Tag Archives: spirit vs flesh

Seeking God’s Desires

Have you seen those videos where a parent offers a piece of candy or something sweet to a toddler and asks them not to eat it? A friend of mine did this recently. They put a piece of candy on the night stand with their two year old looking at it. They told him, “Mommy is going to get something in the other room. Don’t eat that until I get back. Ok?” She walked out of the room for about 30 seconds to a minute. This kid could hardly take his eyes off the candy while she was gone. He licked his lips a couple of times, looked at the door , looked back at the candy and waited? It was fun to watch. Im not sure I could have waited!

John the Baptist was a unique and incredible guy. Despite his looks, diet and living conditions, he amassed a huge following. He preached a powerful message of repentance and it caused many hearts to turn back to God. Not long after he baptized Jesus, the crowds began to grow around Him as well. Even some of John’s followers left him to follow Jesus. Some of his other followers began to get jealous that the crowds around Jesus were larger than theirs. John quickly responded that he had told them he wasn’t the Messiah. Then in John 3:30 he told them that Jesus must increase and he must decrease.

There’s a constant battle in all of us very similar to both of these stories. We have a strong desire pulling us toward what we want and a spirit inside pulling us toward what God desires. 1 Peter 4:2 says, “So live the rest of your earthly life no longer concerned with human desires but consumed with what brings pleasure to God” (TPT). It’s tough to do. John had the right heart and attitude that we should have. We must remember that life is not about us or our desires. We have to live with eternity in mind and choose to let God’s desires and plans increase in our life instead of our own. Matthew 6:33 reminds us to seek first the Kingdom of God. When we do that, everything else falls into place.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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Pleasing God

I was able to attend a Christian school for junior high and high school. During my freshman year, one of my teachers told us to get our Bibles out and a pen. He had us open them up to Romans 7. We were instructed to read it once, then go back through it with our pen. Each time we read the words, “I, me, my, myself,” etc., we were to circle them. We were then told to read Romans 8. After we read it, go back through it and circle, “Spirit, God, Jesus, Christ,” etc. Once finished, we had to go back and count them in each chapter. There were a lot of circles in my Bible between the two. Towards the end of chapter 7, Paul wrote, “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong” (NLT). He then said he was a wretched, miserable person trying to live like a Christian on his own. He wrapped up that chapter by asking, “Who will free me from this life dominated by sin?” He then answered his own question with Jesus.

Chapter 8 starts off by reminding us that there is no condemnation for those in Christ. I love that he included that because so many times we condemn ourselves because we fall prey to what Paul was talking about in trying to follow Jesus by willpower alone. He then starts writing about the battle between the Holy Spirit and our flesh, and how they’re always at war because they have two different goals. One is to please yourself, and the other wants to please God. He then makes a bold statement saying, “For if you live by its (the flesh’s) dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.” It becomes clear at this point in the chapter that we must learn to let the Spirit lead our lives if we’re going to live how God wants us to. It becomes a matter of who we choose to listen to.

As I read Philippians 2, it talks about us needing to have the mind and attitude of Jesus. He lived a Spirit led life doing what God wanted Him to. After encouraging us to live the way God wants us to, he encourages us in verse 13 with, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” God is at work in you and me, helping us to live Spirit led lives. We don’t have to try to do it on our own. His Holy Spirit resides in us, guides us and works in us to build us up into the people He’s called us to be. If you’re struggling like Paul wrote about at the end of Romans 7, remember that Jesus is working in you to free you from the mindset that you can do it on your own. Let God do His work in your life. Give the Holy Spirit control. Then remember that there is no condemnation for you. There will always be a struggle with your flesh as long as you live in it, but God’s Spirit is in you, working to give you the power to live a life that pleases Him.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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