The Verse of the Day for January 16, 2017 comes from Galatians 5:16, but to understand more fully this particular verse, we need to examine verses 16-18 which reveal the conflict that rages within each believer: the ongoing battle between good and evil, the constant struggle between fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and walking by the spirit. This dilemma is sharply delineated in the Amplified Bible:
Galatians 5: 16-18 (AMPC):
16 But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).
17 For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do.
18 But if you are guided (led) by the [Holy] Spirit, you are not subject to the Law.
Paul goes on to draw a sharp contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit.
This never-ending internal conflict is also depicted in Romans 7:18-25, where Paul speaks of his desire to do good , to do the right thing, but he winds up doing the very thing that he does not want to do, and regrettably he does not do what he so longs to do:
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.
22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
Colonial poet Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) personalizes the constant conflict raging within her own mind and within every Christian believer in this excerpt from “The Flesh and the Spirit”:
I heard two sisters reason on
Things that are past and things to come.
One Flesh was call’d, who had her eye
On worldly wealth and vanity;
The other Spirit, who did rear
Her thoughts unto a higher sphere.
This intense internal conflict is depicted in this original poem as a fight where each individual determines the outcome:
Two Ravenous Wolves
An elder Cherokee chief took his grandchildren
into the forest and sat them down and said to them,
‘A fight is going on inside me. This is a terrible fight
and it is a fight between two wolves.
One wolf is the wolf of fear, anger, arrogance and greed.
The other wolf is the wolf of courage, kindness,
humility and love. . . .This same fight between the’
two wolves that is going on inside of me
is going on inside of you, and inside every person.”
Rabbi Marc Gellman
Two ravenous wolves wage constant warfare within.
Each stalks the other, striving to survive, to reign.
One embodies fear, anger, arrogance, and greed,
The other courage, kindness, humility and love:
One a sinister serpent, one a gentle dove.
Each tries to gain the upper hand and to restrain
Its foe, but only one will rise to seize the lead.
Each is seeking to dominate, driven to gain.
One will be defeated–only one will remain.
Since each beast demands the opposite kind of food,
We select the diet, whether evil or good.
In each conflict, the soul determines who will win,
For wolves are ravaged by an all-consuming need,
And we decide the wolf we starve, the wolf we feed.
David W. Morris offers “Walking in the Spirit Medley” (Hosannah! Music), musical reminder of where we should be walking.