The Desires of the Flesh and What They Do!

By Richard J. Krejcir
Fruit of the Spirit, Part VIII

Just before the great passage in Galatians that expounds the Fruit of the Spirit comes a warning and a list of the opposites of the good Fruit, the destroyers of churches, relationships, and self!

Fruit of the Spirit, Part VIII

Galatians 5: 16-21

Just before the great passage in Galatians that expounds the Fruit of the Spirit comes a warning and a list of the opposites of the good Fruit, the destroyers of churches, relationships, and self!

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature 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. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:16-21, NIV).

This all comes down to our willingness to either live a life that is led by the Spirit or one that is led by our flesh, that of our pride and will. The flesh, as stated in the Bible, means our finiteness as in our finite or limited ability to comprehend and apply morality, which formulates our moral weakness. This includes our receptiveness and propensity to sin, our inability to see our own situation and respond in kind as God would have us do. One of the main points of the Gospel is that we are given the Holy Spirit to shore up our flesh, so we can be energized by God to live and work His way. Therefore, we have God's presence residing in us so we can overcome our weaknesses and be fruitful. We now have the ability to be moral partakers and representatives of Christ, and to practice the Fruit of the Spirit. The problem is that we still tend to not do this; we are always leaning to sin, even as Christians and church leaders (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 6:13; 15:50; Eph. 5:5). God has given us two paths for life; one is good, the other bad. Two paths to follow, one that leads to joy and contentment and one that leads to destruction and chaos. He guides us to take the high road of His Fruitful Way so our journey in life will be good. However, He does not force us, so the other way is there, the path of the sinful nature, the rotten fruit. These result from our unchecked passions that only see what we want to see, that blind us from God's lighted path (Isa. 27:6; Hos. 10:1; 14:8).

The Call to Reflect God's Character

These Galatian Christians, like many of us today, were in conflict with each other. The KJV tells us they were biting and devouring each other. How terrible a thing it is when our Lord's children forget the magnitude of forgiveness we have received and seek to cause strife, division, and problems in His House. We forget the grace and allow sin to take a foothold in us that causes cancer to His Body! That is what these rotten fruits do; they cause tumors and cancer in the Body of Christ. We then operate as agents of evil, working for Satan, when we do the opposite of His call and plan. The Galatians got that way because of false teachers and people being lazy and not growing in the Word and faith just like we can become ill with physical cancer when we do not take care of our bodies with proper nutrition and exercise. What we need to do is surgically remove the cancer, as in remove the diseased characters both from ourselves personally and from our church collectively. The scalpel of love and forgiveness, prayer and unity will create the healing we all need along with the medicine of His Love penetrating us so we can then spill it out upon others too. The base of operation for any good church is the Lordship of Christ, the platform is His glory, and the Fruit of the Spirit He gives us helps make this happen. Conversely, the sinful fruits will cause the opposite (Matt. 22:39; Luke 10:25-28; Rom. 13:8-10).

God has given us the empowerment to live out our Christian lives for Him victoriously and with excellence! He feeds us the spiritual food, pays our spiritual debt, and gives us knowledge and the assets to be godly and good. If we truly trust in Christ¾not just as Savior but also as LORD¾we are given the power and ability to live a life of fullness with distinction of character and supernatural spiritual maturity so He is glorified by our lives and living testimony. He gives us the resources. They are here for us, and are at our disposal. We are not alone or cut off from what we need! But, there is a catch. We have to go for it; we have to appropriate His gifts and opportunities into our lives, as in find and engage them. We take firm hold of our faith (make our election sure) when we trust and then obey what He has for us. If we do not, we live a life of waste and even sin, missing out what is soooo good and precious for us. Why would anyone forsake His love and gifts (Deut. 31:6; Phil. 2:13; 3:13-14; 4:13; Gal. 3:14; 4:6; 5:5)?

What do the Rotten Fruits do?

This all starts with what the Bible calls our sinful nature, which refers to our heredity of sin-the universal, wicked sin-character of humanity, otherwise known as original sin. We placed ourselves under sin, and anyone who has ever lived was, and is under this curse. Sin deceives, the law reveals truth, and Christ brings us hope. Sin is the great deceiver (Gen 3:13; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:4). This is the root cause of relationship and church breakdown. The list in this passage was possibly of the specific sins this church was having trouble with. The second set was possibly less of a problem, less obvious, or seen in their daily lives but not in church: anger, rage, malice, blasphemy/slander, filthy language, and lies. These bad characters create the dishonest treachery that embodies our conduct and conversations so we take enjoyment from the cruel and nasty actions they do to others. They seek to destroy what is good and what would last, from buildings, to people, even God Himself if they were able (Rom. 3:13).

God is telling us sin should be obvious to us; we should already know how destructive it is because others have done it against us. This is the callous disregard for Christ and His outpouring of love to us, so we desire to hurt others without any reason other than the pleasure of doing evil to others and causing their sufferings in the worst sense. People tend to like extremes, and to live as they please, but they cannot ignore the law. The law brings out the worst in us, while the love of Christ brings out the best (Lev. 18:5; Deut. 30:15-19). This creates the sinful desires that lure us with passion to what is deceitful and evil. The decay of our understanding of our separation from God the Father, and even, as a Christian, our standing in Christ and virtue will cause the decay of our culture and ourselves. This means we are controlled by our desires of sin and rebellion, and have careless disregard of truth-or of consequences! It is our natural, sinful nature to desire what is wrong and to destroy (Gen. 9:6; Rom. 5:12-21; 7:1-6; James 3:9; 2 Pet. 2:14; 3:3).

Questions to ponder:

1. Why would a Christian who is saved by grace desire what is contrary to the Holy Spirit and God's Word?

2. How are the Fruits of the Spirit and the desires of the flesh in conflict with each other?

3. What does it mean to you to gratify the desires of your sinful nature? How have you done this? What were the results? What can you do to stop it?

4. What are you going to do to receive and apply what God has given you?

© 2000, 2009 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Discipleship Tools,

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