“The Battle within” – Galatians 5:16-18

Galatians 5:16-18
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.” 
This passage of scripture reminds me of an illustration I heard early in my Christian life: A Native American Christian went to a missionary for counsel. He was very troubled by the spiritual conflict going on within his heart. He wanted to do what God wanted him to do but he frequently disobeyed God. He said to the missionary, “It’s as though I have a black dog and a white dog inside me fighting constantly.” The black dog, he explained, represented evil and the white dog represented good. The missionary asked him, “Which dog wins the battle within you?” After several moments of silence the native said, “The dog that wins is the one I feed and the dog that loses is the one I starve.”  
Let’s look at what it means to “walk in the Spirit”. Walking by the Spirit is living your life in the continual presence and power of the Spirit of God! In Ephesians 5:18 God’s Word tells us to be filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit. Which brings us to Galatians 5:17; we see the “flesh” and the Spirit pitted against one another, they are in total opposition to one another. What is the flesh? Simply put it is a metaphor for our sin nature. We are all born with a sin nature, but when we receive Christ as Savior, the Holy Spirit immediately comes to reside within us. This is when the battle begins, because those fleshly desires don’t disappear even for people who have come to faith in Christ and been justified by God’s grace. Living by the flesh means living life controlled by things that are not from God-things like anger, jealousy, greed, gossip etc. 
We need to be brutally honest with ourselves and with God. 1 John 1:8 is emphatic; “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us”. Living in the power of the Holy Spirit is living in freedom from those things and enables us to live lives that please and glorify God.    
How do we have victory in this battle with the flesh? Galatians 5:18 “If you are led by the Spirit”….when we submit to His leading and control, we are free from bondage to the inclinations of the flesh and from legalistic practices laid down by the Law.  Being led by the Spirit means we must turn to God and His Word. Psalm 119:9-11 instructs us; “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word have I treasured in my heart, that I might not sin against You.  John 17:17 AMP says, “Sanctify them in the truth (set them apart for your purposes, make them holy) Your Word is truth”.
While using the HEAR method (see below) consider the following questions:  
  • What are some things you can do to “walk in the Spirit” and be “led by the Spirit” to have victory over the flesh?
  • What can you eliminate in your life to “starve” the old sin nature/flesh?
Highlight – what words or phrases jump out at you? 
Explain – what does the passage mean? 
Apply – how does the passage intersect with your life today? 
Respond – how is God leading you to respond? 
A big thank you to Bev McBride who provided today’s post



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