Desire to Sin Decreases When You Walk in the Spirit

As you daily walk in the Holy Spirit, God will fill you with his Spirit in such a way that your desires to sin lessen. Galatians 5:16—set in a chapter that parallels Romans 8 in many ways—says it so well: “Walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.” The one who walks in the Spirit will not give in to the desires of the flesh. Walking in the Spirit and carrying out the desires of the flesh are mutually exclusive ideas; you cannot do one at the same time as you engage in the other.

A few years ago Trudi and I went to San Diego for a couple days to celebrate a special birthday. The day we arrived, we dropped off our bags at a hotel and went out to look in some shops. As we walked, we came across one of those ice cream shops…you know, the kind that sells waffle cones filled above the brim with creamy, chunky, yummy ice cream. I turned to Trudi and said, “We’re on vacation, honey, we can have one of these if we really want.” We both agreed that we really did want one—each!—but would enjoy it even more the following day since we were heading to dinner soon.

The next day we walked by another one of those amazing ice cream shops selling the same kind of creamy, chunky, yummy ice cream in a waffle cone. I turned to Trudi to pose a question I already knew the answer to: “Now do you want an ice cream?” Her response: “Oh no! That sounds awful. I couldn’t possibly eat one of those right now!”

Why not?! What could possibly have changed? How could it be that she (and I!) craved one of those waffle cone ice creams the previous day but we didn’t want it now? The answer is simple; we were full. Actually, we were stuffed. The hotel at which we were staying provided a brunch along with a night’s stay—a beautiful, extravagant brunch. We had eaten crepes and omelets and waffles and fruit and muffins…far too much of it all. An hour later when we walked by that incredible ice cream shop we simply weren’t interested anymore. We weren’t enticed by the ice cream because we were full of something else.

As you walk in the Spirit, depending upon the Spirit and being filled with the Spirit, your desire to sin will minimize. There is more to say about overcoming sin, but at its core it isn’t too much more complicated than that. Walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. Be so full of the Spirit that your craving to sin lessens. You won’t have the same desire to sin because your walk is along a different path, the way of the Spirit. You’ll be moving in a different direction.

Excerpted from Kenneth Berding, Walking in the Spirit (Crossway, 2011).

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