We all want it. We all yearn to have it and to know it. It is something we think about possibly every day. It is also under attack from the enemy, but that is not typically how we think of it. The “it” I am referring to is love. Love is what we all want and are searching for. Sometimes we do not know where to look and sometimes genuine love is under attack, and we are none the wiser. The battle for genuine love is found in the fight between the flesh and the Holy Spirit.
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
Lust is defined as the covetous desires that one sets their heart on. Scripture tells us that lust is the beginning of death, or separation from God. It also tells us that temptation is built from our own lusts (James 1:14-15). The enemy uses the very desires and yearnings of our flesh to tempt us away from our relationship with our life source, Jesus. Our very being is riddled with the evil of lust and fleshly desire (I John 2:16). In our flesh, we lust after worldly pleasures (Matthew 5:28) which places us in bondage of the flesh and at risk for the enemy’s devices to devastate our life. When we walk in the flesh and after our lust, we find envy, strife, and divisions present in our life
(I Corinthians 3:1-3). Lust is selfish, it pursues selfish wants and demolishes true intimacy in our relationships. Following lust will leave us hopeless and defeated and our relationships.
There is a way to defeat our own vile flesh by tapping into another power source, the true source of power, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells inside each of us and provides the means to throw off this attack (I Corinthians 3:16). When we follow the Spirit instead of the flesh, we find power, love, and sound discernment (II Timothy 1:7). To fight the attack of lust, we need to flee from them (II Timothy 2:22) and fill ourselves instead with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). In these verses, we are commanded to put the flesh to death, run from it, and instead, be full of the spirit through the intentional practice of righteousness, faith, love, and peace.
The reason to fight against the flesh is to experience authentic love. The kind of love that is true, real, genuine, and intimate. The kind that God extends to us (I John 4) and the kind he sets as the standard for us to extend to others (John 13:34). The Greek word used in these passages is “agape”. This is the word found throughout scripture for the love of God meaning affection, good will and benevolence toward others. This is a great love and is demonstrated by actions. These actions of true love are described in I Corinthians 13 as patient, hopeful, kind, humble, and pure. Real love is not just one of these attributes, but all these combined. That is the fruit shown in our lives when we follow the command to love God and love others with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:37-40). When all our thought goes into motivation to love others this way, the action that follows will be empowered with God’s own love and strength.
Since we have the Spirit dwelling in us, we have access to God’s great love that is expressed as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Think about the term fruit” of the Spirit for a moment. Fruit gives imagery of pleasant and healthy food that we need to survive. Consider how we obtain the fruit. The fruit is grown through the labors of a tree, vine, or bush. The fruit does not exist without work from the source. Likewise, we do not experience the fruits of the Spirit without the labors. When we fight against the lust of the flesh by walking in the Spirit, we are performing the labors needed to grow the fruits, like love. Romans 12:9-21 gives application to what laboring to grow the fruits of the Spirit is and how we can walk in genuine love.
Walking in the spirit and demonstrating genuine love toward others brings abundant life and peace to us and the ones around us