Flesh Verses Spirit

Flesh verses Spirit

Galatians 5:16, 17 AMP But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God). For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do.

I’m sure you have heard the old Cherokee legend that speaks of the fight that goes on within each of us between a good wolf and a bad one. It goes like this: An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Well, God’s word describes this as a fight between the flesh and the Spirit. And the one who wins is the one that we yield ourselves to. The Holy Spirit comes to live within a person when they invite Jesus into their hearts to be their own personal Lord and Savior. The Holy Spirit brings His fruit with Him when He comes to live in our hearts. But we cultivate the development of that fruit within our lives when we yield to the control of the Holy Spirit. When we live responsive to, controlled by and guided by the Holy Spirit the old human nature that desires it’s own way is rooted out and the new nature of God’s Spirit is cultivated and developed within us. We begin to see life differently and live in God’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The desire to please ourselves falls to the back and the desire to live according to God’s ways begins to take the forefront.

I like the way the Amplified Bible describes how this fruit is cultivated and developed. It says it this way:

Galatians 5:22, 23 But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].

Verse 22 says that the fruit of the Spirit is accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit within us. We simply allow Him to work and choose to follow Him as He leads, guides and controls us. The control part is allowing Him to mold us into the person that He wants us to be. It is letting go of the reins of our lives and giving them to the Holy Spirit. This isn’t always an easy task because the Word says that the flesh and the Spirit are in opposition to each other. They are even antagonistic, continually withstanding and in conflict with each other. But verse 24 tells us the way to allow the Holy Spirit to have control over the flesh.

Galatians 5:24 AMP And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires.

We are the ones who choose to either allow our flesh to rule or the Holy Spirit to control us. It is done as we make the choice, when presented with the decision to live by the flesh or by the Spirit, to say “no” to what our flesh desires and “yes” to what the Spirit wants to do in us and through us. That’s our part in working with God to change us, to develop and conform us into the image of His Son. That’s the goal of the Holy Spirit’s work within us, in developing the character and nature of Jesus Christ in His body, His church, each one of us as individual members.

Work in progress

Romans 8:29 AMP For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was aware and loved beforehand], He also destined from the beginning [foreordaining them] to be molded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness], that He might become the firstborn among many brethren.

He is changing us to look like Jesus! That means that the work that the Holy Spirit is doing within me is developing the character and nature of God’s Son within me. It is scraping away the old selfish nature that desires to please me and developing His new nature that looks and acts like Jesus. Sometimes things in my life need to be cut back and pruned to produce a more luscious looking fruit. That, at times, hurts, and I don’t always like not getting to be in control of my life. I sometimes rebel and over-ride His gentle promptings to do it His way. That’s my choice. But when I choose to walk in my own ways I am cultivating a selfish, self-centered mindset and attitude that is totally in opposition to the Holy Spirit’s desire to change me into the image of Jesus. I am feeding the wrong wolf!

The good thing about this is that the Holy Spirit doesn’t give up on me. He continues to deal with me and to work within me to develop the character and nature of Jesus Christ. I can be assured that He will not leave me to my own devices, but He will continue to prompt me and draw me into a closer walk with Him so my desires to live according to His ways, instead of my own, change. I have this promise in His continuing His work within me until it is completed.

Philippians 1:6 AMP And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.

God doesn’t give up on me and let me go back to living my life by my godless human nature. He continues to work in my life to bring me to that place where I look and act like Jesus. He is working every day and will continue until Jesus returns again or until the work is completed and perfected within me. I thank God that He doesn’t give up on me when I fall down, but He simply picks me up, brushes me off and starts over again, changing me, molding me and making me into what He desires for me to look like.

When I think about His working within me I am reminded of the old song by Evie Sands that says:

He’s still working on me
To make me what I need to be
It took him just a week to make the moon and stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
‘Cause He’s still workin’ on me

There really ought to be a sign upon my heart
Don’t judge him yet, there’s an unfinished part
But I’ll be better just according to His plan
Fashioned by the Master’s loving hands

He’s still working on me
To make me what I need to be
It took him just a week to make the moon and stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
‘Cause He’s still workin’ on me

In the mirror of His word
Reflections that I see
Makes me wonder why He never gave up on me
But He loves me as I am and helps me when I pray
Remember He’s the potter; I’m the clay

He’s still working on me
To make me what I need to be
It took him just a week to make the moon and stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
‘Cause He’s still workin’ on me

Don't judge me by my past

Father, I thank You for the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. I thank You for never giving up on me but continuing to work in my life to mold me and make me into the person that You want me to be. Thank You for prompting me by Your Spirit to make right choices, to live in right relationship with You and with those around me. I pray that You will help me to yield to Your Spirit within me as I walk through my day today. Make me sensitive to Your voice and cause me to be responsive in a positive manner when You prompt me to make changes in my thoughts, words, and actions. Help me to give You with control of my life and not continue to choose selfishly for myself. Thank You, Father, for hearing my prayer as I offer it up in the name of Jesus! Amen.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mellie
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 09:27:32

    This is my prayer as well. Thank you for sharing it with me.


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