SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY (October 30, 2013)
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” Galatians 5:16-18.
“I SAY THEN, WALK IN THE SPIRIT, AND YOU SHALL NOT FULFILL THE LUSTS OF THE FLESH” Galatians 5:16 (MKJV).
In the first edition of this series of messages started yesterday, we discussed Apostle Paul’s admonition to believers to walk in the Spirit. We came to understand what it means to walk in the Spirit. We also discussed what he meant by not fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. We made the point that, believers will be able to live a more righteous and holy life when we walk according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In this edition, we shall continue with the theme started already and focus our attention on the battle between the flesh and the Spirit.
The flesh, (Greek: σάρ ξ sarx), as used by Paul here means the human nature with its physical and emotional frailties and passions. It is also a symbol of what is external, the seen as opposed to what is spiritual, and the unseen. It is about the carnal nature of man as opposed to the spiritual nature of man. The flesh is about the earthly nature of man without divine influence which is prone to sin and opposed to God. It is that part of the body which is unable to resist sin and is therefore ruled by sin. This is the nature of the human being which makes us sin because it opposes the divine nature of man.
According to the Apostle, there is always a battle going on between the spiritual nature of man and the physical nature of man. This is because the spiritual nature of man desires that man lives in fulfilling the spiritual need of man which is to do the will of God. On the contrary, the fleshly nature also wants to maintain the desire to satisfy the demands of the flesh which is drawing man away from the divine, God.
This means that mankind, whether a Christian or a non-Christian, is always going through this struggle. In this struggle, the flesh strives and struggles with all vigor against the spirit just as the spirit also struggles with all vigor against the flesh. Consequently, we are unable to do what we would have loved to do either by our human nature or by our spiritual nature. This is part of the cosmic battle between Satan and the angels of God for the souls of men. Paul laid this foundation to remind believers to be aware of their two natures even after being saved, knowing that every single minute of our lives, we are in battle. We are either being moved towards doing what is good (of the spirit) or what is evil (of the flesh). This battle does not exclude the highly spiritual man or woman.
Every individual in this world goes through this battle. It is the reason why the world has not come to an end even though mankind has become very wicked. The spiritual part of man in us does not allow us to do all the evil in us, else this world would have been destroyed by man long ago. It is also the reason for which for which we are unable to do all the good we desire, and also for which many people, believed to be very strong spiritually, find themselves committing sins to the amazement of others.
With this understand, no one should be surprised when any man or woman of God falls into sin. Everyone is struggling to overcome the sinful desires at any point in time including you and me. I am not saying this to encourage those who fall or to show my support for sin; what am saying is that everyone can fall into it at any point in time, and we know we sometimes fall, don’t we? The truth is that every human being is fallible because we are always struggling against sin. This is because we still remain in this sinful body and live in this sinful world. As long as we remain here, we cannot be free from the pollutants of sin.
The best antidote against the poison of sin is to walk in Spirit as indicated already. In this way the desires of the fleshly nature will not overcome us. We also need to be much conversant with spiritual things and mind the things of the soul which is the spiritual part of man more than those of the body which are carnal. To be able to overcome the fleshly desires, we also need to commit ourselves to the guidance of the word through which the Holy Spirit makes known to us the will of God concerning us and make it a duty to act by depending on the help and influences of the Spirit.
If we do these, we shall be able avoid fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and it will also show that we are Christians indeed because Paul said (v.18) “… If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” It is just like saying that Christians must expect a struggle between flesh and spirit as long as we are in the world because the flesh will continue to lust against the spirit as well as the spirit against the flesh.
However, in the course of these struggles if we are led by the Spirit and act under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and of that spiritual nature he has put in us, and make the word of God our rule and the grace of God our principle, it will appear that we are no longer under the law. That is, not under the condemning nature of the law, though we are still under the commanding power of it, because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus; those who walk not after the flesh but the spirit.
We should always remember that as many as are led by the Spirit of God are the true sons of God (Romans 8:1-14).
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.