How To Overcome The Conflict
As many of you might already know, I have begun a Bible Speed Art series looking at the fruit of the Spirit. The first picture for Self-Control has already been released, and the speed art for the Gentleness picture will be released any day now. When we began the series, we started off by looking at Galatians 5:16-26. I mentioned that those verses could be broken down into 3 sections:
- The Conflict (vs. 16-18)
- The Contrast (vs 19-21)
- The Conqueror (vs 22-26)
THE TEXT FOR TODAY
The focus of this post today is going to be the section on The Conflict. So with no further delay, here are the verses:
So I say, live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful natures 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. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. (Galatians 5:16-18)
THE REAL-LIFE STORY
Six or seven years ago my family was shopping in a store in one of our routine outings. My wife was at work gathering the necessary items we needed while I had the duty of keeping Jack entertained and happy. Jack was old enough to be sitting up in the small part of the shopping cart as I pushed him around the store making funny faces, sounds, and silly songs, all of which he laughed at with his infectious laugh and smile. We were having such an amazing time. Looking into his bright, brown eyes, and knowing the love we shared, was bliss beyond words. It’s hard to describe exactly, but a wave of complete and pure love and joy washed over me in that moment, something that was beyond the realm of my understanding. It almost brought me to tears right there in the middle of that store.
But the strangest thing happened next. Suddenly, a new sensation washed over me. And unlike the first one, this new feeling was a complete and broken heart. It was a severe bitterness that also wanted to bring me to tears in the middle of that store. A feeling that I could not understand and that seemed out of place to me in that moment had taken hold of my heart and was horrifying.
“What am I feeling, Lord?” my heart began asking of God. “I was having this beautiful moment with my son. Why am I feeling such heartache right now?” I couldn’t quite understand what was happening, until I heard the Lord’s response.
“The joy you felt was because of the purity and innocence of your son. His love and purity were pleasing to your heart. The bitterness you feel is because, as your son grows up, this world will try to pervert his purity. Every day, the world will slowly chip away at that purity until it’s almost unrecognizable.”
“That’s heart-braking, Lord.” And it was true. I loved my child so much, and wanted only the pure and wonderful things for his life, yet I couldn’t deny the way the world operates. The world is vile and full of corrupt evilness. The world does not like purity and innocence and true, the world was going to come after my son because of it. However, the part that pierced my heart in that moment was when I heard the Lord say,
“Now imagine how I feel. I send you all into this world, but every day you forget about me and thus turn towards the world instead of me. Imagine how I feel for my children.”
That was when I broke down and cried in the middle of the store.
The lesson that God taught me in that store years ago still rings true in my heart to this day. I believe that the story helps us to understand what the Bible is saying in the verses above. To understand the verses however, we have to first acknowledge that when we are born into this world, regardless of how innocent we are to the ways of the world, we are all born into sin and have a sinful nature. Therefore, it is guaranteed that we will try to follow our own sinful natures. We will try to do and say things that will please that nature. We feed our own desires and passions like we’re feeding a pet, thus validating that nature and giving it power and authority in our lives. It is the world that we are born into. There is no way around it. However, there is a way to overcome it, and his name is Jesus.
Jesus was the only man who could say that he had all of the same temptations as us, yet overcame them all. How? Because he was focused on the will of his Father in heaven only. Jesus longed to please his Father by doing his Father’s will. Regardless of what the world thought of him, Jesus was only concerned with obeying his Father. It’s what drove him and led him through his walk on this earth.
What drives you today? Who are you following? Are you led by the Spirit of God or by the sinful nature? The Bible clearly tells us that they are in conflict with each other. They are oil and water; they cannot mix! So, why do we claim to be followers of Jesus with one breath, and say that the way of the world is acceptable with the next? The Holy Spirit and the sinful nature are light and darkness. By the 4th verse of the Bible God clearly makes it known that he separated the light from the darkness (Genesis 1:4), so what does that tell us our lives should be like? This is where the conflict lives! This is the battle that you face everyday if you claim to believe in Jesus.
The problem with the church world today is that the pews and pulpits are filled with people claiming God, yet trying to pull God into their world of the sinful nature. It cannot be done! So why do we continue to live in the conflict? We should put to death the acts of the sinful nature and live in the light, love, joy, and purity of the Spirit of the one true God! The world might be able to taint the purity of an innocent child, but they can never taint the purity of the Spirit within a child of God.
I am a child of God! And although I am not perfect, for we all battle the sinful nature every day, I do raise my eyes to the heavens and focus on the will of my Father for my life! I choose to walk with the Spirit of God and surrender my nature to him, for I am made new in Christ and I stand tall and proud knowing that I have been set free in him.
Are you ready to make that stand in your life? Are you ready to crucify your sinful nature and live in the purpose and destiny that your Creator has for you. The sinful nature leads to death, destruction, and a permanent separation from the only God and Lord who can renew the innocence and purity that the world has stripped away from you. Stop feeding the sinful nature! Walk with God’s Spirit and be set apart from this world! You were born for such a time as this! Perhaps today is the day that you find victory in the conflict!