"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would."
This is one of our biggest challenges. The juxtaposition in our own beings of spirit and flesh, and the quest for dominance of one over the other. After these verses it lists some of the works of the flesh, including hatred, variance, drunkenness, revellings, and other things that we associate more commonly with sin. Then it lists some of the fruits of the spirit, including joy, peace, and gentleness. And it's hard... really hard. If we want the spirit to win, which we presumably do in order to follow God, then we can't always do the things that we want to do. Part of us wants the other... the wrath, the change, the enjoyment of the moment without thinking about consequences. But when we make those sorts of choices we leave behind other things that are essential to us... peace, love, gentleness. Things that are essential to our wholeness and well-being.
Our flesh, of course, is also essential to us and one of the main reasons that we came to earth. But flesh has to be secondary to spirit. We have to find righteous ways to fulfil our desires where possible, and as the verse says, sometimes we just "cannot do the things" that we want to do. It makes sense. As children, we had to learn that we couldn't light the dog on fire, or tear up all the books, or play all day instead of going to school. And as adults, even though we get to make a lot more choices for ourselves, we still need to learn and practice some of those basics... if we didn't have any self-discipline we wouldn't be able to hold down a job, go out in public, or have any successful relationships.
To be able to grow into our fullest potential, God knows that Spirit has to win the internal war. If we walk in the spirit, then we won't be fulfilling the lust of the flesh... flesh will stay in its proper place, bringing us joy but not being out of control, and we'll be able to grow beyond the internal war into unified wholeness, and have successful relationships with ourselves, each other, and with God.
Today, let's pray, and walk in the spirit.