“For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Galatians 5:17 (NKJV)
The flesh and the Holy Spirit are both at work in us as believers. They are both wrestling for control. What is interesting is that they aren’t wrestling for control over the other. Instead, they are wrestling for control of us. The picture I’ve always had of this struggle was that of the Holy Spirit wrestling with the flesh. There they were locked in an ultimate fighting match just waiting on me to urge one on and make it the stronger one so it could win for a time. I’ve heard illustrations of bulldogs in a fight and the one that wins is the one you feed. But that’s really not the picture Scripture paints.
Instead of the flesh and the Spirit being locked in an ultimate fighting match with one another for victory, they are wrestling with us for control. The flesh is wrestling with us to do the works of the flesh and to give into excesses and just all the desires of the flesh. The Holy Spirit is also wrestling with us to live a disciplined life, resist temptation and do the good things that God has for us.
The one that wins is the one that we surrender to. The one that wins is the one we choose to follow. The flesh cannot match the Holy Spirit for power. What it can do is convince us that its ways are better than the Holy Spirit’s ways. When this happens, we actively resist the leading of the Holy Spirit and willingly submit ourselves to follow the flesh. Believers are always going to resist something and they are always going to surrender to something. Either we are going to resist the Holy Spirit and surrender to the flesh or we are going to resist the flesh and surrender to the Spirit. So if we want win the war that rages within us, what we must do is continually, moment by moment, choose to surrender ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s leading. This constant surrender to the Holy Spirit is also called walking in the Spirit.
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16 NKJV)
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25 NKJV)
When I walk in the Spirit, aka surrender to the Spirit, I will not fulfill the lusts and desires of my sinful nature. Walking in the Spirit is done as I surrender to the Spirit on a moment by moment basis. It is to keep in step with the Spirit in the same way that soldiers keep in step with one another in a parade. If I surrender to the Holy Spirit and move when He moves and step when He steps then I will not give in to the passions and desires of the flesh.
One of my constant prayers is for God to make me sensitive and surrendered to the Holy Spirit’s leadership. I pray this with full confidence because of Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Luke.
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:13 (NKJV)
What can we do to be more sensitive and surrendered to the Holy Spirit?