I've always had some understanding of what the Bible says when it explains living by the Spirit versus living by the flesh. Spirit, good. Flesh, bad. The flesh leads us to self-idolatry, leads us to selfishness, leads us to glorifying anything but God. Everyone is born into the flesh. Born sinners. Kinda scary, huh?
When Christ came and God called me to himself, he saved me from my flesh. He saved me to a life of living by the Spirit. But, then I always kind of thought this is where the flesh dies completely, when truly our flesh isn't dead and conquered until we come to glory in Heaven. Post salvation we are in a constant battle between our Spirit and our flesh. As sanctification (becoming more and more like Christ) progresses our flesh begins to wane, and the Spirit grows larger and larger within us. That's probably the coolest part to me. For some reason (I always say this, but for clarification - the reason is God, revealing himself and his truth to me), this idea just clicked to me in the last couple of weeks.
Paul confirms in Galatians 5 the reality of the battle between Spirit and the flesh.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8)
I can absolutely tell when my flesh takes over. I am hostile. I think the world, or the people in my life owe me something. I have little patience, and I think I'm better, more intelligent, than others. I hope now that I can recognize this, and that it will be easier for me to ask God to, in that moment, set my mind on what the Spirit desires.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 .
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8)
I am very thankful for sanctification, and for the Spirit that lives in me, sometimes it brings me to tears. Tears of joy, because God chose me. Tears of sadness, because I know he doesn't call everyone. Thank you God for continuing to form me into likeness. Thank you for grace during the process. You are better than life.