16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. (Galatians 5:16-17 NIV)
There are wars going on all over the world at this very minute. Military strategists are mapping out their plans, the enemy is being confronted, lives are being lost, but the hope of victory keeps the soldiers engaged in battle.
There is another war taking place at this very moment. No newspapers are reporting it. It will never make the evening news. It is the war that is taking place inside of every follower of Jesus–a war between the flesh (that which we by nature want to do), and the Spirit (that which God wants us to do).
The same principles that are employed by our leaders in the military are needed in winning the battle that is taking place within the hearts of the followers of Jesus. We need a strategy and it is given right here in Galatians 5. We must live by the Spirit so that we will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. What does it mean to “live by the Spirit?” Well, first of all, we must die to ourselves. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24 NIV) Paul said, 20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NIV) My will, my wants, my desires, my cravings–all of them have to die in order for Christ to live through me, in order for the me to “live by the Spirit.”
I’m learning that this is the first step for me if I want to avoid fulfilling the desires of the flesh. I’m also learning that I don’t have enough resolve to pull this off. I need the Lord’s help every moment of every day. I must tell Him about my weakness, even though He already knows. I must cry out to Him for strength, knowing that He is able to help me. I must avoid those circumstances and situations that I know are a trap, knowing that He has provided a way of escape. I must live with the hope of victory, knowing that I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus my Lord.
My prayer today, Lord, is that You will equip me for the battle that I will face today so that I might live by the Spirit and avoid fulling the desires of my flesh.