The struggle between the Spirit and the flesh

The Holy Spirit as a dove in the Heavenly Trinity joined to the Earthly Trinity through the Incarnation of the Son, in The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities by Murillo, c. 1677

The flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

Galatians 5:17.

“Liberty” is a characteristic of the calling of God’s children, but it is not the freedom to act according to one’s own will. but to fulfil the will of God, serving one another in love and bearing each other’s burdens. The power to lead our lives in such liberty and in holiness as Christians is the Holy Spirit. “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (v.16).

The law, that is, so to speak, God’s minimal requirement of natural man, gives no-one the strength to live according to God’s will and resist the lust of the flesh. Our good resolutions always fail through human frailty. The Spirit of God alone is the necessary power; there is no other. Now the Spirit and the flesh, two opposing forces, are present in every believer, so long as he is on earth. They struggle against each other. Which will conquer? “Walk in the Spirit”, the apostle says, that is, “Let Him direct you,” and “you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”

We should not attempt to intervene in this struggle, by fighting against the flesh. We are unable to do so. But if we allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit of God and are orientated towards Christ, we shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh as a result. Christians have received a new life whose inclinations are in harmony with the Holy Spirit. Under His leading they are therefore able to follow Christ appropriately.

Image: By Bartolomé Esteban Murillo – The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202.Web Gallery of Art:   Image  Info about artwork, Public Domain,