But 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
Every one of us bears witness to the truth of this verse in light of our own experience. I am not saying it is true because of our experience, but that this truth is evident in our own battle with our flesh.
It is the very presence of Jesus in us Who gives us victory over the flesh. We can’t defeat the flesh using our own resources. That in and over itself is flesh. It is Jesus living His life through me Who makes it possible.
To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27 (underlining mine)
It is a very real battle. The flesh and the Spirit are opposed – enemies – contrary and mutually exclusive. When one is present the other, by their opposing natures, cannot be present.
I believe it helps to call our flesh out. Identify it. Name it. Combat it with the Spirit of God that dwells within every re-born one.
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16 (underlining mine)
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 (underlining mine)
What would this look like in a practical way? Perhaps an on-going conversation:
- Lord, my flesh wants to be angry but by faith, I trust You to live through me in peace and long-suffering.
- Lord, my flesh wants to be annoyed but by faith, I trust You to live through me in acceptance and forgiveness.
- Lord, my flesh wants to overeat, but I want to be fully satisfied in You.
- Lord, my flesh wants to be fearful, but I have Your peace and rest.
- Jesus, my flesh wants to be proud, please be humble through me.
- Jesus, my flesh wants attention, but I have Your acceptance.
- Lord, my flesh wants to isolate, please love my neighbors through me.
- Lord, my flesh wants to be critical, please love and encourage others through me.
- Lord, my flesh wants to overspend, but I have the fruit of Your Spirit, self-control.
Call it out – name it – and by faith, believe the very life of Christ dwells within you, and by His Spirit, you can redirect your thinking and obedience. Allow the Spirit to rule in your heart. To choose the Spirit nullifies the flesh. By faith, choose the Spirit moment by moment. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16
Written by Diane Hunt: Diane serves on the board of America’s Keswick and is the Executive Director & CEO of Changed Choices, a Christian non-profit in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Think About This: “Your life as a Christian should make non-believers question their disbelief in God.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer