I’ve written in the past 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; can you identify?
This battle is pictured in the book of Galatians as trench warfare.
The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. (Galatians 5:17 NLT)
Two opposing sides that are constantly fighting each other: the sinful nature and new nature. The new, Holy Spirit-controlled nature deeply desires to do what’s right but it’s constantly in battle with our old, sinful nature, trying to keep us from that right decision. The illustration uses military language, two trenches or ditches dug by the opposing sides. You choose to be on one side or the other but you can’t remain in the middle without being shot.
What strategy do we use to stay in the right trench and win our battles? Paul 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, consequently, when confronted with choices, we choose God’s way. The Holy Spirit is our commanding officer, given to us by the Father to guide us in those decisions. 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, protected and filled with forgiveness, mercy (withholding from someone what they deserve), grace (giving to someone what they don’t deserve), or simply acts of love.
How do you know which side is winning within you 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 recognize 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 opportunities arise today for choices to be made regarding your trenches, anger or joy, bitterness or forgiveness, pride or humility, which side sounds better to you? Dig in and have a great week!