Devotional: ‘The Cravings of the Flesh vs the Cravings of the Spirit’ 

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As I begin another lesson on the Fruit of the Spirit, something significant stands out to me from Galatians 5 and it has to do with the subject of ‘cravings.’

“So, I say, let the 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.” (Galatians 5:16-17)

Much of what we do in life is dictated by our inward desires and cravings. We crave a particular kind of food and so we eat it in order to satisfy our desires. We crave to have something and so we work to get it. The same is true for us spiritually. How we think and act as a believer is often a direct response to some inner craving in our life.

According to Paul, there are two sources of cravings in the life of a believer. There are the cravings that are produced by our sinful nature, and the cravings that are produced by the Holy Spirit. Some believe that when we become a child of God, our old nature is no longer active; however, scripture seems to teach otherwise. Anyone who has ever tried to live for the Lord knows that there is still something inside of them that has an appetite for sin. Often Christians ask, “Why can’t I get rid of these thoughts? Why do they keep coming into my mind? Why is it that it seems that I almost at times ‘desire’ them to have them? Part of me wants to say ‘go away’ and another part of me says ‘no, stay!’ Why do I have this constant struggle?” The reason we continue to struggle with sin is because something inside of us tells us keeps telling us that sin will somehow make us happy. James puts it this way – “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15) Sinful actions are the results of sinful thoughts, and sinful thoughts are the result of sinful desires.

Thankfully Paul also teaches us that just as there can be cravings produced by the Holy Spirit. “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. . . the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires . . .”  (Galatians 5:16-17) Just as many of us have experienced the cravings of our sinful nature, so have many of us experienced the cravings of the Spirit. For example, often during a time of great prayer or praise, we find ourselves experiencing not only a desire to glorify God, but also a desire to love our fellow believers. Why is this?  It is because at that moment, when the Spirit is in full control of our lives, He produces desires within us that are according to His perfect will.  Or, as Paul puts it, we bear the ‘Fruit of the Spirit.’

No doubt today we will at moments experience the cravings of the flesh. Yet we can also experience the cravings of the Spirit. One good way to intensify the cravings of the Spirit is to read scripture. Another good way is to listen to worshipful music. I pray that each of us will be fruitful today!

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