Galatians 5:17 – “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”
The struggle that God used Paul to describe is all too familiar to most of us. I have heard it referred to numerous times by sincere Christians, using language such as, “It is like there is a battle within me.” It is true. For the born-again follower of Jesus Christ, there is a spiritual battle that goes on inside of us. At times, it is more severe than others, but it will never completely subside this side of Heaven. The battle is between the Holy Spirit and our flesh. It is a battle between right and wrong. The flesh wants to rule our lives. The Holy Spirit also wants to control us. These two powers are real, and they are “contrary the one to the other.”
We never experienced such an internal conflict until we were saved. Before that time, there was no presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We were governed by the power and desires of the flesh. Sometimes these fleshly deeds may have been decent, moral, and respectable, but they were not truly spiritual. As unsaved men, we sought to satisfy the lusts of the flesh. We sought men’s approval and praise, defended our rights, and were satisfied to daily exalt our will as supreme.
But then, Jesus came. When He comes into our lives, He comes in to rule and reign as Sovereign Lord because that is who He is. At that point in time, we were introduced to a battlefield of a new kind. For one thing, new desires are born in us when we are converted to Christ. The true child of God wants to do what is right. He may not always succeed, but there is a new interest in holiness and obedience. Paul wrote, “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Romans 7:22).
Paul goes on to say, “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Romans 7:23). Do not be surprised or dismayed when you find yourself in such an inward conflict. It is familiar to every Christian. One may ask, “How then can this battle be won?” We cannot win over our flesh in the energy of the flesh. It is a spiritual battle. We must walk in the fullness of the Spirit and not give in to the lusts of the flesh.