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Source of the Conflict

Source of the Conflict

Words of Faith 6-20-19

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Galatians 5

     [16] So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. [17] For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. [18] But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

 

       What is the answer to the biting, devouring, and destroying that is can easily be part of the Christian assembly? The answer, Paul says, is in living by the Spirit.  Only when living by the Spirit, will the believer find freedom and cease to gratify the desires of the flesh.  It is the Spirit alone who can keep the believer genuinely free.

       The truth is that there is a conflict that goes on within the life of every believer.  The battle may grow less violent, but it is always there.  It is the battles between our sinful nature and the Spirit of God. 

       We often call this sin nature the "flesh" because that is the literal translation of the word sarx. But Paul was not talking about the soft parts of the body.  He was talking about our fallen desires that originate with sin or are stained by it.  This is the natural man or "old nature" of man.

        Our sinful nature is always contrary to the Spirit.  In fact, many have pointed out that one way of determining what the Spirit would have us to do is actually to measure what is opposite of the desires of our sin nature!  But Paul gives us a far better way of living in freedom, and that is to be led by the Spirit.  The one thing that Paul was sure of is that if one is led by the Spirit they are not under the law.

       Does that mean the Law is discarded or meaningless once we discover the Spirit?  Not at all.  It merely means that if we are led by the Spirit of God, then the very heart and Spirit that was behind the Law is within us.  If we are guided by the Spirit, we will love God with all our heart mind soul and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves.  Then the "tutor" of the Law is no longer needed to reveal our sinful nature or lead us to grace. 

        This is wonderful freedom!  Life in the Spirit is the simple goal that God has for every believer.  God desires for us to walk in freedom from sin, not under the law, led by His Spirit within us!  So why is that so often not our experience?

        The problem that remains for the believer is the conflict between our sinful nature and the Spirit.  At every moment of every day, the sinful nature seeks to reestablish control in our lives.  Our daily walk is one of surrendering increasingly to the Spirit and bringing the sin nature into powerless submission to the Lord.  This process takes a lifetime.      

        The point here is not to go back under the Law.  This only brings defeat and condemnation.  The goal is to find ourselves increasingly controlled by and surrendered to the Spirit of God in day to day living.  We could call it spirit-filled living or merely a life surrendered to the Spirit.  Whatever we call it, it is characterized by victory not of us but the victory of the Spirit over our sin nature. 

        There will be setbacks in this battle.  We may even be tempted to "give in" to just one area of the sinful nature or declare that it is not essential.  We may also determine that one area of sin is okay since it is common or because we demonstrate victory in so many other areas.  This thinking is its own snare and represents the "Law mindset" that Christ set us free from.

         The truth is that the Lord wants us completely free from sin.  We are not measured on a curve and determined to be "good enough" because we have achieved victory in most areas.  We are, in fact, declared completely righteous by the work of Jesus and set completely free to be led by the Spirit. 

        Paul will talk more about the sort of things that signal the continuing battle that rages.  But for now, we must ask daily: Am I surrendered to the Spirit?  For this day, am I yielded to the leading of the Spirit rather than my sinful nature?  Am I willing to walk in the freedom that has been declared for me? 

         We will all stumble.  But Paul declares the answer so simply: "Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature."  When we are living by the Spirit, it is impossible to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  So live by the Spirit.

 

       Father God, I surrender to Your Spirit.  Now, in this moment, for today, for this life, take control and lead me.  I choose to live by the Spirit of God rather than the desires of my sinful nature.  Thank You for Your grace.  Thank You for Your freedom.  In Jesus' Name.

 

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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, and our website, and our church app, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.  

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