So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves... Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. — Galatians 5:16, 24
When a man gets married, he embarks on a new life. Later, when he retires, he starts another new life. Should he eventually lose his wife, he begins all over again. Life is all about changes, challenges, and choices.
The more drastic changes in life—such as marriage, retirement, or bereavement—call for far-reaching adjustments. But none is so far-reaching as the change that takes place when a man commits his life to Christ. Paul describes this as “new life in the Holy Spirit” and calls the believer to live accordingly (Galatians 5:16). The fundamental difference in such a new life is described as no longer “doing what your sinful nature craves,” but living now by the Holy Spirit (5:16). This involves following “the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives” (5:25). Two options are clearly presented—either following a “sinful nature [that] loves to do evil” (5:17), or living in such a way that “the Holy Spirit controls our lives” (5:22).
New believers are often surprised to discover, after the initial joy of committing their lives to Christ has worn down a little, that they struggle to live a new life. They expected that everything would be fresh, new, and wonderful and that they would somehow be transported into a new kind of stratospheric spirituality—free from pain, struggle, worry, or defeat. They need to learn that even though they are now in Christ, the “two forces”—the sinful nature and the Holy Spirit—“are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict” (5:17).
This may seem to be rather discouraging information, but it needs to be seen that the believer is not impotent in the midst of this struggle. He has the freedom and the power to choose whether he will be dominated by the sinful nature or be led by the Spirit of God. In fact, he is required to make this choice—or more accurately, a continual series of choices.
To choose to “follow the Holy Spirit’s leading” includes recognizing that in saying yes to Christ, the believer said no to the sins for which Christ died. He has “nailed the passions and desires of [the] sinful nature” to the cross, and he continues to say no to them (5:24). At the same time, he says yes to the gracious working of the indwelling Holy Spirit. As he does this, he finds he’s living a new life—a rich life, a full life, a life that honors God and blesses people.
For further study: Galatians 5:16-25
Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.