The Promise of Victory Over Sin

An Eskimo fisherman came to town every Saturday afternoon. He always brought his two dogs with him. One was white and the other was black. He had taught them to fight on command. Every Saturday afternoon in the town square the people would gather and these two dogs would fight an … More

Warfare

Paul describes the two conflicting forces that operates within every believer (vv. 16-17). The believer still has within him the old nature, the flesh; it is not eradicated, as some would have you believe, but is to be made subject to the new nature. The terrible mistake made by so many misinformed Christians is trying to gain the victory by their own efforts, by the works of the law, instead of a complete yielding and surrender of the Spirit of God (v. 18). When the flesh tempts me, I don’t need to run to the Ten Commandments to see if it forbids it but ask myself is this honoring to God? If you desire to have the qualities listed in 5:22-23, chances are the Holy Spirit will be leading you. Being led by the Holy Spirit involves the desire to obey the Word of God and the sensitivity to discern between your feelings and His promptings.

Most of us tend to react in extremes and have a very hard time keeping our lives in balance. We tend to either allow legalists to come and steal our liberty or  drift into license. Paul describes the problem of how the Spirit and the flesh have different appetites (v. 17). He is not denying that there is victory but is pointing out that we cannot win victory in our own strength. The solution is not to pit our will against the flesh but to surrender our will to the Holy Spirit (vv. 19-21). Being led by the Holy Spirit  involves the desire to hear, the readiness to obey God’s Word, and the sensitivity to discern between  my feelings and His promptings. We need to live each day controlled and guided by the Holy Spirit. Then the words of Christ will be in our mind, the love of Christ will be behind our actions, and the power of Christ will help us control our selfish desires.

Application

The question for me to ask is not, does the law forbid this or that. Instead it should be, how will my action affect the glory of God, my testimony before men, and my personal sanctification?

Galatians 5:16-21 (English Standard Version)

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 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. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

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