Daily Encouragement: Day 350

Adapted from Handbook to Spiritual Growth


“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” (Galatians 5:16–17)

The word “flesh” is used in more than one way in Scripture. Sometimes it refers to the physical body; in other places, it refers to what Paul calls “the law of sin which is in my members.”

In Victor Hugo’s story Ninety-Three, the crewmembers of a ship tossed in a violent storm are more terrified by a crashing sound below than by the storm itself. They know that it is the sound of a cannon that has torn loose, and that it is crashing into the sides of the ship with each brutal wave. Two of the men risk their lives to go below and fasten the cannon before it breaks through and sends the ship to the bottom of the sea.

We are like that ship: our souls are more imperiled by the inward power of sin than by the outer storms of the world and the devil. Because of the biblical stress on personal accountability, this indwelling “law of sin” is the primary locus of the spiritual warfare.

The warfare with the flesh will continue throughout the time of our stay on earth. The flesh can never be reformed or improved; it can only be put to death. The flesh is overcome not by resolutions or self-effort, but by walking in submission to the rule of the Holy Spirit.

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