ON THE LUST OF THE FLESH AND OF THE SPIRIT (With Active Table of Contents)

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Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting? Response: I do. The Lord commands us to receive the Holy Spirit see Jn and to "be zealous for the gifts of the Spirit" 1 Cor , our transl. This means that we must go to any extremes to learn about the Spirit and His gifts, fruits, promptings, and works.

We must intensely pray for all that the Spirit has to offer us and zealously use any gifts, fruit, blessings, and graces of the Spirit for the upbuilding of His Church. However, few Christians are devoted to the Holy Spirit and zealous for His gifts.

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This causes many Christians to doubt whether we must emphasize the Holy Spirit as part of the essence of life in Christ. They reason: "If the Holy Spirit is so important, why don't most people and even churches focus on the Spirit? We can be certain that we should be totally committed to life in the Spirit. We can do this by obeying the Church and her Bible. The Church is "the pillar and bulwark of Truth" 1 Tm , and the popes are the leaders of the Church, who teach infallibly in faith and morals.

Without a greater knowledge of and devotion to the Spirit, we have not properly applied Vatican II. For example, he has taught: "The charisms are received in gratitude both on the part of the one who receives them, and also on the part of the entire Church. They are in fact a singularly rich source of grace for the vitality of the apostolate and for the holiness of the whole Body of Christ" The Lay Members of Christ's Faithful People , Pope John Paul II has also taught: "It is in fact he the Spirit who raises up prophets in the Church, instructs teachers, guides tongues, works wonders and healings, accomplishes miracles, grants the discernment of spirits, assigns governance, inspires counsels, distributes and harmonizes every other charismatic gift.

In this way he completes and perfects the Lord's Church everywhere and in all things" quoting from Novatian in the encyclical, The Splendor of Truth , Because of these authoritative teachings of the Church through the popes, we know for sure that the Holy Spirit with His gifts, fruit, and graces is at the heart of the Church, and therefore is to be received fully and zealously. The Church proclaims clearly and emphatically: "Come, Holy Spirit! To receive the Holy Spirit, we don't have to be holy.

It's the other way around. We need the Holy Spirit to become holy. To receive the Holy Spirit, we don't have to be prayerful. Rather we need the Spirit to help us to pray Rm What do we need in order to receive the Holy Spirit? The attitude behind all these prerequisites is docility, teachableness to the Holy Spirit, Who is the Teacher Jn Docility is a form of humility.

It is humility in the context of receiving teaching. The Church teaches: "More intense prayer should prepare one to receive the strength and graces of the Holy Spirit with docility and readiness to act" Catechism of the Catholic Church , , emphasis added. Docility is a matter of being like Mary as she was guided by the interior activity of the Holy Spirit through her silence, attentiveness, and hope Toward the Third Millennium , Mary, unlike Zechariah, was so docile to the words of the archangel Gabriel that her reception of the Spirit was a conception.

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When Mary received the Holy Spirit, she expressed her humility and docility by calling herself the handmaid, the slave of the Lord, and accepting whatever would be done to her according to God's word Lk Cornelius, the first Gentile to receive the Holy Spirit, was so docile that he "dropped to his knees" before Peter and "bowed low" Acts With shocking humility, Jesus presented Himself for baptism Mt ff.

To receive the Holy Spirit, we need to be docile to teachings we don't want to hear. For example, many people in our culture have problems accepting the Spirit's gift of tongues. Will you be docile to the Church's teaching and the Biblical revelation concerning this gift? See our pamphlet, Speaking in Tongues. Possibly the Church's teaching against artificial birth control is hard for you to take. I know a person who received the Holy Spirit in a new and powerful way immediately after repenting of using artificial birth control.

Maybe Jesus' insistence that we forgive everyone immediately for even the grossest offenses is a challenge to your docility see Mt ff. What if the Holy Spirit wanted you to significantly downsize your life-style, would you be docile? Which teaching of the Church and the Bible tends to be a stumbling-block for you? Where are you confronted with the choice between docility or rebellion?

Imagine a dam holding back the Spirit's rivers of living water see Jn When we are docile, the dam breaks, and the Spirit flows.

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Go to Confession. Repent of rebellion. Be docile. Receive the Holy Spirit! The self-centered desires of the flesh are directly opposed to the Spirit. Therefore, to receive the Holy Spirit much more deeply we must be docile to the Lord's command that we "make no provision for the desires of the flesh" Rm We must make the decision to do more than control the flesh. We are to crucify it with its passions and desires Gal This means we must have the courage to reappraise our life-styles with a view to solidarity with the poor in the spirit of the Beatitudes Mission of the Redeemer , We may be led by the Spirit see Gal to tithe, give alms, simplify our lives, stop or severely curtail watching TV, get out of debt, move to another house or apartment, offer hospitality to the poor, etc.

At first, the necessity of choosing a new life-style may seem to be a great blow to many of us who have spent years working to develop our present life-styles. However, we are not only giving up pleasures and conveniences but also enslaving compulsions, distractions, and pressures. Therefore, it is both a privilege and a hardship to adopt a new, gospel life-style.

While a willingness to adopt a new life-style is necessary to let the Spirit be more active in our lives, this is only part of crucifying the flesh. Of the fifteen works of the flesh mentioned in Gal , eight of the fifteen are not related to self-indulgence and impurity but to a lack of love in personal relationships. I believe that the heart of most of these inter-personal conflicts is unforgiveness.

Consequently, in order to let the Spirit work freely in our lives, we must forgive everyone for everything done against us. This would take a miracle, for "to err is human, and to forgive is divine. True forgiveness is to make a decision to accept God's grace to let go of hurts due to sins committed against us and then to express this decision by acts of love and mercy. Forgiveness is being like the father of the prodigal son who embraced his son, gave him gifts, and honored him with a special celebration Lk ff.

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  8. Obviously, "to forgive is divine," and therefore impossible for human beings to do, but Jesus will give us the miracle of forgiveness. See our pamphlets, Unforgiveness is the Cause and 14 Questions on Forgiveness. In preparation for receiving the Holy Spirit anew, decide to accept God's grace to forgive. Then go to Confession. You will be forgiven as you have forgiven those who have sinned against you Mt You may have one of the best Confessions of your life and immediately receive the Holy Spirit in a deep way, or you will be well prepared to receive the Holy Spirit in power at the last seminar.

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    In a few minutes, we will pray for each other to renew our Baptisms and Confirmations and to receive the Holy Spirit in a much deeper way. If we thirst for the Lord's love see Jn and repent of anything incompatible with that love Acts , we will receive the Holy Spirit in a greater way. Some of us will have dramatic experiences, and powerfully and peacefully feel the Holy Spirit. Others will feel very little.

    It doesn't matter, for we know we have received the Holy Spirit because the Lord has promised the Spirit to those who ask Lk We must not think about how we are feeling but about the love of the Lord. By faith, not sight or feelings see 2 Cor , we should fix our eyes on Jesus and thank Him and the Father after we have received prayers for the Holy Spirit.

    After receiving the Spirit, we will probably notice a few changes in our desires. For example, we may have a slightly stronger desire to pray or a slightly weaker desire to watch TV. We may still want to watch TV more than we want to pray, but we should go with the small changes that we notice God giving us. These changes in our desires will be multiplied.

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    If we keep going with these God-given changes in our desires, the Holy Spirit will re-form us who have de-formed ourselves by following the wrong desires 1 Pt This re-formation is not the end but the beginning of the Spirit's work. It will lead to freedom , our participation in Christian community , and the outpouring of the Spirit in continuing Pentecosts.

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    The Spirit will lust against the flesh Gal and free us from the disguised slavery due to giving in to the cravings of the flesh see 2 Pt Through these small changes in our desires, the Spirit will not only free us from slavery but also free us for reconciliation, worship, evangelization, discipleship, service, and Christian community. The Spirit alters our desires so as to make us steadfastly attentive to the Church's teaching and the communal life Acts This is critical. Those who are experienced in giving Life in the Spirit Seminars have found that the fire of the Spirit is usually quenched 1 Thes if those receiving the Spirit in the seminars do not continue in a prayer group.

    However, fewer and fewer people are following up on the Life in the Spirit Seminars by participating in a prayer group. This is a serious problem.

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    The Holy Spirit is overcoming this problem by raising up hundreds of thousands of small Christian communities throughout the world. As the first Christians devoted themselves to the communal life after the first Christian Pentecost, so should we as we receive a new Pentecost. We at Presentation Ministries offer twelve seminars on entering into and building small Christian communities.

    It is a Divine inspiration. Galatians Christ's Spirit and Human Flesh. Note some translations and commentaries do not take Spirit as the Holy Spirit but I think that is an incorrect interpretation. For example God's Word Translation is "Live your life as your spiritual nature directs you". Surely they mean to imply that the spiritual nature is that which is empowered by the Spirit, for otherwise we would have no ability to walk counter to the strong desires of the flesh.

    Boice comments that "Life by the Spirit is neither legalism nor license - nor a middle way between them. It is a life of faith and love that is above all of these false ways. Walk by the Spirit - Obviously this is not a literal walk see more discussion below , but speaks of our day to day conduct.

    Walking was a common figure in the Old Testament for one's conduct "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked As Spurgeon notes "It is a rich sign of inward grace when the outward walk is changed, and when ungodliness is put far from our actions. This is vital for "victorious" Christian living. Positionally every believer is victorious because of Christ's work on Calvary and the truth that we are all in Him.

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    But Paul desires that our daily practice match our secure, eternal position and that we daily live out what we really are - victors over sin, the flesh and the devil. Believers however cannot achieve victory over the flesh by adherence to a set of rules or by self effort, as many of those in Galatia were doing. To do so is like asking the flesh to cast out the flesh , something it will never do! To the contrary, just as we received Jesus by faith, we are charged to walk in His Spirit by faith cp Col The same faith that saved us initially, now sanctifies us daily.

    Those variegated, manifold "pop tests" which God allows into our life each day will provide plenty of opportunities not obstacles as we too often see them to practice "walking" so that we might learn what it means to experientially and practically walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. One aspect of walking in the Spirit is to have our daily lives under His control, and this in turn is optimized when we are in the Word of God daily and allowing His Word and Spirit to direct us throughout the day see chart. Meditation is to the heart what digestion is to the body and thus is the taking in of the Word of God and making it a part of the inner being.

    As the heart and mind think on the Word all day long, the Spirit guides the life.