Walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh

According to BibleGateway.com, the Verse of the Day for January 16, 2018 was found in Galatians 5:16 (NIV):

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Most amazingly this verse is one I discuss in detail in my forthcoming book that gives an account of my 18-year battle and ultimate victory over prostate cancer. Stay tune to Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe as the publication details unfold. Here is an excerpt from the section “The real battle field is the mind” where I talk about the mental or emotional challenges confronting me when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer 18 years ago.

My experience helped me to understand more fully this intense conflict raging within every 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

Galatians 5: 16-18 in the Amplified Bible:

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 doesn’t 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.

During the time of my internal struggles “to get it together and keep it together,” I was teaching a class on America literature, and one of the writers whom we discussed was Colonial poet Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672), who 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 can determine 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.

Every moment of the day, as believers we must decide the direction we will take, whether we will walk in the spirit or walk in the flesh.

Hosannah! Music closes our discussion with “Walking in the Spirit,” a medley to remind us where we desire to be:

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