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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 5:17

  Our flesh is opposite of God's Spirit, so much so that they are at war with each other, even within us. If the two are at war and are opposites then we know that there is no harmony between them. Because they share no common grounds it is impossible to serve both. You cannot give ground to both sides and make everyone happy. You either yield to the Spirit which is crucifying the flesh (Gal. 5:24), or you give into the flesh and grieve the Holy Spirit that dwells within you (Eph. 4:30). Do not be confused, your salvation does not depend on what you do (or don't do). Your salvation depends completely on what Christ has done which is why we can rest. However, your choosing to sin can effect your daily walk with God. A friend of mine once compared the Spirit and the flesh like two dogs wrestling with each other. The question was asked, which one wins? He answered, which ever one you feed. Paul challenges us this way,

  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.  - Galatians 5:25

  Paul here separates being made alive by God's Spirit, and choosing to walk in God's Spirit. He's urging us to walk in the same Spirit that makes us alive together with Christ (Col. 2:13). So by this, we have the understanding that a person can be saved, but that he should also choose to actively walk in the Spirit. Why? That's what we are going to go into.

  First let's talk a little bit about feeding the flesh. Like the analogy above about dogs fighting, if you're feeding sin, then you are not walking in the Spirit. If you are walking in the Spirit then you are not carrying out the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). If you are living in sin than you are not walking in the Spirit, but are yielding to the lustful desires of the flesh. Since we know that doubt lies in our humanness as discussed in previous chapters, than we know that doubt lies in our flesh. So now understand that when you carry out the lustful desires of the flesh you are feeding the same part of you, that is your flesh, that your doubts are rooted in. Not only that but you are missing out on the fruits, and benefits that God's Spirit joyfully wants to bestow on you. Some such as these:

  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. - Galatians 5:16

  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, - Romans 8:16

  There are many more benefits of walking in the Spirit, some probably which aren't even recorded, but even many like these that are. Some of you may have read these verses and find yourself longing for these benefits. To that I would ask what are you feeding? When I ask this, and as we've covered in prior chapters, doubt is not sin. I am referring to sins such as listed in Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 6:18, and 2 Corinthians 12:21. Living in sins such as these is giving way to the cesspool where doubts originate from. Not only that, but not walking in the Spirit is robbing you of the fruit such as those listed above, and other benefits like the assurance of salvation mentioned in Romans 8:16. By sinning we are quenching the Holy Spirit.

  Do not quench the Spirit; - 1 Thess. 5:19

  Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. - Eph. 4:30

  Notice the above verse includes both the fact that you can grieve and be sealed by the same Holy Spirit at the same time. How does one grieve the Holy Spirit? In Matt. 28:20 Jesus said He would be with us always, John 14:16 tells us that the Father will send us a Helper, that He may be with us forever. 1 Corinthians 6:17 says the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. What does this mean? God is with you (Isa. 8:10). I wont portray knowing the mind of God except by what He chooses to share with us, but if the Holy Spirit of God is with us ALWAYS, that means He's even with us when we choose to walk down the path of sin. Does that grieve Him? I would think so. (I'm nodding big right now). This reminds me of my childhood dog named Ginger.

  Ginger was the most loving, most cheerful, obedient and loyal dog you can imagine as much of my family will attest to. She even gave hugs. I could go on and on, but one thing I haven't forgotten his her distaste for water in her later years. I took her to the beach one day which required dogs to be leashed. On this hot day I decided to wade out into the water and I brought Ginger with me. Now the entire day she had been pulling at the leash, smelling, looking, and so eager to meet people. This was not the case when we went into the water. Now I've seen her swim when she was younger, so I figured her disliking the water was because she had been away from it so long. Regardless of her reason however, it was clear now she didn't like the water. She was still pulling at the leash, but this time it was backwards, with her rear end farther away than her head, her feet dug into the sand, pulling backwards. And her love for people, for smells, her focus on anything else was out the window. Long story less long, I kept pulling thinking that once she got in it she'd enjoy it. This was not the case. The more I pulled the more she resisted. She was only 50lbs, so I won, and she ended up belly deep in water, shaking, terrified, her tail tucked as far as it could be without touching the water, and she was letting out a consistent yelping type whine that couldn't be comforted by anything short of leaving the water. So we did.

  In this little episode I was able to turn a loving, bouncing, full of spunk and joy dog, into a quivering, crying, shaking, grieved puppy. Ginger didn't have a choice, she was attached to me by a leash. If I was going and she was tethered to me, she was going. Her demeanor went from one full of excitement, to one grieved. Don't get me wrong, she still loved me, even belly deep in that which she hated. The same is of God. His love for you is unwavering. But being a loving God, He hates sin, and what it does to His children. For we reap what we sow.

  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. - Galatians 6:7-8

  We are forgiven our sins by the blood of Christ, and the penalty due us was put on the back of Jesus Christ on the cross. That does not mean our sins don't still have an effect, if I say hurtful things, does that not still hurt? If we obey sin, we reap from it corruption (John 8:34, Rom. 6:16). So understand by living in sin, you are sowing seeds to the very grounds your doubts are rooted in, your flesh. Do you really want that to continue to produce crops?

  Another result from walking in disobedience occurs in your mind. On one hand you claim to be a believer, and on the other hand your living a life of sin. To those who are weak conscienced (1 Cor. 8:12) this can surface as doubts. And still for some it's easier to doubt God, than it is to face the consequences of sin and deal with it squarely. Left undelt with, it's not uncommon for the guilt a Christian feels to translate into doubts. For some it's less painful to doubt than to deal with guilt. However, doubt and guilt frequently go hand in hand.

  Resolving this type of doubt is relatively easy to explain, but can be harder to carry out. Bring it before God, and repent!

  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. - 1 John 1:9

  Notice how much in that verse that we do. We bring it to Him, and he does the rest! We confess, and it is He who is faithful and righteous to forgive us, and it is He who cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness. It is NEVER to late to start doing what is right, God's forgiveness and power to restore are available the moment you turn to Him. Doubt in this case could be your comrad in bringing to light your sins so that your deeds could be wrought with God (John 3:20-21).

  "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; - Acts 3:19

  If you find yourself in a struggle with an embedded sin, get help! Utmost of course go to God, but we are also instructed to go to our brothers for help. As it is written:

  Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. - James 5:16

  There are many brothers and sisters in Christ out there that are willing to help. Consult a Christian friend you know to help hold you accountable, seek resources at your local church. Consult a pastor or Christian counselor for guidance.

  Some habitual sins can both cause, and stem from emotional damage. We will go into that in pages to come.



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