Galatians 5:16-17. 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 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.
I’m about to tell you one of the most important truths that we must understand for spiritual growth to occur. Here it is:
THERE IS A BATTLE OF DESIRE RAGING IN YOUR SOUL.
The desires of the flesh are against the desires of the Spirit.
Christian, are you aware of this battle in your own soul? Trust me, it’s there. If you don’t recognize this battle, then I’m sorry to say this, but you’re losing. If you do recognize the battle, and especially if it often feels like you’re losing the battle, then you’re probably much closer to victory than you may realize. Why? Because victory in this battle is found in knowing that you’re are in need of constant grace.
Sadly, for many Christians though, spiritual growth is reduced down to a system of sin management – trying hard not to sin all the time. In this strategy desire is almost always seen as bad, and holiness comes when we suppress or overcome our desires.
But this is not the way of the Spirit and our union with Christ. We were not made to suppress our desires. We ARE desire. We are living, thirsty throats – souls. The Spirit in us is NOT at work to extinguish our desires. In fact, quite the opposite. He works in us to quicken and reveal our desires. He wants us to be “thirsty,” knowing that behind every fleshly desire is a deeper desire for Christ that can become the deep desires of Christ himself.
The problem is that most Christians just don’t know what to do with their unhealthy desires. And so most often we default to one of two sinful responses to our sinful desires.
1) We give in to a sinful desire and then feel guilty.
2) We try to suppress the sinful desire by thinking about something else (good luck), or replacing it with another desire (one addiction replaces another), or by sheer will-power or pride we resist the temptation (because a good Christian would never…).
The problem with the first response is pretty clear. The problem with the second response, the one most Christians choose, is that we have dealt with our sin completely through self-effort and self-justification, not our union with Christ.
But the Spirit offers us an option #3 for dealing with our sinful desires: recognizing and admitting the sinful desires of our heart and allowing them to draw our hearts to our greater desire – Christ himself. Let me share an example.
Let’s say you have an unhealthy desire for approval. You just want everyone to like you. Now, being liked by others is not a bad desire, but your flesh seeks to satisfy this desire for approval through self-promotion, or maybe people pleasing. What we need to see is that this desire actually points to a deeper desire in our heart- the desire for love, or respect, or security. Once we identify this deeper desire we can begin to see how only Christ can satisfy us. And by his gracious undeserved, unconditional love my desire for love and respect are being fully met. Now, in my newly realized freedom, I can choose what I desire most – Christ and his love for me. Instead of running to the dead end of people pleasing, I allow the Spirit to defeat the flesh with Christ’s love and grace.
“To live is Christ” is to live in a battle for the desires of your heart. But Christ has won this battle. His desires are yours in Christ. And your deepest desire is for him. Do you believe this?
Can you identify the battle of desire in your soul?
You in Christ
How has Christ satisfied your deeper desires recently?
Christ in you
Where do you need to apply the desires of Christ to a circumstance in your life today?
Click Here to this playlist on Spotify!
To see today’s post from the TLIC Family blog –> Click Here