What Is this Spiritual Battle We Face?

Biblical Authority Devotional: The Spirit vs. the Flesh, Part 1

by Jeremy Ham on July 19, 2011

Jeremy Ham, AiG–U.S., introduces a new devotional series by discussing the true nature of the battle we fight.

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. (Galatians 5:17)

Today’s big question: what is this spiritual battle we face?

In this devotional series, we will focus on the Spirit vs. the flesh and examine the works each one produces. As Christians, we still struggle with the flesh because our bodies have not yet been “raised incorruptible” (1 Corinthians 15:52). However, we can praise God that we “are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18), thanks to Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. We no longer face condemnation for the deeds of the flesh.

Furthermore, “those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). The reason we now struggle with the flesh is because our “passions and desires” have changed. The Holy Spirit lives within us and gives us a new devotion—to God rather than to ourselves. Since “we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).

When we walk in the Spirit, our lives will exhibit “the fruit of the Spirit,” which “is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23). On the other hand, “the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like” (Galatians 5:19–21).

Believers are fighting a spiritual battle, not a physical one. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). In other words, our fight is not against people but against spiritual powers. In order to properly understand this spiritual battle, we should start by understanding ourselves—the struggle between the Spirit and our own flesh.

So as we study the Spirit vs. the flesh along with the works of each one, keep this spiritual warfare in mind and work toward making God’s truth your foundation. Knowing the war we fight is one of the first steps in being able to defeat the lusts of the flesh by instead walking in the Spirit.

Remember, we are not alone. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Moreover, we should keep in mind to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). With the Holy Spirit and the help of brothers and sisters in Christ, God has certainly given us more than we need fight this spiritual battle and walk in the spirit.

Today’s big idea: with God on our side, we can win the war over our own flesh.

What to pray: ask God to give you understanding of His Word as you study the things of the Spirit.

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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.