ask the priests. The question was, "If one who is ceremonially unclean touches holy meat with the edge of his garment, does it become holy?" The priests answered, "No." Then Haggai asked, "If one who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?" The priests answered, "It shall be unclean." Here you can observe that holy things cannot make common things clean and holy, but if an unclean person touches holy things, they become unclean. The meaning of this is explained by the prophet in verse 14. Haggai said, "So it is with this people and this nation in my sight," declares the Lord. "Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is unclean." This means that every sacrifice and every duty is unclean. In the language of the Gospel, it means that if a person is in a state of nature, all their offerings and sacrifices, that is, all their duties, are unclean to them. For the unclean, everything is unclean.

[Use 2] The second use I will make of this point is for comfort. I will provide eight consolations for those who fear God and are aware of the interruptions caused by the flesh in the worship of God.

  1. Find comfort in knowing that as you have the flesh hindering you, you also have the Spirit helping you in your duties. The Spirit will assist you in your weaknesses with sighs and groans that cannot be uttered. While the flesh may harden your heart and dampen your spirit, you have the Spirit of God to soften your heart and revive your spirit. The Spirit enables you to pray with sighs and groans. And even though the devil may tempt you, remember that "he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world," as St. John says.

  2. Consider that in God's eyes, a desire to do the duties you are unable to perform is counted as actually doing them. It is worth noting what is recorded about Nehemiah in two Scripture passages. In Nehemiah 1:11, he prays, "Lord, let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name." And in Nehemiah 5:15, Nehemiah says, "I did not oppress the people, because of the fear of God." Therefore, Nehemiah's desire to fear the Lord is considered by God as the fear of God. A desire for any grace is regarded by God as possessing that grace. The Lord accepts the will in place of the deed. If there is a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what one does not have. See, therefore, what a good God you serve, who accepts intentions as actions and purposes as executions, as evidenced by many testimonies in Scripture.

  1. Feeling the lack of any grace or ability to fulfill any duty, and being grieved by that lack, is considered by God as if that lack were supplied. You say you cannot mourn, but do you desire to mourn for your sins? Well, a sense of lacking any grace is, in divine acceptance, considered as having that grace. Some interpret Romans 8:26 to mean that we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit itself intercedes for us with sighs and groans. That is, the Spirit helps us grieve over our inability to pray, repent, or perform our duties better. In this, we see the assistance of God's Spirit, and this God will accept.

  2. Remember that God accepts sincerity of heart even when there is not perfection of grace. You live under a Covenant of grace, in which God accepts sincerity instead of perfection. God would rather see the truth of grace than the strength of abilities. You complain that you cannot pray; perhaps you lack the gift of eloquent prayer. But you do not lack a genuine desire, nor the beauty of a humble spirit and a pure heart. God prefers the truth of grace over the strength of abilities. You can see this in the case of Moses and Aaron in Exodus 4:4. God said to Moses, "I know that Aaron, your brother, can speak well." Moses, on the other hand, had a stuttering tongue. Yet, when Moses and Aaron were chosen for the great work of prayer while Joshua fought against Amalek, God chose stammering Moses to make the prayer, not eloquent Aaron. Moses could pray better than Aaron, despite Aaron's greater abilities.

  1. Consider that you may complain that it is the interruption of the flesh that hinders you in your duties, when in reality it is the disability of your physical body. Many godly individuals often attribute their unfitness for duty to their own hearts, when it is actually due to an indisposed and disabled body. You should understand that sometimes the body can disable a person from performing their duty, and that disability is not sinful; it is a condition of misery, but not a sin. This was the case with Paul. He said to the Galatians, "You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first. And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus." Jerome interprets these words as referring to bodily weakness that prevented Paul from preaching. Yet, the Galatians tolerated him and did not reject him because of this bodily infirmity. Similarly, Paul told the Thessalonians that he had intended to come to them again, but Satan hindered him. Some believe this hindrance was persecution, while others think it was a tempest at sea. However, most believe it was some form of bodily ailment through which the devil hindered him. Therefore, if you have a sick, painful, or diseased body that disables you from performing your duties, although it may be your misery, it is not your sin. Therefore, in such a case, do not blame your own heart. It is like a strong and healthy person riding on a poor, exhausted horse. In a similar way, the soul, though active and vigorous, is sometimes compelled to keep pace with a weak, sick, and tired body.
  1. Remember that God accepts what belongs to Him in our duties and covers what is ours. The water in the sea is salty, but in the river it becomes fresh. Similarly, the duty that originates from you may be salty and unpleasant, but when it passes through the river of Christ's blood, it loses its unsavoury taste. What great grace it is for God to cover our shortcomings and accept what is His own! In philosophy, there is a rule that the name or classification is based on the greater part. God classifies a person based on their better part. You may sin in prayer, but you also exhibit grace in prayer. Just as when wine is mixed with water and the mixture partially dilutes the wine, but because the wine still retains its taste and colour, the entire cup is called wine. So even if there is a mixture of sin and grace in your heart during your duty, the whole action will be considered a gracious act.

  2. Although the flesh hinders you in performing your duties, there is a vast difference between a godly person and a wicked person in this very case, despite both being interrupted by the flesh.

  • The wicked are hindered by the flesh, but they do not have the Spirit to assist them against corruption like the godly do.

  • The wicked do not have renewed principles of grace in their hearts to resist the corruptions of the flesh, unlike the godly. Regenerate individuals cannot sin in the same way as the wicked because they have a seed of grace remaining within them.

  • The wicked do not discern and lament the interruptions of the flesh as clearly and deeply as the godly do.

  • The wicked will never be free from the evil workings of the flesh, neither in this world nor in the world to come. Sin will hinder their duties in this life, and in the afterlife, they will cast off all sense of duty. However, the godly, though troubled by the flesh, will one day be liberated from it. This concludes the first part of the dual consequence.


I will now proceed to the second application of these words, which is the conflict of the Spirit against the flesh, preventing men from doing the evil they desire to do. And the observation is as follows:

Doctrine: The Spirit of God often preserves regenerated individuals from doing the evil they desire to do.

In discussing this point, I will focus on three aspects in the doctrinal part:

  • I will explain how the Spirit prevents a person from doing the evil they desire.
  • I will clarify the nature of this work of the Spirit.
  • I will help you understand the distinction between the restraining grace of the Spirit, which prevents a wicked person from sinning, and the renewing grace of the Spirit, which keeps regenerated individuals from evil.

How does the Spirit prevent a person from doing the evil they desire? I will provide five specific points to answer this question.

  1. The Spirit prevents a person from doing the evil they desire by enlightening their judgment and making them see the true nature and consequences of sin. We see this in Job 36:9, where it says, "He shows them their work and their transgressions, that they have exceeded." The Spirit opens their ears to discipline and commands them to turn away from iniquity. The sin of human nature is marked by ignorance, indicating that a person without the Spirit is blind to the evils they commit. Therefore, the Spirit enlightens them. The Apostle Paul was sent to open people's eyes and turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God. This implies that the eyes must be opened and the judgment enlightened before one can be rescued from sin.

  2. The Spirit prevents a person from sinning by activating their conscience to check and rebuke them when tempted. Conscience is God's officer and man's overseer. Without a conscience, a wicked person would commit all imaginable evils; every opportunity would be seized to sin. Just as sin wounds the conscience after it is committed, conscience checks before the act. Conscience acts like an iron gate and a brazen wall, keeping a person from many evils they would otherwise engage in. Joseph consulted his conscience, saying, "How can I do this great wickedness?" and it prevented him from committing folly with his mistress.

  3. Another way the Spirit prevents a person from sinning is by infusing a principle of grace and holiness that opposes the principle of sin in their nature. The Apostle John tells us that whoever is born of God does not commit sin because the seed of God remains in them. Those who are born of God have a renewed nature and a new principle contrary to the sin in their nature.

  4. The Spirit prevents a person from evil by bringing to their remembrance specific passages from Scripture that speak against the sin they are tempted to. David speaks of hiding the Word of the Lord in his heart so that he may not sin against God. This is how the Spirit fortifies the heart against sin, as seen in many instances. Solomon advises his son to keep God's words and commandments to be guarded against the influence of the immoral woman. David also testifies, "By the word of your lips, I have kept myself from the paths of the destroyer." Augustine tells of a young man who was inclined towards wantonness, but God brought to his remembrance the passage that says, "Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness." This became a means by which he ceased his indulgence in dalliance and wantonness.

  5. The Spirit prevents a person from doing the evil they desire by instilling in their heart a sense of awe and reverence for the presence of God when tempted to sin. "Fear the Lord and depart from evil," says the wise man, emphasizing the connection between the fear of God and abstaining from evil. Similarly, Solomon speaks to the same effect, stating that "By the fear of the Lord, men depart from evil." A deep fear of the Almighty God acts as a safeguard against sin.

[Question 2] The next question is, in what way does the Spirit keep a person from sin? In general, there are three aspects to consider.

  • With regard to the types of sin.
  • With regard to the time and place where sin would be committed.
  • With regard to the manner in which sin is committed.
  1. In terms of the types of sin, the Spirit ensures that a born-again person will never commit the sin against the Holy Spirit. It is not that the potential for that sin is absent in the godly, as it exists in them just as it does in others. This has been fully explained by John in 1 John 5:18. After mentioning the sin that leads to death and stating that one should not pray for it, he goes on to say in the eighteenth verse, "We know that whoever is born of God does not sin, but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him." This means that the wicked one will not prevail over a godly person to commit this sin leading to death. The grace in their heart will keep them, preventing the wicked one from exerting such influence.

  2. The Spirit of God will keep a person from committing sin at the specific time and place where they would be inclined to do so. An example of this is seen in how the Spirit kept David from carrying out his plan to kill Nabal and his family in a fit of anger. When Abigail approached David and wisely persuaded him against it, his hot temper was quickly calmed. Here, the work of God's Spirit was evident in restraining David, despite his initial resolve to act in a certain way at a particular time and place.

  3. Most importantly, the Spirit keeps a person from sinning in terms of the manner in which they do evil. A regenerate person will not sin in the same manner as they did before their conversion. I previously explained how the Spirit prevents a person from fulfilling sin, and now I will show you how the Spirit of God keeps a born-again person from sinning in the same way they did before. There are seven specific aspects I will mention regarding this point.

a. A born-again person will not sin in ignorance as they did before. Paul speaks of himself, acknowledging that the Lord showed him mercy because he sinned unknowingly. However, once a person is converted, their eyes are opened, and they will not sin in ignorance. This aligns with the Apostle's exhortation to be obedient children and not conform to their former lusts in their state of ignorance. Before conversion, a person walks in darkness, as the wise man says, unaware of what they stumble upon. The unconverted state is a time of darkness, where a person sins without awareness. But after conversion, God illuminates the soul, enabling them to see the harmful nature of sin.

b. You cannot commit sin as foolishly and unconsciously as before. Prior to conversion, sin did not trouble your conscience any more than gravel in the fingers of a glove. However, now it is like gravel scraping in your bowels; before, you were foolish and, as the Apostle says, your conscience was seared as with a hot iron. Seared flesh is insensible, while raw and chafed flesh is sensitive. Previously, your conscience was not sensitive to sin, but now, if you sin, it pricks your heart like a sword. Before conversion, the Law was disregarded, but now a godly person sets it before their eyes. You were once numb, but sin now feels like a dagger at your heart.

c. You cannot sin as contentedly as before. In the past, you wallowed in sin like a pig in the mud, but now you are like a sheep in the mud longing to be back in the green meadows. I mentioned earlier that corruption in a godly person is like poison in the body, causing trouble and pain. However, for the wicked, sin is natural, like poison in a toad. Before your conversion, you were content with sin and corruption within you, just as a toad naturally carries poison. But after conversion, sin troubles you as if poison were in your bowels. Sin is the wicked person's sport and pastime, while it is the godly person's grief and burden.

d. You do not commit sin as fearlessly as in the past. Previously, you would rush into sin like a horse charging into battle, without the fear of God leaving an impression on your mind. The fear of God did not prevent you from sinning. However, when God converts a person, they sin with more fear in their hearts than ever before. It is worth noting that when the Scripture speaks of a converted person, it does not mention them simply refraining from sin, but fearing it. A good person is one who not only abstains from idle swearing but fears taking an oath. That is why godly individuals are said to fear the commandments. A wicked person may fear the threats and punishments, but it is only a good person who fears the commandments and refrains from sin because it goes against a holy law.

e. The Spirit will keep you from sinning as maliciously as you did before. Prior to conversion, the Scripture speaks of wicked people whom the Lord will convict of their ungodly deeds committed in an ungodly manner. It is not just ungodly men and deeds, but the act of committing ungodly deeds wickedly, meaning in a most wilful and malicious manner. However, after conversion, you cannot sin in such a way. We read about those who despise the Spirit of grace, but a godly person will never sin in that manner. They may quench and grieve the Spirit, but they will never despise Him. A godly person will never sin out of malicious wickedness.

f. You cannot do evil, at least not voluntarily, as you did before. Before conversion, you willingly rushed into sin, but now you yield to sin with great reluctance. This is the change that converting grace brings about in you. Previously, you sinned with your entire will, but now there is a conflict within your will. That is why the Apostle says, "With my mind I serve the law of God, but with my flesh the law of sin." Before conversion, the entirety of a person was devoted to the service of sin. However, when a child of God is converted, although they may still sin, it is often done in a state of surprise, like Peter's hasty denial of Christ. In contrast, a wicked person sins deliberately, just as Judas betrayed Christ.

g. You do not sin as shamelessly as before conversion. Back then, people sinned without shame, as the Prophet Jeremiah says. But now, there is fear and blushing shame associated with it.

The next question is: Since being kept from evil is a blessing that applies to both wicked and godly individuals, what is the difference between the restraining grace of the Spirit in the wicked and the renewing grace of the Spirit in the godly? However, I will not address this question now but will save it for the next sermon. For now, I will conclude this sermon with some practical applications based on what you have heard.

  1. Reflect on the great misery of those who lack the Spirit to perform this vital and beneficial function for them. How enslaved to sin they are! Without the Spirit, they are vulnerable to every attack and invasion that the devil launches against them. The Spirit's promptings and dissuasions act as a bulwark and barrier to protect the heart from sin. The Spirit is like a sluice gate that keeps water within its boundaries. But if you remove the gate, there will be a flood of water.

  2. If you desire the Spirit to keep you from evil, you must also make an effort to keep yourself. The Spirit's guardianship does not exclude your own diligent care to guard yourself. David exemplified this by keeping himself from iniquity. He did not use God's care as an excuse for idleness. Remember this rule: If you do not take care to avoid the occasions of sin, the Spirit will not prevent you from carrying out sinful actions. As the Scripture says, "He who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him." Jude also instructs, "Keep yourselves in the love of God."

  3. Regenerate men have every reason to bless God, both for themselves and in relation to wicked men. In terms of themselves, consider the evils that the flesh would have led you into if it were not for the opposing work of the Spirit within you. Reflect on your own conscience and recall how many times you resolved to engage in wickedness, even going so far as to plan the time, place, and manner in which to carry out your intended evil. Yet, God prevented you from accomplishing your evil desires, so that you could not do what you wanted. Therefore, you have great cause to thank God for His positive grace and, not only that, but also for His preventing grace that restrained you from sin. David's experience serves as an example. He fully intended to kill Nabal and his entire household, but the Spirit of God intervened through the counsel of a humble woman. So, consider these things and let them compel you to bless God for His preventing grace. To encourage you further, I will present some considerations from two perspectives:

  • First, if you contemplate the pervasive corruption present in your nature.
  • Second, if you reflect on the strength of that corruption.
  1. If you contemplate the widespread nature of corruption, it affects all individuals, as all the descendants of Adam are infected with this common contagion. They have all sinned in him and thus are guilty of the punishment, making them susceptible to the contagion of Adam's sin.

  2. If you consider the pervasiveness in every part, there is not a single part of a person that is free from sin. Even in regenerate men, while there is something sanctified in every part, there is also something unsanctified. There is grace in every part, but there is also sin in every part.

  3. Regarding the object, a person's nature is averse to all that is good and inclined towards all that is evil. The corruption of nature is often described by theologians as resembling the chaotic state that existed before creation, containing virtually all the sins that have been committed in the world.

  4. There is universality in terms of time as well. This corruption of nature is not limited to one era or another; it has existed in all ages of the world. It reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the same way as Adam did. Now, when you consider that all individuals and all parts of people are corrupted, and that this corruption incites you to all forms of sin, do you not have ample reason to marvel at why there is not even more wickedness committed in the world?

  5. Consider not only the universality of corruption but also its strength. If it were a weak adversary, it would not be as concerning. However, there is immense strength and potency in it. That is why it is sometimes referred to as an enticing enemy and at other times as a forceful one. If it cannot entice through cunning, it will exert its power to draw you in.

We should exalt God's grace in relation to wicked individuals who are enemies of the Church. If it were not for the restraining grace of God's Spirit, preventing wicked men from doing the evil they desire, the world would be unbearable. Every wicked person would murder anyone who angered them, and deceive anyone they interacted with. Human societies would be overturned, and the Church of God would be eradicated from the Earth if God did not restrain people through the common workings of His Spirit. God has the power to turn the wrath of man to His praise and to restrain the remaining wrath. This applies to God's enemies, and He restrains their anger through the ordinary operations of His Spirit, causing it to ultimately bring praise to Him and benefit His people. A well-known example is seen in the encounter between Laban and Jacob. Laban approached Jacob with malicious intent, but God intervened and commanded Laban not to harm Jacob or even speak against him. God exerted a great restraint on Laban's spirit, preventing him from carrying out the harm he intended. Similarly, in the case of Esau and Jacob, Esau harboured a deep hatred towards his brother and had planned to kill him after their father's mourning period. However, God changed Esau's disposition and restrained his violent intention, leading to a heartfelt reconciliation between the brothers. The Psalmist also expresses that the Lord can cut off the spirit of princes and is fearsome to the kings of the earth. In other translations, it is stated that the Lord can restrain the spirit of princes. This has been true throughout history and remains so today. Even those who despise religion and hold great power cannot act upon the full extent of their power. Because no wicked person can fully carry out their evil desires, we have abundant reasons to bless God. Despite Pharaoh's significant power, God delivered His people from his grasp. Moreover, the Lord prevented Balaam from cursing His people, ensuring that no harm would befall them. As David declares, God reproved kings for the sake of His anointed ones, commanding them not to touch His anointed and not to harm His prophets.


Source: The Combat Between the Flesh and the Spirit by Christopher Love