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.Galatians 5:16-17 ESV
God created us to live in this world—He knows how broken it is. He knows we are a flawed people, trying to make it in a world that doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to work. We can’t make it on our own, so He chose marriage as a way to transform us into who He created us to be. Think about it: He chose your spouse specifically for you because He knows the desires that tempt your flesh, and He decided your spouse was the perfect person to root out those desires. Yes, He chose that broken person for you, knowing their flaws, and exactly how their brokenness would challenge you.
It’s hard bumping up against another broken person every day. It can be so hard, in fact, that many of us will justify reasons for walking away from the very person God chose for us. You may be rationalizing that you just made the wrong choice, but God didn’t. If you’re married, then He chose that difficult person to grow you, to tenderize your heart, to bring His Kingdom to this world.
Our marriages struggle because our hearts seek to satisfy our own desires. We battle our flesh and desires on a daily basis while our spouse is busy battling their own temptations. This battle gets messy, and it’s a whole lot easier to just walk away from it than to lean in and learn how to be gentle and kind, how to love unconditionally, how to forgive completely.
The world tells us we have a right to our desires, so our temptations wrap themselves around our hearts in such a way that we cannot even see that they’re wrong. Many of our desires start as good—we want a Godly spouse, we want to be loved and respected, we want comfort and security, we want to enjoy life, we want peace in our homes. The problem is our hearts go after those desires until they become expectations and then demands, and suddenly we are punishing our spouse for interfering with those things we believe we’re due with angry words or neglect. We start following the world’s rules and believing the world’s lies that we have a right to walk away from our spouses when they don’t give us what we deserve. Our desire to be loved and respected in our relationship becomes more important than abiding in God’s commands to love and forgive others as He loves and forgives us
So we need the Spirit. We need to be so filled with the Spirit that He satisfies the desires of our hearts and we stop looking to our spouses to do it. They can’t—they’re broken. They can’t love us the way we need to be loved, they can’t respect us the way we need to be respected, they can bring us the peace or the security we long for, so we need to stop expecting them to fulfill those desires. But God can, and this verse tells us how. When we choose to walk by the Spirit in our marriages, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. The desires of the Spirit are against the desires of the flesh. They are opposed to each other. It goes on to explain if we are filled with the Spirit, He will keep us from doing the things our flesh wants to do. We won’t grow angry or resentful when our desires are not satisfied because we will be filled with the Spirit. We will feel love when we need it, we will feel comfort and security when we need it, we will feel peace and joy when we need it.
So how do we fill ourselves with the Spirit? How do we feel so full of His love that we stop looking to our spouses to fill us? God wrote a book that tells us exactly how to do just that—His answer is all over Scripture. We need to be in His Word every day, meditating on it and storing it in our hearts, we need to worship and praise Him, we need to go to Him and ask Him to fill us with His Spirit, we need to be in community and fellowship with other believers in a church body, we need to be serving others who need to know His love. If you’re married to a believer, these are the things we should be doing together in our marriages—reading His Word together, worshipping and praising Him side by side, holding hands while praying, serving as a family, and sitting next to each other at church. And if you’re not married to a believer, you should be doubling up your efforts until they come to know Jesus as their Savior.
Here’s the problem—many of us know we should be choosing these spiritual disciplines daily, but we often choose our fleshly desires as priority over Him. We don’t have time to get into His Word today because our agenda is too full, we’ve never been any good at memorizing scripture, we can’t go to church this weekend because our kids have a tournament, or I just don’t feel comfortable working at the homeless shelter. Our flesh desires comfort and ease, so we opt for the flesh over the Spirit and we forfeit the filling. Then we wonder why we’re in the pit again.
Choose to make Him a priority in your marriage—with your spouse if possible, without your spouse if not. Choose to get into His Word every single day, without fail. Pray without ceasing and get yourself to church every weekend. Give up your plans once a week and go serve people in need. Yes, it’s a sacrifice to do those things—you’ll have to let go of something in order to make that commitment, but if you want to see your marriage blessed with love and joy and peace, then you need to give the Spirit the opportunity to fill you.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗