No doubt, in the United States we live in a polarized and divisive political climate. But there is something more divisive than American politics. What is it? The flesh and the Spirit.
Paul writes these shocking words in Galatians 5:17: “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.” Notice closely: the flesh and Spirit are “in opposition to one other.” Believe it or not, the hostility between the flesh and the Spirit is more than hostility between the Republicans and Democrats. Why can I make this outrageous claim? Because of the nature of the flesh and the Spirit and the nature of the opposition.
The flesh is simply the natural disposition of fallen humanity. The flesh is death and enmity with God (Romans 8:6-7). The Spirit, on the other hand, is a renewed disposition of regenerated humanity. The Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:6).
These two enemies, the flesh and Spirit, battle not on the campaign trail, the debate stage, or the Supreme Court Senate hearings. They battle in your heart – the “desires” as Paul calls them. The flesh and Spirit’s battle runs deeper than battleground States, into the very desires, passions, and longings of the heart.
Thus, because the flesh and the Spirit are in opposition to each other, battling in the core of our beings, this is why I can say the flesh and Spirit are more divisive than American politics.
Unlike American politics, however, the polarized opposition of the flesh and Spirit is curable. The flesh does not have to win! How can the Spirit win? “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). As the late J. I. Packer says: “Walk in step with the Spirit.” That is, submit to and follow the Spirit’s leading in your life.
As believers, though we may be divided over politics, we have a much greater division than the Republican and Democratic parties – the opposition of the flesh and the Spirit. Let us, therefore, not be distracted from battling the flesh, by always walking in the Spirit.
For more on how to battle the flesh by walking in the Spirit, see the message here.