Living by the Spirit vs. Living by the Sinful Nature

We need to live by the Spirit in order to bear the good fruit.  Prior to the verses about "Fruit of the Spirit" in Galatians 5 are these verses about living by the sinful nature and living by the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16-18 - “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”

Once we decide to live a life for God, we face the battle between living by the sinful nature and living by the Spirit. 

We are made up of three parts (our own trinity) - the spirit, soul and body.  C.S. Lewis once said, “We do not have a soul, we are a soul.  We have a body.”

Our spirit is the innermost part of our being.  It is the part that stays dead and lifeless (in heavenly terms) until regenerated by the desire to know God.  The soul is the outward part of our spirit, consisting of our mind, emotions and will.  Our bodies are the shell that covers our soul and spirit. 

Our nature is to be sinful. Once the Holy Spirit indwells in our own spirit, we desire to make the changes necessary to live a Godly life.  It can be quite a struggle.  Even when we become mature Christians we may still have to deal with issues from our sinful nature that invade our minds - like Paul’s thorn in his side.

Paul writes in Romans 7:14-25.  “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what the I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.  What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

As I read through these verses, written by my favorite character of the Bible next to Jesus, I immediately think of the times when I’ve been mad at my husband and try to “discuss” it when I’m too emotionally fired up.  This is how I felt.  Thanks be to God, those moments rarely happen anymore.

We still need to know how to fight the sinful nature in order to bear the good fruit - oh, and to have a joyful marriage!

How do we win this battle? - more to come!


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