According to Galatians 5, there is an ongoing and internal battle occurring in believers. The Lord has graciously caused His Spirit to live in our hearts, yet at the same time, we are still plagued with our flesh, our unredeemed humanness. And though in our inner being we desire Him and His ways, our flesh desires the opposite. To overcome the flesh, the apostle Paul challenges us to walk by the Spirit (verse 16), to be led by the Spirit (verse 18), and to follow the Spirit (verse 25). He also reminds us that our flesh has been crucified, and to live in our flesh is to return to what we have left behind. And it is foolish to return to a corpse for life. Of this picture, John Stott wrote:
The first great secret of holiness lies in the degree and decisiveness of our repentance. If besetting sins persistently plague us, it is either because we have never truly repented, or because, having repented, we have not maintained our repentance. It is as if, having nailed our old nature to the cross, we keep wistfully returning to the scene of its execution. We begin to fondle it, to caress it, to long for its release, even to try to take it down again from the cross. We need to learn to leave it there. When some jealous, or proud, or malicious, or impure thought invades our mind we must kick it out at once. It is fatal to begin to examine it and consider whether we are going to give in to it or not. We have declared war on it; we are not going to resume negotiations. We have settled the issue for good; we are not going to re-open it. We have crucified the flesh; we are never going to draw the nails.
May we walk in the Spirit and, by His grace, learn to leave our flesh at the scene of the execution.