SPIRITUAL GRAPPLING – THE FLESH VS. THE SPIRIT (GALATIANS 5:16-18)
Galatians 5:16-18, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”
To walk in the Spirit means to be occupied more with Christ. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to make us more Christ-like. It is impossible to be fully occupied with Christ and commit sin at the same time. This is the key to a godly life and sanctification; to be more and more occupied with Christ. When we are led by the Spirit, we will be doing God’s will. The flesh is the sinful nature that we are born with, and the flesh has its pull in our lives. Believers who walk in the Spirit will not commit the deeds of the flesh.
1. The flesh is very strong and difficult to control.
Every person knows what it is to have their flesh lusting after something, to have it yearning and yearning to lay hold of something. This is the first reason why a believer's only hope to control the flesh is the Spirit of God.
2. The flesh is contrary to the Spirit.
The flesh has within itself unregulated urges and passions. A person senses the desire to do what he or she likes, to lift the restraints and follow their own inclinations, desires, passions, and emotions. This is what the Bible means when it speaks of the "lust of the flesh." However, the genuine believer has another power within their life—the power of the Holy Spirit. When the believer feels the constraint and the pressure between the flesh and the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is giving the power to overcome the flesh. The believer who listens to the constraint and walks away from the object of the pressure, and calls upon God for the courage to stay away is the believer who walks in the Spirit.
3. The flesh keeps a person from doing what he would.
Every person has experienced the power of the flesh; everyone has caved into the flesh and done something that they did not want to do. They fought against doing it—knew it was harmful or hurtful—yet they did not resist the flesh. They gave into the power of the flesh and did it. The point is this: the flesh is so strong that it often keeps us from doing what we would. The only hope of ever controlling the flesh is to walk in the Spirit of God—in His presence and power.
4. The answer to conquering the lusts of the flesh is the Holy Spirit of God.
The believer is to walk in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. It is the only conceivable way one can keep from fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. No person has the power to control the lusts of his flesh—not within themself. Bathe yourself in Scripture, that is where your strength will be. A preacher was speaking to a new convert who had just recently trusted Christ as their Saviour. The new convert told the preacher that there was a struggle inside them to live for Christ. The new convert explained it like a fight within them between two dogs. “Which one wins?” asked the preacher. “The one I feed the most”, said the young convert. Feed your spirit with Scripture.
The reason that we are truly free isn't that our past has been changed, or our present feelings have changed. We may still feel inadequate, unsure, hesitant, afraid. We are free because God has given us His Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God within enables us. Freedom doesn't mean life without conflict. It does mean the possibility of life without defeat! Our weaknesses need not drag us down, our past no longer cripples us. The Holy Spirit is on our side in the war against the desires of our sinful nature. We no longer look to Law and struggle. We look to the Holy Spirit, trust in Him, and do what is right.
PRAYER: Father, I am so thankful for Your forgiveness through Jesus Christ. I long to live a life that reflects You, but I feel powerless to do it. This process of transformation is difficult for me. I seem to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. I want to change, but I need Your help to transform me. Help me to resist responding to how I feel and help me respond in a manner that glorifies You. My greatest desire is to please You. In Jesus name, Amen.
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship.