WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – Selfishness is at the core of the human soul, and it doesn’t disappear when we’re saved. Out of it arise what the Bible calls “the desires of the flesh,” resulting in discord, envy, excessive anger, sexual immorality, drunkenness, etc. Our selfish desires tempt us to be less than we are, act worse than we want, and hurt people we’d rather bless. Where can we find relief?
Determination and discipline are good places to start. Keeping our inborn selfishness in check results in less harm to those around us. But before long, most of us figure out that willpower just isn’t enough. We’ll get victory in one area only to be tripped up in another. When we’re ready to try a better way, Paul is ready to teach us what he taught the Galatians:
“Walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control … Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:16-18, 22-24).
WONDERFUL THING IN MY LIFE – That first statement looks like a guarantee to me, so I want us to know what it means to “walk by the Spirit” if that’s our only hope to “certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
Our “walk” means the typical way we live as we walk through this life. The NIV translates this command, “live by the Spirit.” The “Spirit” refers to the Holy Spirit of God. As Paul said in the previous chapter, “God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts” (Gal. 4:6).
So, to walk by the Spirit means to live our daily lives depending on, communicating with, and surrendered to the Spirit of Jesus in us. It is what happens when “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:19).
When I try to “live my life for Jesus,” I am dependent on me and my personal discipline not to give in to the natural desires of my flesh. I succeed or fail depending on the strength of my will and character at the moment. That’s not the way to go.
When I consciously “let Jesus live His life through me,” He does what is completely natural to Him, which is the opposite of what is natural to me: He does not carry out the desire of the flesh but instead produces the fruit of the Spirit – and He does that in me.
If this sounds like a repeat from chapter 2, it’s because the Bible teaches this over and over. Let’s stop trying to get our flesh under control and make it look more like Jesus. Instead, let’s do with it the only thing that Paul taught it’s good for: Crucify it. Then let’s turn to Jesus and say, “I’m dead, Lord. Please live Your life in me.”