So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
One of my new year resolutions this year was to try and limit the amount of sugar that I consume. There’s been a great deal in the press in recent months about the impact that sugar has on heath, and in particular, on the obesity epidemic that is sweeping the western world. Fat, we’ve been told by some scientists, is not the enemy. In fact it is sugar. So I began the year by cutting fruit juices out of my diet and replacing them with fruit, and trying to minimise the amount of sweets that I eat. It has to be said that I have had limited success. Particularly after a long day at work I find myself craving sugar, and I’m ashamed to admit that on too many occasions I give in to those cravings. If I am to succeed, I am aware that I need to try to build new, healthier habits.
Paul writes of the importance of building healthy habits in the verses from his letter to the Galatians above. He has been telling his readers that they need to avoid “indulging the flesh,” that is, following the desires and temptations that lead them to sin. Instead, Paul has told his readers that they should love one another and serve each other. In the verses above he makes it clear that the desires that lead us to sin are in direct conflict with a Godly life. If we give into sinful desires, we will find it very difficult to lead a Godly life. In contrast, if we “walk by the Spirit,” and follow God’s ways, we will find it very difficult to sin. For Paul the answer is simple, therefore. We need to “walk by the Spirit,” since then we will not find ourselves drawn to sin. We are not, therefore, to do whatever we want, but aspire instead to what God wants us to do.
This prompts the question: how do we walk by the Spirit? I think that part of this is embedding positive habits into our lives so that we allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit. If we prayerfully consider what God’s word says to us in the Bible, if we strive to love God, and if we aim to love our neighbour, then we will be walking by the Spirit. Doing so allows the Spirit room in our lives to guide us, and to lead us, in accordance with God’s plan for our lives. And what could possibly be more exciting than that!