“I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 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” (Galatians 5:16-17).
Have you ever had the experience of wanting to do one thing, but you end up doing something else? I don’t mean in terms of daily deeds. I mean in terms of behaviors. You want to respond gracefully, but anger take hold instead. You want to express forgiveness, but find a secret desire to hold a grudge and see the other person fail or embarrassed. You want to love a difficult person, but find hatred or dismissal in your heart. These are all things that all of us have experienced from time to time. It is like a war going on inside of us, two sides of our nature doing battle with one another. And one side is easy to dominate because it is so easy to obey. It’s easier to hold a grudge than it is to forgive. It’s easier to hate than it is to love. The negative aspects of our character are to easy to obey. But things like love, respect, and honor take a conscious decision to express and hold onto. It is, in no uncertain terms, a war.
Paul’s word in this passage from Galatians are battle language. When faced with a difficult choice, you must take a side. You must do battle with your own nature. If you ignore the battle and simply want it to go away, you will lose to your basic instincts every time. But if you choose the spiritual, then you will have a fight on your hands. But, if you stick to it, you will win, and strengthen yourselves for the next battle to come.
And it comes every day.
Walking by the Spirit is hard, but not impossible. For we are not walking according to a mere set of principles. We are walking with the Holy Spirit who inhabits us. So, the victory we can have is one given by his power when we submit to him. Yes, we have two natures, but we only need to live according to one, with the power of the Holy Spirit.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Whatever you are faced with today, make a choice for the spiritual. Then make it again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day. And so on.