Galatians 5:17. 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.
Often the Christian life is reduced down to sin management. Or trying hard not to sin all the time. In this strategy, desire is almost always seen as bad, and the way to holiness is seen as the suppression of all desire.
Of course this is not the way of the Bible, God, or the life of Christ. We ARE desire. We are living souls, nephesh, throats. Without desire there is not life or living. Look again at Galatians 5:17. The solution to our flesh problem isn’t the suppression of desire. In fact it’s the opposite. The solution is to let the desires of the Spirit overpower the desires of the flesh.
How do the desires of the Spirit of Christ stand a chance against my sinful, fleshly, self promoting desires? We must understand that the desires of Christ have truly been placed into us by the Spirit. This is a spiritual reality for each person who has the indwelling life of Christ. The deepest desires of our heart are met by Christ in us. When we begin to see that the desires of the flesh are actually shallow desires that point us to deeper desires, and when we believe that these deeper desires are met by God in Christ, then we can begin to see the victory of the Spirit over the flesh.
Let me share an example.
Your flesh seeks the approval of those around you, kids, boss, friends, those you minister too, etc. The approval of others is not a bad desire, but the flesh seeks to satisfy it through self promotion, living up to expectations, rule keeping, or even rule breaking. Now this desire actually points to a deeper desire- acceptance, control, peace, respect. These things are satisfied only by Christ and the gracious gift of undeserved, unconditional love. So I, in my freedom, choose to be satisfied with Christ’s love for me, rather than running to the dead end of people pleasing. Now the Spirit is overwhelming the flesh.
“To live is Christ” means that I have the love of God within me. His acceptance and approval at all times. This is both my greatest desire and it meets all my lesser desires. I no longer have to live up to a standard in order to gain that acceptance; the cross and resurrection of Christ have united me to the One who has met all standards and gained approval.
What do you do when you feel the battle raging? Have you allowed your shallow desires to point you to your greater desire- God himself? How has Christ satisfied these desires recently?