Galatians 5:16-17 - 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.
The apostle Paul in writing to the churches in Galatia had much to say. He knew the pitfalls of the sinful nature; he knew how intoxicating—and devious—the world can be. Today, it is imperative we remember the same thing for, if anything, the number and variety of ungodly diversions, seductive pleasures, and bogus nonsense has only multiplied since Paul's century.
So then, what does it mean to "walk by the Spirit"? And how will doing this "not gratify the desires of the sinful nature"? For Paul living by the Spirit and denying the flesh was a full-time occupation. In many of his letters, he spells out the lifelong struggle that plays out in the lives of believers as they operate in this world but resist becoming a part of it. Walking by the Spirit then is part of our active obedience to God. In the daily pursuit of righteousness, our hunger for sin—our desire—is left ungratified and, by God's grace, is overcome as the Holy Spirit renews us as His new creations.
Unfortunately, our sinful nature won't give up without a fight. And this nature isn't just passively corrupt and prone toward evil, it's combative and actively opposes God's Holy Spirit. This battle, however, is not one-sided. (Thank God!) Paul was all too familiar with this struggle—this ongoing conflict wrestling ceaselessly inside of him.
"So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the Law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members" (Romans 7:21-23).
Now if the very Spirit of God is at odds with our sinful nature, how hell-bent that nature must be! Thankfully, Paul had an answer to this question. "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24-25a).
How is the battle with sin going in your life? Do you find yourself losing resolve in your fight against those things that dog you and drag you down? Are you able to deny your usual responses to frustration and temptation (giving in, bursts of anger, finding fault)? Are you able to deny them long enough to talk to God about it? He's there to help you. His Holy Spirit was given to us for this very reason—to help us resist the devil and our flesh and to triumph over them through the victory we have in Jesus Christ.
You, too, can walk by the Spirit. You need only ask for God's help. "The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth" (Psalm 145:18).
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, guide us by Your Holy Spirit. Preserve us from evil and set us on the road to life everlasting. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Paul Schreiber.
1. How do you struggle with doing the right thing?
2. What is the most persistent desire of the flesh you have to deal with?
3. What does walking by the Spirit look like in your life? Would others notice this about you?
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