Galatians 5:16-18 – 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.
When I was a little boy, one of my favorite people was my grandpa George. Sadly, he died what I was 10 years old. Gladly, all of my memories with him are fun. My grandfather loved people and loved to tell stories. He also liked to work with his hands, as he was a diesel mechanic, and also taught me how to handle a bandsaw. My grandpa George also liked to eat. He was no little man and, as he grew older, preferred wearing overalls to pants because he could let the straps out after a good meal.
My grandpa was not a big rule maker or rule keeper, so it’s fair to say he leaned rebellious. My grandma, however, thought that rule making and punishing for rule breaking was a spiritual gift, so it’s fair to say she leaned religious.
When I would stay at my grandparents’ home as a boy, when she tucked me in, grandma gave me rules – no getting up, no staying awake, no going outside, etc. Grandpa would then give me a wink.
The wink was a code between my grandpa and me. It meant I should only pretend to be asleep, and once grandma was asleep, me and grandpa could sneak up to eat caramel apples, black licorice, and watch the old school fake “Big Time” wrestling with a bevy of big guys in their underwear pounding on each other. My grandpa loved wrestling, and since I loved my grandpa, I learned to love it too.
All was well, until one fateful night. I was either sick, or ate too much sugar and made myself sick, and felt I was going to throw up. Sensing the eruption, my grandpa told me I could not throw up and make noise or we’d both be busted by grandma.
So, I clenched my throat.
And, I blew all the black licorice out through my nose.
That was, for me, a conversion experience. In that moment, a switch was flipped in my soul. Until that moment, I loved black licorice. Since that moment, I have hated black licorice.
Becoming a Christian is a bit like that. Non-Christians cannot fathom why anyone would want to do the things Christians do – like read the Bible, confess sins, worship God, give a tenth of all we make to ministry, etc. This is because the non-Christian has not yet had the Holy Spirit change their nature, causing them to be born again as a new person who has a new power to live out new desires.
In counseling, you quickly learn that the “want to” must precede the “how to” for any positive life change to occur. The Holy Spirit changes our “want to”. Suddenly, we do not see the Christian life as a series of things we are forced to do because of religious laws. Instead, we see the Christian life as a series of things we get to do, and we want to do, because the Holy Spirit has changed our appetite.