Jesus shares in the book of John that he “came that [we] may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10 ESV). What a gift we have in Jesus! He is the good shepherd who faithfully protects and loves His sheep. Yet so many Christians struggle to step into this abundant life that Jesus provides. Why is that?
When we become followers of Christ, we know from Scripture that our spirit comes alive and we are eternally saved. Before that moment, we were disconnected from God. But once we’ve received the gift of salvation, God begins to work in us. This doesn’t mean our lives are going to suddenly be perfect, though. We’re still going to make mistakes, fall short, and deal with sin.
Even while we have God’s Spirit working in us, we have a sinful nature that’s working against us. God made our flesh to be a servant, but it makes a terrible master. When our flesh is in control, it steers us away from an abundant life in line with God’s Spirit. As Christians, we know it can be an agonizing struggle to let the Spirit of God lead. Yet this is the battle we must face.
Paul wrote to the Christians in Galatia, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:16-18).
If you’re wondering if your flesh or the Spirit of God is leading your life right now, take a look at your life: What are you feeding? What we feed grows. The Spirit is going to struggle to lead if we feed our flesh all week long and only feed our spirit for an hour at church on Sunday mornings. We have to dedicate our lives to fueling the Spirit through worship, prayer, and reading the Word of God.
This is a lifelong process—and we have to continually renew our minds to remain in tune with God’s Spirit. An abundant life is also a responsible life, and it’s time that Christians take responsibility for how they think and what choices they make.
We can be confident, thankfully, that we are not alone in our struggle against our flesh. Jesus himself warred against His flesh. As we see in the book of Matthew, “Then [Jesus] said to [his disciples], ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.’ And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will’” (Matthew 26:38-39).
Jesus was “sorrowful, even to death.” Even as His flesh begged for a way out, Jesus concluded that it wasn’t His mind, His emotions, His choices, or His body that should be in control, but all of those things belonged under the control of the Spirit of God. Jesus’ commitment to following the Spirit made a way for each and every one of us to experience an abundant life.
Whenever you find that your flesh is fighting against the will of God in your life, remember that God hears your cries for help and will come to strengthen you. Go to Him, be strengthened, and seek out encouragement from your brothers and sisters in Christ around you.
You will have times when you feel like God has dropped you and He’s nowhere to be found. But if you continue to let the Spirit of God lead you, you can rest assured that you will always be led to a place of resurrection. He can redeem any rocky marriage, rebellious child or abandoned dream if you’ll fight the urge of your flesh that is pulling you away—and instead, follow the lead of the Spirit into God’s loving embrace.
The Spirit of God will pull us toward life—and life more abundant.
Let’s keep fighting to follow him.
Pastor Marcus Mecum is founder and senior pastor of 7 Hills Church in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. He has led 7 Hills in following Christ and loving their community for over 15 years. For this reason, the church was named “Community Partner of the Year” by the Cincinnati Police Department in 2020. The pastor’s prayer is to see the body of Christ live out its call to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Hear from Pastor Marcus Mecum every day in your inbox with Daily Bread with PM, a short devotional with resources to help you grow in faith.