Early in my Christian walk I heard about an old Indian story about the white wolf and black wolf that live in us. The white wolf represents the Spirit of God. The black wolf represents the old sinful nature we were born with. Supposedly, these two are continually fighting with each other for control of our thoughts and actions. The one who wins is the one we feed. It sounds reasonable. Sometime I do feel like a battle is raging within me. It seems to fit with what Paul wrote about the struggle between the Spirit and the flesh:
Galatians 5:17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
This video of a dog eating a bone shows the stupidity of this lie that is taught in churches. Watch as this dog struggles to control his rear leg, which he believes is trying to steal the bone! This dumb dog is growling at his own leg! Is this how funny we look to God, when we try to defeat sin by feeding a supposed “white wolf” so a supposed “black wolf” won’t steal our Jesus ‘bone’? Am I going to be dumb like this dog, and imagine a black wolf always lurking around, trying to steal the “bone” of my Christian walk?
However, I do not believe this “split personality” concept of struggle against sin is truthful according to God’s word. I believe it is a lie which promotes our self-effort to struggle against sin. This lie perpetuates our “bondage” to sin and the flesh. It actually leads to walking in the “flesh.” This is an element of that “other gospel” that Paul wrote the Galatians about.
Paul wrote in Romans that we were baptized into the death of Jesus Christ:
Romans 6:3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
The body of Jesus Christ died and was buried in a borrowed tomb. So what part of me died, because I still have my five senses! Paul says that our “old man” died!
Romans 6:6-7 We know that our old self (man) was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.
He states further that “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24)
In reality, we have died… “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3) We are a “new creation” in which God Himself dwells. How could God dwell in a “split personality” type situation?
Paul further states: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
If born again Christians are “new creations” (2 Cor 5:17), and God dwells in us, why do we still sin? After all, if we say we do not sin, we make God a liar and His Word is not in us. (1 John 1:10). Paul struggled with this situation and wrote about it in Romans chapter 7. In fact, he wrote, “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:14-15)
The Law of Sin
This led Paul to the discovery of a law that all physical men and women live under, the “Law of Sin.” This law of sin is present as long as we have a physical body, for it is inherent in this physical body which will one day be put into the grave. While we have only one nature as far as God sees us, because we have died in Christ, the law of sin is still in force. Our flesh is still under its influence.
but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:23-25)
Law of the Spirit of Life
The cry of Paul was “who will deliver me” and the answer came from God, “thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Jesus provides the answer, the deliverance, not through our struggle against this law of sin (for we will always lose), but through a NEW LAW which we can live under because we have a NEW NATURE! Our new spiritual nature allows us to live under the “Law of the Spirit of Life!” This new law sets us free from the law of sin. This new law can only be followed by faith, not by self-effort.
Romans 8:2-4 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
This new nature that we have been given as a result of our “new birth” is the nature of the Holy Spirit. God lives in us. We are His dwelling place. We are to have the “mindset” of Jesus (as described in Philippians 2:4-8). We are to die to what we want, even dying to our own self-effort, and live according to the Holy Spirit, who indwells us. This is the only way to freedom from the law of sin. This is the only way our flesh can be freed to serve Jesus Christ in victory over sin!
Romans 8:5-10 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
If we try to live the Christian life thinking that it is up to us to feed the white wolf, or else we will lose to the black wolf, we will walk in a continual up and down victory and defeat mode of which personality is in charge. We will be frustrated and defeated. We will burn out and feel that following Christ is pointless and powerless. Our faith will never grow. The only way the flesh is freed from the law of sin is not through self-effort, but through submission to God and walking dependant upon the Holy Spirit. That takes a growing faith to see Him in charge. That takes an attitude of rest in Him and the victory He has already won! That requires a trusting in His Word!
Romans 8:13-14 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the POWER of God!
This requires a true understanding and trusting in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For the death and burial of Jesus is the Power of God for our enjoying LIFE in Jesus Christ. But first we must die to self-effort and self-reliance! Our righteousness in Christ is revealed from faith to faith! His faith must be our faith! The righteous live by faith!
Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
So don’t think you must feed the white wolf to keep the black wolf at bay. The black wolf is dead! What you are seeing is a ghost! Let him go and set your mind upon the Holy Spirit. Walk in Him by faith! Don’t let the ghost keep you scared, keep you enslaved. Walk in the freedom of the Holy Spirit, for He sets us free from the law of sin and from those nasty ghosts of wrong teaching!