Galatians 5:16-18 KJV (NIV Link below)
16This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
An Inward Battle
Paul here describes the inward battle we all have, and the way to win it (sorta). He notes that there are two competing forces within every Christian, and they are focused on opposite ends. There is the flesh or ourselves and the Spirit of God. This is why Paul has been so insistent that we cannot add or take away from our salvation by the works of the flesh we do (or don’t do). The works of the law, those things we do under our own power, are contrary to the Spirit of God. And so within the Christian there is a battle between these two minds: the mind of God and the mind of our own flesh.
This is not the only time Paul has described an inner conflict between these two natures. In his letter to the Romans, where Paul also talks at length about the relationship of the Gospel to Law, he recounts his own struggle. His conclusion is that though he wants to good, he finds himself unable to do so under his own strength, but Christ sets us free from that bondage so that we may escape our own wretchedness. This is a common struggle, but Paul offers a sort of solution.
Paul’s solution to this dilemma? Walk (live) by the Spirit. Oh, right then, that’s all sorted. Well, this is clearly more easily said than done, and, as I’ve mentioned above, Paul is certainly aware of that fact. Nevertheless that is the only solution to this inner struggle. It is to stop trying to fight the battle in your own strength, which will inevitably lead you to lose the fight, and instead focus on your walk with God. The way to win the battle, then, is not to focus on the battle, but focus on Christ who has already won the battle for you. Be led by the Spirit and escape the law.
What do you think? Put your thoughts below. Do you experience this inner struggle? Do you, at times, feel like it is too difficult to fight? What do you think Paul means by calling our Christian life a “walk”? Do you sometimes feel “wretched” as Paul describes himself in Romans? Does it help to know that, for Christ, you are redeemed a saint? Is it somewhat odd to be at this interim where you are both sinner and saint?