Living By The Flesh Or The Spirit?

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (Galatians 5:16, 17 NASB)

How many times do we just throw our hands up and give up because of the desires of our flesh? If we are honest with ourselves, it is probably more often then we care to confess. What is it to carry out the desires of the flesh? Well, if we continue to read on in Galatians, Paul is very clear about what the desires of the flesh are:

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 NASB)

Wow! That’s quite the list! And a few of those stab me personally right in the heart! It’s the conviction of the Holy Spirit. That is why we have the Holy Spirit so that we begin to wrestle inside of ourselves to not please ourselves, but to have the desire to please our Father.

If we are choosing to please our Father, the characteristics that we should display are the following:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:22-24 NASB)

It’s a totally different set of character traits. It’s how I imagine Jesus. The two different lists of desires are as opposite as night and day. The first allows us to fall prey to the world. The second requires that we die to self.

In raising our broken hearted children, how often do we fall victim to the flesh instead of the comfort and wisdom of the Spirit? Yes, as parents our buttons will be pushed, but it is a decision that we have to make…do I react (of the flesh) or do I respond (of the Spirit)? I don’t write this to point fingers at anyone but myself. However, it is a question that I want you to answer as well.

As moms we tend to set the tone for our homes. Are we choosing to live by the Spirit? Or do we live of the flesh? Do we allow ourselves to hold onto bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, and strife? Do we allow ourselves to have excuses to behave this way because it is difficult raising broken children? I recently heard moms discussing that they “deserved” a glass of wine after doing such and such. That would be of the flesh because they think they “need” this to get through the challenges and trials. Or I have the “right” to be angry and have outbursts with my child because…

We need to stop and think about our reasons for doing something and check to see if our response is one of flesh or Spirit. In our struggles are we turning to God and the Spirit or are we turning to the flesh where we fall victim to the world…the place where Satan desires for us to linger.

Just as we are working towards leading our children to the cross, we also need to demonstrate it. We can demonstrate it by striving to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit. When we are struggling, we need to be in the Word. Spend time with godly women who live by the Spirit. Allow our fleshly desires to be challenged. Maybe we need to evaluate our coping skills and work towards developing our fruits of the Spirit instead.

It is a daily challenge. Believe me…I know! Daily I have to die to myself. Daily the Spirit wrestles within me! Daily I cry out to God! I seek godly counsel that will take my venting full circle and ALWAYS lead me back to God. It is when I seek counsel that doesn’t take me back to God that I stumble. We are on this journey together…this journey of learning to stretch our love to places that we never thought it could reach. Dying to ourselves and finding our NEW identity in Christ!

Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and rally along side of one another!

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