Last week I ended by saying that we who are followers of Christ are in a battle with our minds. On one hand, we want to choose life because we know God’s ways are always the best choice. On the other hand, we have this inward desire to lean toward our old, sinful ways: anger, jealousy, bitterness, slander, pride, manipulation; are you following me?
This battle is pictured in the book of Galatians (5:17) as ‘trench warfare’. Two opposing sides that are constantly fighting each other. Who are the opposing sides? Paul tells us that they are the sinful nature and new nature. The new, Holy Spirit-controlled nature deeply desires to do what’s right but it is constantly in battle with our old, sinful nature, trying to keep us from our good intentions. This is a constant battle of two opposing sides or forces; that’s why Paul pictures it as trench warfare. The illustration is a military one, two trenches or ditches that have been dug by the opposing sides. You choose to be in one side or the other but you can’t remain in the middle without being shot.
What strategy do we have to stay in the right trench and win our battles? Gal. 5:16 gives us the answer:
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. (Galatians 5:16 NLT)
Paul encourages us to be in constant communion with the Spirit of God when those choices need to be made. He is our commanding officer, given by the Father, to guide us in our choices. In other words, talk to God about it. He will help you stay on the side of your new nature that wants to do what’s right and pleasing to God. It’s the side that’s safe and protected.
How do you know which side is winning in these battles of the flesh and the Spirit? Read on in Gal. 5:22-26. The Holy Spirit will produce fruit in your life as you stay on the right side. Instead of anger, jealousy, or bitterness you’ll see love, joy, and peace. Instead of slander, pride, or manipulation you’ll see patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control. Your life will begin to change; you’ll see it and so will others.
God is faithful to His children. He loves us and desires for us to walk in the freedom of good choices. As you ponder your trenches today, anger or joy, bitterness or forgiveness, pride or humility, which side sounds better to you? Dig in and have a great week!