Gal. 5:16-17 – “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For 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.”
There is a serious obstacle in the spiritual lives of many Christians, and that is the uncrucified flesh. The flesh refers to the old, sinful nature of believers (the old man or the old self) and therefore represents worldliness emanating from a carnal mind. The flesh is only crucified in principle when one is saved, and this offers you the possibility of prevailing over it through the cross of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. The command in Gal. 5:16 is very clear: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” But the next verse (Gal. 5:17) describes the obstacle of the old self that must first be overcome before you will be able to live unrestrained and victoriously in the Spirit.
The flesh and the Spirit are contrary to one another; consequently, you are not really free to follow the guidance of the Spirit and to doing the things that you wish. How should the obstacle of the old nature be removed? By crucifying it. You should fully surrender yourself to the Lord and ask Him to crucify the flesh with its lusts and desires – that old self who is still inclined to the world and to sin. If you do not fully surrender yourself you will never prevail over sin and make no progress in your spiritual life. This is a condition for the filling of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit cannot fill and control you before the old nature has been crucified. Paul says that he glories in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, “by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).
After you have taken this step, the Holy Spirit will endue you with the new nature of Jesus Christ, which will allow you to daily grow up to spiritual maturity. Will you fully surrender yourself? Paul charged the Ephesians, “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:22-24). To the Colossians he said, “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man” (Col. 3:9-10).
Most people fail to take this step, as was also the case among the Corinthians. Paul reproached them for their lax attitude and said, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal [fleshly]. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” (1 Cor. 3:1-3). We should be saved from this deplorable state if we wish to be overcoming Christians who walk in the Spirit. The flesh inclines us away form the Lord by confining us to a small world of selfish interests, sin and worldly pleasures. The Spirit, on the other hand, has come to introduce us to a deeper life of godliness, the joy of the Lord, and victory over sin. You will have to make a choice.
Prayer: “Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You did not only come to forgive our sins and to save us but that You also sent the Holy Spirit to give us power to prevail over the forces of the enemy, to guide us into all truth, and to endue us with your divine nature. Make each of us willing to surrender ourselves fully and to put down the old nature and all its works that separate us from You. We surrender the flesh to be crucified as he often causes us to stumble and draw us away from You. Fill us with your Spirit and guide us along the way of victory, godliness and the bearing of fruit which befit repentance. Amen.”
References: Johan Malan