Larry and I got married at 4:00 PM on a blustery fall afternoon in Savannah, Georgia. We pledged our love to each other – made beautiful promises spoken from the heart – at 6:00 PM we left the church and had our first disagreement – married just two hours. What happened?
I have learned that we can attend seminars on:
How to be a better communicator
How to be a better friend, spouse or person
How to be a good parent
But our techniques and lists can’t provide the desire, motivation, love or power to be a better person. We may be able to hold in our anger while in the presence of our boss but we are still seething inside.
How do we break free from the limitations of our temperaments, family backgrounds, and fallen natures to live supernatural lives? To be free, we need to understand the struggle between the “flesh” and the Spirit. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16 NIV).
Some believers are shocked and confused when they wrestle with wrong desires. Some even begin to doubt their salvation. The Scripture warns us about these desires, which are deceitful in at least two ways. First, they lie to us when they promise to satisfy us if we fulfill them. The passing pleasure that accompanies indulging these desires is soon followed by a greater sense of emptiness, and in some cases a lifetime of sorrow and regret (Hebrews 11:25). Second, they lie to us when they pretend to be our desires.
One of the gifts we receive at salvation is a new nature that is Christlike and wants to please God. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17). Also see Ephesians 4:24.
The “flesh” refers to the remnant of who we were before Christ. In this context the “flesh” does not refer to the physical body. Christ, who was sinless, had a physical body. The power it once wielded to control us has been broken (Romans 6:6-7). The flesh now uses deception to control us, generating urges that masquerade as our desires. We feel the yearnings as if they were our desires, but they are the opposite of what we truly want.
To triumph over destructive desires, remember the real you loves God and delights in doing good (Romans 7:19). Like God’s nature, your new nature is loving, forgiving, kind, and patient. As we walk in these truths, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we will win the war within and enjoy satisfying lives that please God.