This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. – Gal. 5:16.
I read these words in my daily Bible time recently. I have been praying and begging God for answers. Why have I felt so far away from Him? I meet with Him each day, barring sickness. Why had I been casually sliding into sin in my heart? Hadn’t I been faithful to church? Hadn’t I been praying? The answer to those questions was a definite yes. But, sadly, here I was. My mouth constantly in a frown or pout, my brows knitted together in worry, my heart heavy and my faith microscopic.
I read this verse and questioned aloud: “Lord, how do I know how to walk in the Spirit? There’s no road called “Spirit” that I can steer myself toward. It’s mysterious.” I kept reading, which, I now see was my answer from my Father.
Verses 17 -23 of that same chapter:
The Lord not only told me how to know if I was walking in the Spirit, but He also gave me a handy-dandy checklist! (He knows me so well!) We’ve all heard about the fruit of the Spirit, but, did you know there is such a thing as fruit of the flesh?
If I am walking in the flesh, there will be evidence of that behavior; there will be fruit.(Now, mind you, you may not see that fruit. It may be tucked away in my heart. But some see – my husband and children and my dear sister and mother will see it. And most of all, God will see.)
Feeding the flesh produces adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness [being lustful, loose or lewd. Promoting lustful desires in others]. Walking after the flesh can also produce idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations [ambition to excel or rival another], wrath, strife, sedition [rebellion against established order], heresy, envy, murder, drunkenness, and reveling [Engaging in lively and noisy festivities, esp. those that involve drinking and dancing.]. Now, I’m not saying that if you start feeding the flesh you’ll go right out and commit adultery or get drunk. I’m saying that these actions are the fruit of the flesh. I know, because I saw some of these very things in my very own heart!
I was envious of others…and envy is a dangerous thing! Did you know envy is worse than wrath or anger? Anger is terrible! Envy is worse than that? Yes! Just look at Proverbs 27:4 Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy? A person can react to anger or wrath – we can defend ourselves against those. But, how do you defend yourself against an envious person? A person who loathes you because of who you are, what you do, or what you own? That person will not be seeking to do you good, but you won’t know it, because envy is in the heart. Yes siree, give me angry over envious any day! I can say, as a person who was envious, that jealousy will eat away at the one who bears it. You can hurt the one of whom you’re jealous with lies or deceit, but all the while, the envy is eating away at you.
The fruit of the Spirit is listed in Gal. 5: 22 -23. It’s a famous passage! You probably have them memorized: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. So, if you’re thinking “I’m okay, I have no fruit of the flesh in my heart.” Meditate on this: If one part of the fruit of the Spirit is longsuffering (patience), then what category does impatience fall under? Yes, it got me right between the eyes – impatience would be fruit of the flesh! Ouch! I caught myself giving up on God a few times lately – the opposite of faith…yep, more fleshly fruit. Recently, I ate a dessert to sooth my sorrow…that was lack of self-control, or temperance. More fruit of the flesh. On and on I went until I had cancelled out each piece of spiritual fruit and replaced it with rotting fleshly fruit.
On one hand, this realization was heavy for me, but, on the other, it was a relief! I knew what I’d been doing wrong and could repent and start over…again. I’m glad I can check my list to see where I’m off and work to fix it. Of course, nothing of eternal value can be obtained by fleshly strength, but I know to Whom I should go for help. I can ask Him what I’m doing wrong and He will answer.