Galatians 5:17 :
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, that you may not do the things that you desire.
So, here’s the problem we don’t talk enough about. Everyone knows that we as Christians still have evil desires, yet, we often act as if we don’t. Here, Paul makes it very clear. The flesh, the stuff we were born with from Adam the first sinner, is constantly pulling us one direction while the new creature that we are in Christ is continually pulling us the other.
When you become a Christian, your life doesn’t really get easier does it? As Christians we gain the most Powerful Friend and three powerful enemies. One of those enemies is your own flesh and as soon as you become a Christian, it starts to make itself known. Where before you would have just gone with the flesh, now it has become an obvious enemy of your soul.
I have struggled with the interpretation of the part here that says, “that you may not do the things that you desire.” I have heard very respectable preachers say opposite things about the interpretation of this verse. Some say that it is saying that the Spirit keeps you from doing the things you really want to do in your flesh. Others say that the emphasis is the opposite and that the Bible is saying that the flesh keeps us from doing the things we really would rather do in the Spirit.
Although I believe that the second idea is true because of our new creation and who we are in Christ, I don’t think that’s what was written here in the Bible. I think that what is written here is simply this: “When you are living Spiritually, your flesh is not able to do what it wants and when you are living fleshly, your spirit is not able to do what it wants.” In other words, when one is active, the opposite desire are subjected by force. We can either lean on the Holy Spirit and follow through with our good desire, or trust our own power and allow our flesh rule, making our spirit incapable of following through with its’ desire.
Notice that we don’t have the option to say that we don’t have bad desires! We do because we are still in the bodies we were born with. We still have bad desires even though they are not a sin in themselves. It becomes sin is when those desires are not subjected to the Holy Spirit that they may be put to death. In Christ we died and by faith we can recognize this and the Holy Spirit will make our flesh powerless.
Notice that this is not a 12 step process. It is a one step process: rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. Don’t be fooled by religions that masquerade as “programs” that are supposed to get you free from your flesh. Faith in God has nothing to do with a process that we follow. We must trust in the Power Holy Spirit not in our ability to follow steps.