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 5:17]
oh, the wrestle.
you may be familiar with the wrestle: the feeling of tension in your heart that makes it beat out of your chest; the frantic thoughts playing a game of tug of war in your brain; the sweaty palms that send you on high alert.
maybe your wrestle looks different, but i would venture to say it’s probably not a pleasant experience.
some translations use the word “crave” for desire. the greek word for crave is “epithymei” – to long for, covet, lust after, set the heart upon.
what is your flesh longing for today that are contrary to what the Lord desires for you? what earthly things are you setting your heart upon?
revenge against that person that hurt you?
financial security through lucrative means?
people’s praise to fill you up (over your identity in Christ alone)?
a busy schedule to avoid bringing your struggles to the Lord?
distractions that keep you from experiencing repentance?
maintaining a proper image in front of other church families?
there is no middle ground: “the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other.” your heart is either serving the Lord or serving another god in your heart. reflect on Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:19-21, 24:
“do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – matthew 9:19-21
“no one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. you cannot serve God and money.” – matthew 6:24
which master are you going to serve today?
don’t be fooled- you will fail. you will serve many other masters today (see romans 7:15 for the apostle paul’s wrestle with this). this is not a call to a report card faith, where you grade yourself for how “good” you are in following God. we cannot be good (justified) on our strength.
the amazing thing about walking in the Spirit is that it is a moment by moment practice, in the midst of failures and victories. it’s not a mere performance check-in; it’s abiding…
remaining in God…
repenting in the moment for the snarky comment made towards your patience-testing children…
resting in your Christ-rooted identity during that work meeting…
giving thanks when you see a beautiful sunset on the commute home from school…
… and so much more.
we can do this because of our unlimited access to God. even when our fleshly desires derail us, Jesus promises that he will not let anyone take away his children from him:
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” – john 10:28
hallelujah! praise God!