I think all of us can relate to the fact that we are in a spiritual war. We are soldiers in the Lord’s army and our war occurs on multiple fronts. We fight spiritually against the powers and principalities, but we also battle against the flesh.
It is this later front that I want to focus on – the flesh.
I think that many of us can think of times that we have lost battles. We remember occasions where our flesh claimed a victory. While we don’t like to admit it, we lose more often than we would like. So, how do we keep from discouragement? How can we change so that we stop losing?
Gal 5:16 says, “Walk by the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” Isn’t that such a hopeful promise? Does that also explain why I lose as often as I do? Whenever I am not walking by the Spirit I will fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
That raises the most important question of all – what does it mean to walk by the Spirit? The simplest answer is that the person is living according to what the ministry of the Spirit is doing in his/her life. But that requires us to ask yet another
question, “What is the ministry of the Spirit?”
While that answer requires far more than a simple article, here are 4 of the most prominent answers.
#1. Since the Spirit brings conviction, repentance is the proper response
There is much that can be said about repentance, but here are some of the more relevant issues. First, the repentant acknowledge his/her wrong actions as sin before the Lord. Second, the repentant investigate how that sin “was a good idea” in the first place apart from blaming others. Third, the repentant accept the consequences of their actions. May the Lord help us respond like this to the Spirit’s conviction.
#2. Since the Spirit guides through the Word of God,
growing in our understanding and obedience to the Word is the proper response
This point is not equivalent to doing devotions, but rather like the Psalmist “meditating day and night.” It is having a focus on the Word all the time that directs our steps. In other words, the person who is winning the war thinks about the Word and obeys it.
#3. Since the Spirit prays with groaning too deep for words, prayer is the proper response
We are not too busy to pray, but sometimes it seems like it. When we convince ourselves that we are too busy, then we are no longer taking seriously the work of the Spirit in our lives, and thus we may become primed for fulfilling the lusts of the flesh.
#4. Since the Spirit gives gifts to use in the body of Christ, service is the proper response.
Every believer is given an important function in the body of Christ. These functions are Spirit designed. Thus, when we are not functioning in that way, we cannot say that we are walking by the Spirit.
Winning the war is not easy, but we take comfort and hope that victory is possible through the ministry of the Spirit. So let’s commit to walking by the Spirit. The end result will be the glory of God and the winning of the war against the flesh.