The War

If you’ve found yourself desiring to do things that you know are wrong, then you’ve experienced the “desire of the flesh.” No doubt you’ve also discovered that when you are tempted by the flesh to do wrong, something on the inside of you resists that temptation. That is “the desire of the Spirit.” And if you know the feeling of conviction that comes on the inside of you when you yield to temptation, then you recognize the voice of your spirit, which we call our “conscience.”

God knew full well that our fleshly desires would tempt us to do wrong. That is not an excuse, however, for us to justify yielding to the desires of the flesh. God still expects us to act in obedience and holiness and to overcome the nature of the flesh:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh (Gal. 5:16).

There is no magical formula for overcoming the flesh. Paul simply said that we should “walk by the Spirit,” and we “will not carry out the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). No Christian has any advantage over any other Christian in this area. To walk after the Spirit is simply a decision we each must make, and our devotion to the Lord can be measured by the degree we do not yield to the desires of the flesh.

Paul similarly wrote:

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24).

Notice Paul says that those who belong to Christ have (past tense) crucified the flesh. That happened when we repented and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. We crucified the sinful nature, deciding to obey God and resist sin. So now it is not a matter of crucifying the flesh, but of keeping the flesh crucified.

It isn’t always easy to keep the flesh crucified, but it is possible. If we will act upon the leadings of the inward person rather than yield to the impulses of the flesh, then we will manifest the life of Christ and walk in holiness before Him.