Part of my ancestry is Native American, and I have always been fascinated by Native American history. Sitting Bull was a well-known leader in South Dakota who died in 1890. He is known for describing inner turmoil as having two dogs living inside. One dog is evil, and one is good. He concluded that the dog he fed is the one who won the fight. There is great wisdom in this analogy.
In Romans 7, Paul describes the inner struggle. While he doesn’t use the imagery of a dog, he does acknowledge that the things he should do don’t always happen, and the things he shouldn’t do occur more often than he’d like. The struggle is real and is not exclusive to Sitting Bull or the Apostle Paul. You and I battle the same temptations every day.
Galatians 5 contrasts between the “works of the flesh” and the “fruit of the Spirit.” While we go into greater detail in our sermon on this text, the simple matter is that a son or daughter of God is indwelled with Christ and, through the power of the Spirit, able to live victorious over the flesh and be fruitful.
This does not happen without work and effort. If we sit idly by, we will feed the evil and starve the spirit. In fact, Paul elsewhere identifies this as the “inner man” (2 Corinthians 4:16). For us to experience the fruitful freedom that God desires, we must avoid the flesh and feed the Spirit. Practically this will mean saying no to some people and behavior so that we can say yes to habits and relationships that feed our spirit.
I encourage you to prayerfully assess today what changes you need to make to produce healthier fruit and avoid the flesh. Ultimately this is the work of God in us. He produces fruit. Our challenge is to position ourselves to best listen and obey.