Can baseballs fly? No, but they can sail for more than 400 feet for a towering homerun off the bat of a major league baseball slugger. The distance depends on the speed of the pitch, the trajectory and speed of the bat, and the spin of the ball.
How about bumblebees? With their big bodies and tiny wings, it doesn’t seem possible that they can fly. And their wings do not have an airfoil design like the wings of an airplane to create lift. They are tiny, rough flat wings. But those tiny wings, which work similarly to helicopter blades, move in small amplitude oscillations at approximately 2000 beats per second! The thorax of the bee vibrates like a plucked rubber band. The buzz you hear is not from the beating of their wings but the result of the bee vibrating its flight muscles. On a cool day, bumblebees have to warm up their bodies considerably to get airborne. The rapid oscillations of the wing move a large volume of air and enable the amazing insect to carry out its “flight of the bumblebee.”
How about you–can you fly? If you step off the roof of a building, unless you can flap your arms at more than 200 beats per second, there is a law of physics called gravity that pulls you toward the ground at an increasing rate of speed. Air resistance will slow you down slightly, but not quite enough! But, if you are a world class long jumper, you can “fly through the air” for thirty feet before hitting ground again–but not from a standing start. You have to have sprinter’s speed and enter the pit at full speed.
How did the Wright brothers manage to get their “flying machine” to soar through the air? They didn’t eradicate the law of gravity, they rendered it inoperative by the operation of a higher law called the law of aerodynamics. If that higher law stops working, or the engine stalls, the plane will crash because the first law still exists. Move forward a few years from the Wright brothers’ first flight with their simple airplane to a large modern commercial airliner, say a Boeing 747-8 which can carry up to 467 passengers, take off with 64,055 gals of fuel at a take-off weight of 975,000 pounds and cruise at 35,000 feet at 550-567 mph! How can something that huge and heavy even get off the ground, let alone soar through the air at Mach .8 to .85? Well, it has to do with the design of the plane and its wings and 66,500 lbs thrust from its engines utilizing the law of aerodynamics which counteracts the law of gravity, enabling the plane to fly above the earth.
The Apostle Paul was struggling with another law, like gravity, which was pulling him down. He describes it for us in his letter to the Romans. He wrote: “For that which I am doing I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh (old sinful nature); for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the evil that I do not wish. But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Ro. 7:15-24).
With the fall in the Garden of Eden, the nature of man became sinful, and every offspring of Adam (including all of us, except Christ, who was virgin born) has inherited a sinful, Adamic nature that is in rebellion against God. It is constantly trying to pull us down spiritually and to sin against God. Paul refers to this indwelling bent to evil as his “flesh.” When we trust Christ for eternal life and are born again, we receive a new nature, a divine nature (II Pet. 1:4), but the old sinful nature is not removed, so we face an inward battle for control. Paul describes that battle here in Romans 7 and also in his letter to the believers in Galatia, where he writes: “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Gal. 5:17).
So, just as the law of gravity isn’t suspended so that a player can hit a homerun, or a bumblebee or an airplane can fly, neither is the old nature removed (not until the rapture) so we can live without sinning. But, similar to how the law of aerodynamics can counteract the law of gravity, God gave us the answer to Paul’s question, “Who will set me free from the body of this death?” Paul goes on to say, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law (of Moses) could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did; sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Ro. 7:25-8:4). He gave the same answer in his letter to the churches in Galatia (Asia Minor). After describing the conflict between the flesh and the indwelling Spirit, he wrote: “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law” (Gal. 5:18 cf v. 16) “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh”.
Although we will battle against the flesh until God takes us home, victory is always available, for we have the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to lift us above the pull of the old nature. As we spend time getting to know God’s Word, letting it “richly dwell within us” (Col. 3:16), and then depending upon Christ and not our own strength and wisdom, we will find that “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Ro. 8:2), and “in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (v. 37).