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. (Galatians 5:17, ESV)
Nothing meaningful in life comes easy. Are you surprised? I am. I mean, my intellectual mind understands the relationship between hard work and satisfying results, yet my “self” seems to consistently be deluded into thinking that a goal should be easy to attain. And then I throw a full-out tantrum mentally and emotionally when things are not happening like I want them to. Can anyone relate? Do I just sound crazy?? I get all mopey and depressed…feeling like I’ll never do anything great in life. I get hopeless; I feel like a
failure and all but give up. And then when I think about it….when I REALLY think about it… I realize that I wasn’t working hard, I was “hardly working.” I was sort of “swatting” at the goal instead of charging at it like an angry bull. I was doing a lot of talking about the goal, and not much actual doing of the goal. And when I FINALLY start this line of thinking, I realize that I haven’t really been doing my part, and I am energized and hopeful of trying again. And so I do. But sadly, the cycle often repeats itself.
The truth is that we really are in a war. Every. Single. Day. The scripture in Galatians says that the desires of the flesh are AGAINST the Spirit and that the desires of the Spirit are AGAINST the flesh. They are OPPOSED to one another. If that doesn’t sound like a battle, I don’t know what does! And why?? What’s the purpose of the flesh rising up against the Spirit? “To keep you from doing the things you want to do.” The things that you WANT to do. Those real, deep, soul-enriching, meaningful things that you WANT to do…but can’t seem to muster up the self-control to actually do. Why? WHY?? Because it is a daily battle, and we often walk into combat half-asleep and unarmed.
Can you picture it? If you knew that you were about to go into a physical battle with someone who wanted to kill you, how would you prepare? Would you train more or take
more naps? Would you try to figure out your opponent’s strategy or would you watch one more movie? Would you work to hone your skill with your weapon or would you go grab a coffee and zone out on Facebook? When we put it in physical terms, it’s really easy to see. Of course we would physically train! Of course we would do our best to learn the strategy of our opponent! Of course we would learn to use our weapon with skill and ease! After all, our lives depend upon it!
But don’t you see, dear one, that this spiritual battle that we’re in, this flesh warring against the Spirit, IS a battle of life and death! Yet we so often come half-hearted, half-baked, and ill-prepared, and wonder why we can’t lead an overcoming life. I don’t know about you, but I have a GOAL of living a Spirit-led life, but I am guilty, guilty, GUILTY of “hardly working” at this goal. I seem to expect that going to church faithfully and “trying” to be good and praying every now and then is going to help me reach my goal. Oh, how many times has Satan had a good laugh at me? He sees me as the unarmed opponent: his easy prey.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The child of God should be leading her life with authority and confidence by the help of the Spirit, not being shifted about and knocked down by every new wave of attack. I have tasted the confidence that comes from being prepared for battle, and I WILL NOT go back. It’s on my mind, it’s in my heart, and there is a constant prayer on my lips. I keep checking in with my Commander-in-Chief to make sure I am following His orders and not going AWOL.
My friend, if you feel like you are losing this battle every day, I encourage you. It doesn’t have to be this way! It doesn’t! God’s plan for us is life to the fullest. That doesn’t mean sunshine and flowers every day, but it DOES mean winning the battle over the desires of the flesh. But you must be constant, intentional, vigilant and prepared. You may be the one going into battle, but be assured, you are never, EVER fighting by yourself!
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear…. (Psalm 118:6, ESV)