"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control." Galatians 5:22-23
I just emerged from a two day fast. Going without food is physically draining, almost to the point of hilarity. There were times where my mind felt so foggy. During a conversation I had with a woman I just met, she said her child's name, said his nickname, I asked her again what his name was, five minutes later realized who she was talking about, and on the drive home, I realized the name and nickname were the same person. Holy cow.
I think about that physical draining and I know that time away from God produces the same mental, emotional weakness. I unequivocally, absolutely, 100% need need need time with the Savior. I never grasped the urgency, the necessity, the absolute criticalness of that dependency. I transitioned from doing it because I felt obligated and 'didn't do enough' to 'I love it because I enjoy learning and being in God's presence'. But these last few days, I have understood that I am oh so weak when I am not fueled by Christ. I need it because I need God. And that is pleasing to Him.
Psalm 63 says, "O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food." There are no empty comparisons in God being our Daily Bread. Every. Single. Day He is our Sustainer. We don't fill up on food at the beginning of the week and hope it lasts. The same is true of our God and Savior.
I've been reading through Galatians 5 this week. Learning about the desires of the flesh vs. walking by the Spirit. When I choose the Spirit, I live by love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self Control. Doesn't that sound so refreshing? The flesh is in direct contrast with that beauty and when we stiff arm our sinfulness and make a better choice, we accept and live by what the Spirit gives. The Spirit not only fights against sin in defense, but in attack through the creation of Godly character. That blows my mind in gratefulness.
The Apostle Paul reiterates again and again that the only way to conquer flesh is to yield to the Spirit. Relinquish, surrender, cede. Not by doing more, not by reading a theology book, BUT BY THE SPIRIT. Every piece of me apart from the transforming work of the Holy Spirit is sin. It can never be good on its own. But Christ has crucified the flesh and Christians have died with Christ to sin. The old order has passed away and our sinful selves that belonged to that order have crumbled away. I am saved from my flesh.
I'll be honest with you, there are hard days. I don't want to tie a nice ribbon around this blog post and call this battle won. It's an every day, constant, continual dependency. Being in receptive communion with the Spirit every. single. day. I still feel 'fleshy'. I do the very things I hate. To borrow from Paul, I desire to do what is right, but I don't have the ability to carry it out. I don't do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. I still struggle with sanctification not having a finish line. But I am refreshed to know there is Someone working in me to tear that flesh away. I'm not on my own in this process of refinement. I am humbled by the work of Christ.
Yielding to the Spirit, going against the flesh, starts with discipline.
Holy Spirit, lead me.