Summary: Contrasting walking in the Spirit with walking according to the flesh.
Walking in the Spirit
A man was sitting at a stop light one morning. The lady in front of him was going through papers on the seat of her car, and when the light changed, she ignored the fact that it had turned green. She sat there until the light turned red again. So, the man behind her began screaming epithets and beating on his steering wheel. His expressions of disgust were interrupted by a policeman, gun drawn, tapping on his window. Against his protests of, “You can’t arrest me for hollering in my car,” the officer ordered him into the back seat of his police car. After about two hours in a holding cell, the arresting officer advised him he was free to go. He said, “I knew you couldn’t arrest me for what I was yelling in my own car. You haven’t heard the last of this.” The officer replied, “I didn’t arrest you for shouting in your car. I was directly behind you at the light. I saw you screaming and beating your steering wheel, and I said to myself, “What a jerk. But there is nothing I can do to him for throwing a fit in his own car.” Then I noticed the cross hanging from your rearview mirror, the bright yellow “Choose Life” license plate cover, and the “Jesus Is Coming Soon” bumper sticker, and I thought you must have stolen the car.” – (Copied)
Nothing seems to turn people away from Christianity more than that of inconsistency - observing people who say one thing yet do another. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines inconsistency as - "not persistent, lacking firmness of constitution or character, and lacking harmony of conduct and practice with profession." Sadly, this is all too prevalent in Christian circles today, hindering our witness.
When we come to Christ and give our hearts and lives to Him, He takes up residency within us by His Holy Spirit—and we will never be the same. Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells us in Romans 6:6 and in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that as born-again believers, having received the Lord Jesus Christ and the accompanying indwelling Holy Spirit, each of us is a new creation. The old self enslaved to sin has been crucified. As such, we ought no longer to be comfortable with our old sinful ways, and we should desire to turn from them seeking God’s will for our lives. The Bible says in 1 Peter 1:15, “Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do”.
When we come to the fifth chapter of Galatians, Paul instructs us about the indwelling Holy Spirit’s work in the daily life of the believer. We need to recognize that while the Holy Spirit has decisively defeated the flesh through our union with Christ in His death, not every believer is living a life of victory. As long as we are still in this body, we remain imperfect and there remains in every believer a remnant or vestige of sin which the Bible calls the flesh. This remnant of sin causes a continual and fierce struggle in which the flesh wars against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. Galatians 5:17 tells us, “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” John MacArthur says, “The Spirit-led life is a life of conflict, because it is in constant combat with the old ways of the flesh that continue to tempt and seduce the believer.” Grant Richison has said, “A spiritual titanic tug of war takes place in every believer. The non-Christian does not have that same kind of struggle for he is nothing but “flesh.” He has no other reference point. Once a person comes to know Christ, he enters a significant spiritual struggle.”
That struggle actually involves three enemies that war against the Christian: the world, the flesh and the devil.
Many believe that the devil is our greatest enemy, and don’t think for a second that he is not a formidable foe. The Word of God says that he is the “prince of the power of the air” and walks about as a roaring lion seeking to destroy believers. However, though Satan is a formidable enemy, he is not our greatest enemy. The cartoon character Pogo had it right when he said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Our greatest enemy dwells within us: it is our flesh.
What is meant by Paul when he speaks of the flesh? "When Paul speaks of the flesh, he is referring to all that man is and is capable of as a sinful human being apart from the unmerited intervention of God's Spirit in his life. Bob DeWaay, the senior pastor of Twin City Fellowship in Minneapolis, says that the flesh is “what one is independent of God having only the motivations of his human nature outside of God's grace.” Daily we are faced with the choice of either walking according to the flesh, corrupted by sin, or walking in the Spirit. There is a sharp contrast between "walking in the Spirit" and "walking according to the flesh."