Gal 5:17 The flesh WARS against the spirit. And the Spirit wars back against the flesh.
Gal 5:18 If you walk in the Spirit, then you won’t fulfill the desires of the flesh.
The Holy Spirit’s agenda is to grant us liberty on the inside (Gal 5:13). There is a violent clash of power, a full-out war going on inside of us between the Spirit and our Fleshly desires. There is a principle of evil that is operating inside of us (Rom 7:22) but another principle is working in our mind, emotions, body, soul, and spirit — the Holy Spirit. Through an ongoing encounter with Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, we are granted liberty and victory in this war (Rom 7:24) This war will not ever go away. We can have victory and dominion in this war. As Paul makes clear, we can only have this victory and dominion in as much as there is a present-tense fellow shipping and communion with the Spirit.
Think of this like an airplane. And as the airplane is flying the laws of aerodynamics are working. The engine is going. It is exerting a certain amount of energy because the engines are going…. And that energy is stronger than the law of gravity. If you turn that engine off, you will see the power of the law of gravity instantly. The law of gravity never ceases. Our victory over lust in this age is not about the law of gravity disappearing. It’s by introducing a greater law while the law of gravity is still present all the time. No matter what the track record of the plane, if you turn that engine off, the law of gravity will instantly have dominion. Likewise, if you do NOT have ongoing fellowship with the Holy Spirit, your fleshly desires will immediately have dominion over you may it be pride, selfishness, complaining, negativity, non-edifying retort, gossiping, addictions, envy, etc. He who is in you, the Spirit that is in you, is greater than he who is in the world (1Jn 4:4), but this only works if you have a vibrant relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Some people focus on crash-recovery. They focus on getting the plane back up after it has crashed. And they keep crashing over and over again. They focus on the fact that God is loving and merciful and His forgiveness. They see that the plane is going down and start looking into all the verses that will prove that God will still love them after the plane crashes. They spend most of their energy “managing the crash”. Or they steer clear of places that would cause them to be more likely to crash. Although this last one is a biblical principle, the most effective of all is to cultivate the Spiritual relationship in your inner man. Also, don’t put so much of your attention on denying the flesh. This will no good unless you are not interacting with or walking in the Spirit.
Paul uses three verbs to describe the dynamic of interacting with the Holy Spirit: Walk in the Spirit (16), Be Led by the Spirit (18) , Live by the Spirit (25). These are 3 facets of the diamond of our relationship with the Spirit. They are each distinct, but they overlap in the one relationship with the Spirit.
To walk in the Spirit means that we walk in the Spirit’s values (Gal 5:19-22). Basically, these are behavior choices. Saying “no” to the things that grieve the Holy Spirit (God) and “yes” to the things that the Holy Spirit values.
To be led by the Spirit is to follow the Spirit’s leadership being watchful to the Holy Spirit’s promptings in our life. This means that we have discernment to what the Spirit is leading us to do mainly in our spiritual life (i.e. in our thoughts, words, and deeds). Our natural life would be whether we should go right or left/here or there. It seems that the Spirit is more prevalent in telling me what NOT to do than in telling me what TO do. He checks me on what I say and do, how I posture myself. He presents warning on certain acts or words that would hurt my relationship with the Spirit. Ignoring the Spirit’s leadership little by little creates small weaknesses in our relationship with the Holy Spirit (our ability to interact in these 3 ways mentioned). The small decisions of your inner/spiritual life will have the greatest impact on your relationship with the Holy Spirit. You are equipped to obey the Spirit in those big ‘moments’ of temptation or big ‘decisions’ by cultivating the value of the Spirit’s leadership in the smaller moments and decisions throughout the day. How we spend our money, how we spend our time, etc should be submitted under the leadership of the Spirit.
If you have minimal fellowship with the Holy Spirit, then you will walk in lusts consistently (Rom 7). We must refuse the lie that the Spirit is not Lord, therefore His promptings are optional. That misconception is prevalent in the Church today; it is subtle, and it is devious as though the Spirit of God’s promptings are optional! The Holy Spirit is not just some helpful influence.The Spirit is God. God the Holy Spirit is fully God. He is God, and He is to be obeyed!
To live by the Spirit (Gal 5:25) is to be empowered by the Spirit’s life as we are fed by the Spirit’s food which is the word of God. As our physical body needs food, our spiritual body needs food to have life (and that food is the word of God). In our analogy, the plane must have fuel to avoid a collision. It matters how much time in our schedule we give to feed our spirit. You must have fuel in your spiritual engine. One who has an under-nourished spirit will walk in lust.
With these three elements, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh emotionally or physically as the norm of our life. Understand, there is a principle of evil that is warring against you. There should be an urgency to walk in the Spirit so that you can have victory over these lusts that potentially may costs you eternal rewards and earthly rewards in your spiritual life, walk, and relationship with God.