The Battle between the Flesh and the Spirit

Uncovering the war within, and equipping ourselves with the Sword of the Spirit.

Throughout the scriptures, we repeatedly see references to the “flesh” and to the “Spirit”. We hear terms like “walking by the Spirit”, and “abstaining from the passions of the flesh”, and the Bible makes it clear that there is a drastic distinction between the two. A war within, that not only reminds us of our flawed human nature, but of Holy Spirit living within us as believers in Christ. Upon accepting Jesus as the Lord of our lives, we are not suddenly thrust into a life free from the temptations of the flesh, but rather, are now equipped with the tools to war against that spirit with the Word of God, and Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us.

So, when it comes to living out your daily life, how do you understand the difference in a “flesh” versus a “spirit” desire? What does it mean to “Walk by the Spirit”? What does it mean to  “renew our minds”, and how does it actually look in action?

“So I say, let Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” Galatians 5:16-17

It’s important to note before we proceed, that regardless of our works, it is our faith that has saved us, and not upholding a standard of “deeds”. However, that same faith that saves us is the faith that compels us to live a life glorifying to our Father in heaven, serving Him and others, with the love that now lives inside of us. But what exactly are the “fleshly desires” that we are warring with? According to Paul in the book of Galatians, “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these” (verses 19-21) to name a few.  And as far as what Holy Spirit produces in our lives, he goes onto reference what you may know of as the fruits of the spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”.

Have you ever experienced any of these? Perhaps you know how it feels to have peace, but also how it feels to be jealous. Or, you know how it feels to be faithful, but also know how it feels to have outbursts of anger. If you have ever found yourself in these positions, then you have experienced the battles of the flesh, and. the spirit. However, its up to you to be able to discern the two, and up to you what you do when the battles arise.

Are you able to recognize when your desires are flesh-led? What about when they are led by the Spirit? Do you use the Word as your weapon, combating any desire or thought that is not in alignment with God’s best for you with what He has already promised you in His word? Are we really going to trust our ever-changing, fleeting emotions over an ever-present, and unchanging God? Ephesians 6:17 lets us know clearly that our weapons are “the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”. So if we have the ultimate sword; the sword of the Spirit….the LIVING Word of God on the inside of us, the battle with the flesh doesn’t seem so even-sided after all. The weapons are there. They are ready to defend you, protect you, help you pursue God’s absolute best for you, and guide you every step of the way. The truth is, at the end of the day, the victory is already yours to win.

The question is, are you willing to pick up your Sword?


Ephesians 6:17

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Romans 8:5

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

Ephesians 4:22-24

To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

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