How we live personally and the choices we make in our own lives affects in a major way who we are in the church and indeed in all our relationships with one another.
Paul writes in Galatians 5:13: You were called to be free, but do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh or the sinful nature.
When we come into this world, all we know is the flesh. That’s the level we operate at. When we invite Jesus into our lives, repenting of our sin and being born again, then we are called to live to the Spirit. That’s when the battle begins. In v 17 we read: The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature – this is the battle that we wage all the rest of our lives. The ‘I’ in us is used to wielding control and does not naturally give way to control by the Spirit. But it matters, not just to us but to the Body, the Church, because the way we behave, the way we fight in this battle will make a difference to everyone else.
Read what the sinful nature wants in verses 19-21.
Now read what the Spirit brings in verses 22-23. They are in stark contrast to each other. In verse 24 it says: Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
Verse 25 reads: Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. It sounds really nice! But it’s a daily, life-changing battle that will change us and all around us as we engage with it. Paul then gives us a final reminder of how it works through in our relationships – v26: Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying one another.
Are you ready for the daily, hourly battle to put the ‘I want’ in its place and give way to the wonderful freedom of life, keeping in step with the Spirit? We get to choose who is control; whether we bite and devour one another or serve one another in love. (vv 13-15)