This post is the third lesson in a 6-week study series on the Fruit of the Spirit. (You can still access previous posts: Intro, One, or Two.) You can read today’s post and make notes in a journal or print the PDF version!
I fought this particular battle many times. And I’ve watched many other moms fight it too. It happens every day in grocery checkout lines all over the world. The preschooler wants candy. The mom does not want the preschooler to have candy. And so the battle begins.
The preschoolers fight with every weapon in their arsenal – tears, pleadings, promises of good behavior, and even temper tantrums. Moms draw the line to defend healthy teeth and a nutritious diet. Who will win?
Sometimes the mom wins. Sometimes the kid wins. The outcome depends on willpower and determination. The kids have an advantage because they don’t care how many people stare and whisper. They value the candy much more than their self-respect. Sometimes the battle-weary mom just wants to get out of the store alive, even if that means giving in. At least she will live to fight another day.
The candy battle in the checkout line is a minor skirmish compared to the spiritual battle going on inside every Christian. Our sinful human nature wants to satisfy our selfish desires. The indwelling Holy Spirit calls us to follow Him. Who will win?
Plant: The two sides in this spiritual battle
Read Galatians 5:16-18 for a description of our spiritual battle.
Let’s identify the sides in this battle. Paul says the Spirit wants one thing and the sinful nature (some translations use flesh) wants another. The Greek word pneuma, translated as “Spirit,” can also be translated as “breath” or “wind.” Like the wind, the Holy Spirit is an unseen but “powerful force with visible effects” (Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary). “Sinful nature” or “flesh” is the Greek word sarx. Although this word primarily referred to the physical body, Christians also used it to describe our fallen, sinful nature. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary describes this usage: “Sarx came to mean all the evil that man is and is capable of apart from the intervention of God’s grace in his life.”
Cultivate: Greater is He that is in us
Read Ephesians 1:18-21. Reflect on the power of the Holy Spirit that lives within you.
Unfortunately, our sinful nature still exists. But praise God, we have a weapon of unlimited power on our side. The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives inside every believer! We have the power to resist our fleshly desires through the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit. “The one who is in you, is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4, NIV).
The Holy Spirit does not immunize us against temptation – rather, He enables us to withstand temptation. He imparts to us the ability to turn away from all things that are contrary to God’s plan and purpose for our lives. Charles Stanley, Living in the Power of the Holy Spirit
Read 2 Peter 1:3-4 and 1 Corinthians 10:13. Contemplate God’s promises to you.
Grow: Follow the Spirit
We do not have to give in to sin. Our fleshly nature does not have to win. Jesus’ death and resurrection broke Satan’s death grip on us. Satan can appeal to our sinful desires, but his power over us is limited. We have a greater power at work in us.
Look back at Galatians 5:16-19. We have a choice to make. What is it?
We can choose to refuse our sinful nature. The powerful presence of the Holy Spirit supplies us with the power to be obedient to God. We can choose God’s “way out.” The question is: will we succumb to the call of our flesh or will we yield to the Holy Spirit and walk in His power?
Let’s talk: Think about the last time you faced a spiritual battle. What was it? Did you allow your flesh to win or did you walk in the power of the Holy Spirit? If you gave in to sin, can you identify the “way out” God offered?
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<3 your studies, <3 you. Truth and help shared in an understandable short format for all to benefit from. Of course, The Holy Spirit is a favorite subject and love of mine!! Thanks, Kathy
Loving this series, Kathy. I have a question that you may already intend to address. How do we identify the way out in an unclear situation? For example, I overeat and want to stop. The best thing would be to not buy the stuff in the first place. What is the way out when I’m standing in the grocery store and that ice cream is calling me? Willpower is not enough; it fails too often. Prayer before and during would probably be best, but I just don’t think about it when I decide to run into the store after a long day’s work. I’m not asking you to solve my personal dilemma, but wanted you to know the frame of reference from which I’m asking.
HI Diane, thanks for the question. You are right, it would have been helpful to include some spiritual tactics in this post. Tomorrow’s post is more on repentance. But what you mentioned is top of the tactics list. Protect yourself in areas of know weakness. If food is the issue, don’t buy it, make a list and stick to it, find a different way to deal with stress after a difficult day. That kind of thing. I think of Jesus’ command to the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Watch and pray.” They needed to watch for areas of spiritual weakness to prepare against temptation and pray for God’s strength to stand firm! Thanks for asking the question!
As soon as I sent that comment, I realized (Holy Spirit speaking, I’m sure), that while I may not think to pray ahead of those quick trips to the grocery store on my way home from work, I can develop the habit of praying before my payday shopping. Eventually, that habit will make it’s way into the quick trips. The Lord has provided a way out! Yay!