This verse from Galatians 5 got my attention. It’s a familiar passage, yet it struck a chord in my spirit today, for some reason.
Somewhat surprisingly, the word that jumps out at me is “by”:
We use the word “by” all the time, and it can have several different meanings. It’s primary meaning implies staying close to someone or something; in fact, according to our friends over at dictionary.com, the word’s first definition is “near or next to.”
So, if I understand this passage correctly, we are to keep in step with the Spirit; in so doing, we will then be out of step with the desires of our sin nature. However, if we are out of step with the Spirit, then we will by default prioritize our own desires and aspirations – something that the Bible usually refers to as pride.
Anyway, it seems to me that the verse is saying if we are walking by the Spirit, then we will not “carry out” the desires of the flesh. It doesn’t mean that we won’t still have them – after all, we are still human, and our intrinsic sin nature wars within us – but according to this verse, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to not carry out any thought, attitude, and/or action that is contrary to the will of God (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
I’d say that’s a pretty good reason to keep in step with Jesus each day. Shoot – even when we are trying to walk by the Spirit, life has a way with interfering with our good intentions, and we often find ourselves distracted and dismayed (or is that just me?). During times like these, I have to recognize that I have – in a nanosecond – fallen out of step with the Spirit, and have focused my attentions elsewhere.
I am thankful today that the Bible gives me this encouragement. I can – by the power of the Holy Spirit – refrain from carrying out the things that grieve Him (although frequently, I will choose not to do so. Such is the problem with sin – we continually mess up! However, the great thing about grace is that God forgives us every time!).
Dear Lord, my prayer today is a simple one. Please keep me close to You. As much as possible, I wish to remain in close proximity to You, rather than getting distracted by the cares and burdens of this world. Thanks also for letting me know that You have equipped me with all of the spiritual resources I need in order to resist the enemy’s fiery arrows; however, I will inevitably succumb (as You know, worry is one of my go-to sins), and I am indeed fortunate that Your forgiveness is so immediate and enthusiastic. Thanks for sticking “closer than a brother,” to paraphrase one of the Proverbs, I believe. You’re the Best Friend I’ll truly ever have! In Your name I pray, Amen.