“The life of the Christian is not all smooth. He has stern conflicts to meet. Severe temptations assail him. ‘The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.’ The nearer we come to the close of this earth’s history, the more delusive and ensnaring will be the attacks of the enemy. His attacks will grow fiercer and more frequent. Those who resist light and truth will become more hardened and unimpressible, and more bitter against those who love God and keep His commandments (MS 33, 1911).”—Ellen G. White Comments, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1111.
“The influence of the Holy Spirit is the life of Christ in the soul. We do not see Christ and speak to Him, but His Holy Spirit is just as near us in one place as in another. It works in and through every one who receives Christ. Those who know the indwelling of the Spirit reveal the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith (MS 41, 1897).”—Ellen G. White Comments, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1112.
Dwell more on the idea of crucifying the desires of the flesh. What does that mean? How do we do it? How often do we have to do it? Why would Paul use such a strong verb? What does his use of the word crucify tell us about just how hard the battle with self is?
What role, if any, does human effort play in producing the fruit of the Spirit? What does your own experience tell you about this role?
Paul says that those who practice the works of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God. How do you reconcile this statement with the fact that Paul says we are saved by faith and not by works?
In your own walk with the Lord, what’s the biggest struggle you face? Is it not sin and what sin does to your relationship with God? What Christian hasn’t felt alienation, doubt, and disappointment as a result of the sin in his or her life, especially because we have the promise of victory over that sin? Given this fact in the context of victory over sin, why must we always remember that our salvation rests totally upon what Jesus has done for us?
Although in the life of all believers a conflict exists between the desires of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit, the Christian life does not have to be doomed to failure. Because Christ has conquered the power of sin and death, the Christian life can be a life where the Spirit reigns, bringing a daily supply of God’s grace that enables us to keep the desires of the flesh at bay.