For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
Galatians 5:16-17, 5:24
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 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…And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,
Jesus spoke much about your heart – that you worship what you treasure. The apostle Paul likewise reiterated the same train of thought through the above Scriptures. The battles we face are best managed by how well you and I channel our desires.
Without allowing God’s Spirit access into our deepest desires, the carnal wants will have their way with you and I. When we focus on the Spirit and God’s character, we are aiming towards the eternal, long-term benefits which we all know is good and beneficial for all, but delayed gratification is not one of humanities greatest strengths.
The other day, I had a strong desire for chocolate. Our neighbor, who loves to cook, stopped by with a plate of peanut butter cookies along with a plastic bag of chocolate bars. Good, expensive, dark chocolate. The type that is good for you. However, if you have an addiction towards sweet foods, not the best thing to have around. In less then a day, I had devoured the entire bag and could have eaten more. Thankfully there was nothing more available.
I slipped and satisfied my bodily desires. If I had immediately gotten rid of them the moment they entered into our house, I wouldn’t have indulged in my lust. But, I didn’t. Instead, I gave into my fleshly desire and consumed ½ pound of chocolate within minutes.
Though this is a small, carnal desire in comparison with other more harmful, destructive acts, it’s a lesson that I remind myself of the importance of walking with God’s Spirit in full surrender at all times. That the battle we face each day is with how we respond to the desires that continually are filtered through our inner world.
Over the years there are many times that I simply pushed the chocolate away from me without any temptation. Other times when I least expect, the temptation comes and I give in. The solution is knowing yourself and how best to fight against your weaknesses and perceived strengths.
When we are prayed-up, focused outward based on a Christ-centered base, the temptation is simply batted away. However, when we are empty, swaying far from the center of reality and truth, our self-centered, carnal desires easily flow with no godly boundaries in place. We are like a castle whose walls have been penetrated by the enemy. The battle is soon lost.
But thankfully we have a God who gracefully understands our human weaknesses and loves us even more than we can fathom. He restores us like the child who falls for the umpteen time, but her loving dad picks her up and encourages her to keep on trucking. Eventually the falls occur less and less, and maybe, the child even grows up and wins a goal medal in the Olympics.
Who knows what the future brings? But until then, the battle lies with the desires that explode us. I for one am grateful for our King who has gone before us, won the battle with the enemy, and now mentors us on how best to fight the carnal desires that evade us.
How? Holy Spirit have your way with us!
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