In my last post, I finished my look at the Fruit of the Spirit. Now we’ll move on to the rest of the book of Galatians.
In this letter, Paul says something that I think we never fully understand what he’s implying.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
The Apostle Paul makes this statement or others like it, throughout his writings. But do we understand what he’s telling us?
We read that our sinful nature (also called our old self or the flesh) has been crucified. Because of that truth, some have said that their old nature is dead. But that’s not entirely true.
The trouble is that being crucified is not the same as being killed. Crucifixion is a long, slow, agonizingly painful process. It’s not as simple as being shot in the head.
To say that our old self is crucified means that it’s still hanging on to life. It still has hope that you’ll change your mind and take it down from the cross.
Another problem we find is that the flesh, even while it’s being crucified, never stops talking. It continues to try and exert influence over your actions. Dealing with the old nature is never a one-time decision.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
The phrase put to death in this verse literally means to deaden. This speaks about the process of making something dead rather than death itself. Dealing with our flesh is an ongoing project. It’s not something you can accomplish overnight.
I only wish that there was one prayer I could recite and be done with it. The truth is that it’s an ongoing battle that will-power or good intentions alone will never win. Then where does the victory over the flesh come from?
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live…
This verse also talks about the process of putting something to death. You can never kill the misdeeds of the flesh, but you can deaden them by the spirit.
Victory over the sinful nature can only be won in the spirit. That’s one of the reasons that prayer in the spirit is so important. The more time spent in God’s presence, the deader the influence of the flesh.
It’s unfortunate that so many people teach the will-power method. They tell you to just choose not to do what the flesh wants. You can usually tell who these people are. The older they get, the more permanent the frown is on their face!
I, personally, want to be free from my sinful nature – but I want to walk in the joy of the Lord at the same time. The answer is the walk of the spirit. That’s why Paul sums it all up with the following statement.
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Cultivate your spiritual walk. That’s the only way to beat the sinful nature.
Question: What’s your experience with the walk of the spirit controlling the flesh?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017