So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Friend to Friend
The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Galatia during his second missionary journey. He was frustrated that many believers were wavering in their faith. Not good.
In Galatians 5, he reminded the believers that Christ died so that they could be free. And he was careful to distinguish that their freedom was not to sin but from sin.
He went on to tell them of the spiritual battle that was taking place between their fleshly desires and their holy desires. Between walking by the Spirit and walking by the flesh.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. (Galatians 5:16–18)
How can we be led by the Spirit and not by the flesh? Paul spelled it out in the next few verses by identifying what flesh-led living looks like. Here’s his list:
Idolatry and witchcraft
Fits of rage
Factions and envy
Orgies and the like
“And the like” means this list is not exhaustive, but it should help us get the gist. All of these are ungodly choices that oppose the will of God.
My church-girl temptation is to look at this list and see how I measure up. Am I good enough, God? (Someone hit a game-show buzzer!) Not what I should do. This list should serve as a resource to me and as a reminder that while “orgies” and “witchcraft” might not be my biggest struggles, “fits of rage” and “selfish ambition” sure can sneak into my moments.
I walk in the flesh when I blow a gasket with my people, in traffic, in that email, or at my job. I walk in the Spirit when I ask the Lord to take away my anger and frustrations, help me sift through ungodly emotions, provide the grace He promises, and help me respond to my people in a way that brings Him honor and glory.
I walk in the flesh when I think more about myself than others. When I want to be first, be the best, have the most, be the boss, tell everyone else how they should behave, or demand to sit in a prominent position. I walk in the Spirit when I humble myself before Jesus, when I look out for the interests of others and esteem them as better than myself (Phil. 2:3–4), and when I serve others and give my life away for the sake of Jesus (Matt. 20:26–27).
Ultimately, when I walk in the Spirit, my life will echo the characteristics of Jesus. That’s the me I want to be. I will bear the fruit of His Spirit and choose responses, thoughts, and attitudes that exemplify the power of God at work in and through me.
Ready for one more list? Here’s the Vogue magazine cover of true beauty … The fruits of walking in the Spirit are:
I want the beauty of God’s Spirit to be visible in my life. Don’t you?
Paul went on to sum up the fruit bearing this way: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:24–25).
There it is plain as day, one of the greatest challenges to humankind: the call to live out the love and freedom of Christ by laying aside all desires, thoughts, decisions, and responses that are against God’s will and, instead, putting on the humility of Jesus and yielding our hearts to His Spirit.
If I want all of the power God has for me, I need to rely on His Spirit and look to Him as my helper, comforter, advocate, and counselor who leads me in all truth. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).
I pray this for you. I pray this for me.
Because I want to trust God for all of the joy and peace He will give me.
I want to overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
I want the Holy Spirit to consume my heart.
Imagine what our lives, families, churches, and communities would look like if you and I invited the Spirit of God within us to connect our life dots and prepare us for spiritual battles each day. Surely the world would see a beautiful, vibrant, powerful faith picture.
Dear Lord, Help me to live by Your Spirit today so that I am prepared to represent You well in each opportunity that comes my way.
In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read Ephesians 5:8. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” What would it look like for you to walk in the Spirit as a child of light with your choices and responses today? How will that impact those around you?
More from the Girlfriends
We want to help you be a woman of impact who expects great things from God and moves in the power and grace of Jesus. That’s why she’s hosting a FREE Online Bible Study of I Want It ALL. Sign up today and get started!
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Today’s post is an excerpt from Gwen Smith’s new book, I Want It All.